breaking down ibm fiberlink acquisitionCould that have been it? Are we finally, finally, hearing the long awaited and, in some cases feared, death rattle of IPv4, the networking protocol that the Internet has run on for the last thirty years? Well, while I wouldn’t expect a full-fledged migration this month to IPv6, the next generation Internet protocol, I do think the end is nigh for IPv4.

Of course, if you’ve been following this saga, you know that we’ve heard this story before. Back in the late 1990’s as a technology reviewer and analyst for PC Week magazine I was writing about how IPv6 would soon be replacing Ipv4. And as a researcher here at Aberdeen, I was excited to report in a 2012 survey of how businesses are adopting and planning to use new technologies, that, while only 8% had at the time deployed IPv6, an additional 64% of respondents planned to implement it in the next 12 months. When I revisited that question in a 2014 survey, only 10% had adopted IPv6 and those who planned to do so in the next year had plummeted to 27%! If anything, widespread use of IPv6 looked even less likely.

But ending the use of IPv4 doesn’t come down to what businesses plan or want to do. The amount of Internet addresses available in the IPv4 protocol will run out soon, and organizations will be forced to move to the new IPv6. And recently we saw clear proof of the beginning of the end.

For the first time ever, the American Registry of Internet Numbers (ARIN) had to reject a request for IPv4 addresses because there weren’t enough available to fulfill the request. And if you look at the counter that ARIN keeps to track the end of IPv4, you can see that with .00693 (at the time of this writing) left to be distributed, this finite resource is about to run out.

Some businesses will continue to drag their feet. They’ll say, “Whatever, I’ll deal with this problem when IPv4 addresses run out. All the big carriers and Internet providers are ready, it won’t be a big problem.”

It is true that most of the major providers, along with makers of networking hardware and software, have been supporting and even dual-running on both IPv4 and IPv6 for a while now. And in the grand scheme of Internet problems, the switchover probably won’t be that painful.

But for businesses that aren’t ready, there will definitely be hiccups, slowdowns and other hurdles that will impact resources, productivity and the bottom line. While on the other side of the equation, organizations that have already taken the step to move to IPv6 will have a seamless transfer. And they’ll already be enjoying the benefits that come from adoption of the superior or more capable IPv6.

Like Jason from Friday the 13th, IPv4 has been nearly impossible to kill. But all finite resources eventually run out, and the time has come for the old Internet to give way to the new Internet.

To find out more about next-generation networking, read the Aberdeen report, Catching the Next Networking Wave