Currently the movement of companies, especially small and medium businesses to IPv6 has not really occurred. In a recent article concerning IPv6, it was found that only larger customers of AT&T are being offered IPv6, and that the belief is that smaller companies are not prepared for IPv6. I have discussed this issue in a previous article, and found that some of the lack of these smaller companies not being prepared to utilize IPv6 technology really has to deal with the availability of equipment such as routers to be IPv6 compatible. As a lot of SMB’s (small and medium businesses) are not wanting to spend more monies than they need to be ready for IPv6 when their ISP (Internet Service Provider) is not willing to offer the new service.
I do think that in looking at some of the strategic selling points of two of Microsoft’s main products; Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008, that there may be a push from the consumer end to ensure that IPv6 is available. There are a few new features or options that rely on the new IPv6 standard in order to run, and I think that the need for these particular services will drive the need for many smaller companies to utilize IPv6.
Direct Access, a new service provided by Windows 2008 and which utilizes new security features found in Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise is one such example. Remote connectivity to the home network when workers are away from the office is always time consuming and expensive. Most companies today provide some type of VPN, usually including the need for additional hardware. A good example is the typical VPN model of using an RSA key generator along with a numeric code to gain access. This technology relies on the end user having to carry a RSA key generator at all times, and these devices are not cheap. Then on the network side, there needs to be a VPN server that has to validate the user’s credentials, and if there is a problem that brings up a whole new subject. As the world that we live in today means that many of us might need access to the network 24×7, which invokes the issue of 24 hour tech support, and the cost of this tech support. The VPN solution is not always an easy one, and nor is it always cheap to administer. Microsoft is trying to assist in this area by providing Direct Access.
Microsoft’s Direct Access is setup to allow users to connect to the office anytime they are connected to the Internet. The software connects to the Domain and uses the domain to verify the user logging onto the remote device, thus ensuring that all security policies are being adhered to at all times. One feature that Direct Access has over a standard VPN is the ease of connecting to internal resources. With many VPN’s if a user for example does not have information on how to reconnect to a share drive or perhaps a SharePoint site, that user will not be able to use the resources needed. With Direct Access, this is not an obstacle as each person connecting via Direct Access will be able to view and use resources just as they would if they were physically in the office.
My hope is that as more and more SMB’s want to implement the Direct Access feature more and more pressure will be placed on ISP to offer IPv6 solutions at a reasonable rate. This also will help to trigger hardware companies that manufacture cable and DSL routers to start including IPv6 functionality. Other services such as BranchCache and Mobile broadband will also need and rely on the IPv6 standards.