– Richard Donaldson, CEO and co-founder at 6Connect (www.6connect.com)

Datacenters have been evolving at a very rapid pace since the mid 2000’s. While 2005 – 2010 might be remembered as the era of deconstructing myths around datacenter designs, 2011 and beyond will be the years of wiring the datacenter into the network which necessitates a knowledge of the upcoming transition from IPv4 to IPv6 and what to look for on a go-forward basis.

Basically, IPv4 and IPv6 are not compatible.

This means that any device that wishes to be “online” must be compatible with both protocols for some time into the future to work properly. To clarify, the world network operators will be “dual stacking” these protocols for a few years. Both IPv4 and IPv6 will have to run concurrently on the same wires even though they do not interact.

While both protocols will be running together within the network for the foreseeable future, not all hardware or connection points support this concept of “dual stacking”. Datacenter operators will have to manage this complexity.

The era of v6 is here and as you assess how to bring current infrastructure online or design and prepare for future builds it is imperative to ensure that all equipment selections support both protocols. Modern operating systems and browsers are IPv6 ready today and run both IPv4 and IPv6 simultaneously – check out your TCP/IP settings and you’ll see that you should have both types of addresses already. Even if you are running other protocols like BacNET or ModBus or LON, eventually those will be translated into IP traffic so as to universally communicate with the servers or people tasked with monitoring or tracking this data – and this will be on the Internet.

The time is now for datacenter operators and designers to be proactive, ask their vendors about IPv6 support, and begin to understand the implications of how monitoring, securing, reporting, maintenance, and even availability are affected by this transition.