NETWORK EQUIPMENT VENDORS' eagerness to make a quick buck might be hampering IPv6 adoption.
One of the reasons given for the slow adoption of IPv6 is the perceived cost associated with little visible gain. IPv6, just like a new version of Microsoft Windows, has been used as an excuse for flogging new networking kit even if users didn't need it, with most major manufacturers' equipment having been IPv6 ready for years.
Glenn Fassett, general manager of Network Hardware Resale's (NHR) international operations, said that many of its customers are "unclear and confused about IPv6 and whether an upgrade of the core network is required". Fassett said that companies and users "should beware of companies suggesting full network upgrades".
NHR sells both new and used network equipment from many of the major networking vendors and claims that 70 per cent of the firm's business is in selling used network equipment. Given the mark-ups on new equipment you might expect Fassett to join other resellers in singing the praises of the latest kit from Cisco, Juniper or Foundry, but instead he said bluntly that "many new [hardware] releases have features [users] don't need", adding that "most products are IPv6 ready".
IPv6 has been slow to get off the ground due to inertia, not hardware incompatibility with existing IPv4 standards. Network equipment vendors have been pushing IPv6 capable equipment for years, and in the case of Cisco, its IOS operating system has had IPv6 support since 2001. Even consumer grade networking equipment such as Apple's Airport wireless access point has supported IPv6 since 2007, so equipment ready for the switch-over is by no means restricted to Cisco's high-end, datacenter gear.
Fassett claimed that companies can save large amounts of money by buying used network equipment if they need to upgrade, but urged companies to check and see if they need to splash out the cash before buying. As for how reliable used network equipment is, Fassett claimed that NHR's used kit has a failure rate of 0.5 per cent.
Those who think that buying used kit is just for small businesses should think again. Fassett said NHR flogs used kit to large enterprises and most major telcos. He added that pre-owned doesn't have to mean cob-web ridden ancient equipment, saying that six month old equipment is still significantly cheaper than fresh out of the box.
It's not surprising that IPv6 has gotten off to a slow start. Most network engineers these days try to avoid doing anything that requires changes in the underlying network hardware or protocol precisely for this reason. Firms that have had to tighten their belts in the last few years are even more apprehensive about IPv6 if they think it means the need to spend more money.
Used equipment might have a whiff of Ebay about it, but if you wander around any datacenter you will see used network equipment in production environments, though you will be hard pressed to notice. The cost savings means that even the smallest one-man outfits can double or triple up on equipment and still make a significant cost savings.
What Fassett's comments show is that those putting off IPv6 deployment for fear of having to spend boat loads of cash on networking equipment should not always rely on the advice of their network equipment reseller. If you have bought kit in the last five years, there's a good chance that you won't have to replace anything. µ
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