You are the technical lead for your organization.  You have been following the news and stories regarding IPv4 address space exhaust closely and feel a sense of urgency regarding the mitigation of potential risks associated with the introduction of IPv6 on the Global Internet.  However, despite repeated conversations with your boss, you are finding it difficult to articulate the risks and issues that need to be addressed. In addition, your management team is under the impression that the carriers will solve this problem and that there is little to no risk to the organization.  A major question exists.  How do you convince people that there needs to be a sense of urgency around IPv6 adoption and more importantly that there needs to be funding allocated to address the problem?

First and foremost CIO’s and CTO’s are moved to action when there are projects related to  risk management and business value. Talking to your boss in technical terms will probably get you a blank stare. In order to elevate the conversation, you need to think about having an executive conversation with your decision makers to put the problem in a context that they can understand.

The easiest way to get an executives attention regarding IPv6 is to put the problem in a context of lost revenues or inability to deliver services to business partners, customers and employees. The fact of the matter is that there is a whole lot of business that is conducted over the internet and the inability to communicate via IPv6 can have a significant impact on the bottom line of some organizations.  This is not a one size fits all problem.  Some customers will be impacted much more than others, but at the end of the day, all organizations need to adopt IPv6 in some form.  The question is how deep is the impact?  In other words you need to quantify the risk related to NOT being able to communicate via IPv6.

Quantifying the risk of IPv6 can be a relatively straight forward exercise.  If you think about the types of users that communicate over the Internet and the applications and services they leverage, you can quantify the impact at a high level pretty easily.  If you have seen a significant growth of Internet bandwidth and have plans to continue that growth, it is pretty obvious that the Internet is an enabler of the business.  Whether it be customers for e-commerce, business partners, mobile workers or the move to mobility based applications or cloud, the Internet drives revenue and productivity in many businesses.

First and foremost, you need to understand what the Internet growth strategy has been over the last 2-3 years and what the plans are for the coming 1-2 years.  For example, If you have experienced 20% growth in the last 2 years and anticipate 25% growth in the coming 2 years, you can see that there has been a 45% growth of Internet bandwidth.   The next question would be, who uses the Internet and what revenues or productivity applications are associated with those users?  Once you understand this, you can quantify the impact.  Some examples seen in the industry include the following:

  • E-Commerce revenues increasing.
  • New business partners have emerged requiring Internet connectivity.  These new business partnerships were deemed necessary to drive business and revenue in certain areas.
  • New sites are coming on line that will use Internet based transport.  This will reduce WAN costs, but will require the support of IPv6 for sites that will be IPv6 only.
  • The move towards work at home users to increase productivity.
  • The move towards cloud computing.
  • The move towards mobility applications.

All of these initiatives drive internet bandwidth which in turn enables new revenue and productivity opportunities.  Quantifying these items in terms of lost revenue, lost customers and lost productivity is something that CIO’s and CTO’s understand.

In summary, a simple exercise to associate Internet growth to revenue gains will get the attention of decision makers.  You may still have to overcome the argument that the Carriers will address this, but as of right now (August 2011), there is no solution available that would  allow organizations to ignore IPv6 totally.

How are you addressing the issue of IPv6 in your organization? Are you meeting any resistance?  If so, how are you dealing with it?  What have you found effective to convince upper