The last two or three years has seen a bubble in budget planning for investing in virtualization, mainly around VMware and, to a much smaller extent, HyperV. HP and Cisco have been particularly aggressive in creating and exploiting this market with VMware. This has expanded into hardware and peripherals, especially storage and storage connectivity, to support virtualization capability.
The recent pause in software product releases from Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, IBM, HP and other major application vendors (as they consume their recent acquisitions) means that customer budgets can focus on operational efficiency in the infrastructure. Virtualization is localized to the servers and data centers, and focused on the clear benefits of optimizing a handful of IT infrastructure functions around server capacity and operation. Virtualization is cost-control technology. IPv6, in contrast, is a mandatory requirement for the entire IT system, making it relatively far more important.
With the public IPv4 Internet address pool exhausted and the final IP ranges being allocated, we are now facing the forced migration to IPv6. What does this mean for corporate IT budgets?
In a sense, virtualization has been the only significant investment in IT infrastructure that is improving operational capability. But IPv6 has become an immediate problem, and you may need to hold off on planning further virtualization and cloud computing efforts until your migration plans are in order. IPv6 migrations will be gradual and resource-intensive. However, they can bring significant benefits to the entire IT infrastructure, and other projects will ride upon the back of IPv6. This happened in 1998-1999, when many minor projects were folded into Y2K planning. These projects were not entirely relevant, but presented opportunities for inclusion.
Implementing IPv6 will require significant resources, extensive planning and commitment to implementing change. The migration to IPv6 means upgrades to data center equipment, but also significant changes to desktops, security and compliance software, network management systems, WANs, telecommunication strategies, IP telephony and more.