The transition businesses must make to IPv6-ready infrastructure is undoubtedly an opportunity for assessment. But as Network Hardware Resale sees it, it's also putting pressure on organizations to make costly upgrades when they may not need to do so.
IPv6 for most businesses, NHR contends, isn't the rip-and-replace scenario some vendors are making it out to be.
NHR, which provides pre-owned and new networking solutions as a secondary market seller, focuses on pre-owned equipment from Cisco, Juniper, Foundry and other networking vendors. Michael Lodato, NHR's vice president of marketing and business development, said what he's hearing from customers is that many vendors -- and some systems integrators -- are positioning sales of IPv6-ready infrastructure as a do-or-die: upgrade fully to IPv6-ready tools, or face system collapse when the IPv6 transition happens and customers' current infrastructure is left behind.
The reality, of course -- as NHR and many IPv6-savvy solution providers know -- is decidedly different.
"What we're saying to our clients is: beware of IPv6 hype," Lodato said. "Let's talk about what your needs are. They're hearing from OEMs and systems integrators that they need a full system overhaul and not doing so puts your companies at risk. That's just not the case."
Enterprise interest in the IPv6 transition has slowly picked up in the past year, especially as many of the milestones for worldwide IPv4 address depletion are reached. The IPv6 changeover itself is inevitable: IPv4 address exhaustion has technically already happened, and the move to IPv6 -- Internet addresses that are eight-sets of four-digit hexadecimal numbers -- means preserving the IP address future because IPv6's 128-bit format yields more than enough theoretical addresses that exhaustion won't be a problem.
Solution providers have continued to tell CRN that there is an opportunity for infrastructure assessment with customers to test for IPv6 readiness. There's also opportunity to dispel a lot of the myths around IPv6, especially with events such as World IPv6 Day putting the IPv6 transition front-and-center for potential customers.
NHR is finding that to be true as well, especially for midsized companies without an enormous amount of global infrastructure to future-proof.
"What we're noticing is that your typical midmarket company tends to have one IT generalist supporting the company at a senior level," Lodato said. "The smaller the company gets, the more likely they're going to be responding to the hype. We think smaller companies are getting victimized by the hype cycle a little bit. We're getting the fear-based questions from a lot of those companies."
One step NHR has taken around IPv6 is to publish lists of equipment from Cisco -- particularly popular Catalyst switches and Cisco routers -- that won't require additional licensing from IOS, Cisco's principal operating system for network infrastructure, to be IPv6-ready.
The number of inbound inquiries for NHR-led network assessment has increased four-fold over the past 60 days, Lodato said. That's probably due, he said, to some combination of IPv6 hype and the launch of NHR's NetSure LifeScan -- a network assessment service that includes IPv6 readiness in the things it tests for.
"We go into the network and we can scan the entire network and inventory every single device on there," Lodato explained. "Then we build a table from everything from the occurrence of software releases and see what's IPv4- and IPv6-compatible. We're able to say, here are some legacy products you won't need to upgrade."
Overall, organizations can and should be more strategic about their infrastructure assessments, Lodato advised, because in most cases, they won't need to make sweeping upgrades to get ready for IPv6.
"A lot of it is going to be on a case-by-case basis," added Chris Crotteau, an NHR sales engineer. "It's from that they'll be able to to determine a plan going forward on what needs to change and what can stay the same in their business."
"I think right now is the time you should start your assessments and create your plans," Lodato said. "Do you need to do that in the next 30 days? No. But in the next six months? Yes. It's a good shot across the bow of all corporations to have a three-year horizon."
NHR does have a pricing model for the audits, Lodato said, but in many cases, the assessments have led to NHR equipment sales and NHR ends up rolling the assessment into the margin on the transaction.
"People have been excited by the results," Lodato said.