IPv6 opens doors for B2B collaboration

The new IPv6 internet protocol addressing scheme will be critical for expanding digital collaboration among organisations, says Murray Milner, principal of Milner Consulting.

Business-to-business collaboration with suppliers and customers is becoming an engine of productivity and efficiency and is as important as increased internal efficiency, he told the CIO Summit in Auckland last month during a presentation titled "Connectivity for Productivity -- Securing Communications".

However, this means organisations are increasingly gaining entry to one another's computer systems in the cause of smooth commercial collaboration. Also, outsourcing of ICT services is expected to grow at about 4.5 percent a year for the next five years. All this makes it clear that "the enterprise no longer stands alone in the security field".

The perimeter-based security model typified by the static firewall is no longer adequate, he says. A mechanism of authorisation is needed, dictating who has access to what part of the system and who can perform what actions; so is authentication, to verify an access seeker is who they say they are, and an audit to make sure correct procedures have been followed. Procedures for response to any breach need to be carefully thought out.

However, with a low level of communications an immediate problem presents itself. Many organisations will operate with their own internal repertoire of IPv4 addresses and have been able to rely on network address translation (NAT) for comparatively infrequent communication with the outside world, he says.

In the world of increasing collaboration, access from one organisation's address space to another's will be much more frequent, and the chances of not striking a conflict between internal addresses is minute. NAT can still be used in theory, but in a sector such as health, where there are literally thousands of co-operating partners, it will become impossibly cumbersome.

IPv6, he says, is an efficient answer to the problem, since it provides enough addresses for every device across the globe to have one of its own, and there is no need for translation.

However, in an introduction to Milner's address, conference chairman and InternetNZ president Peter Macaulay asked how many organisations represented in the audience had an IPv6 implementation strategy; one hand went up.

As part of InternetNZ's promotion of IPv6 adoption, it will conduct a hui on August 19, 20 and 21 in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch respectively. Former ICANN chairman Vint Cerf, now an "evangelist" for Google, will preside over the Auckland and Wellington events.

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