Caught napping? Local IT companies ignoring crucial technological shifts
By Omair Zeeshan
Failure to shift to IPv6 can result in Pakistan being cut off from rest of the internet . DESIGN: ANAM HALEEM
KARACHI: Pakistan and its websites risk being cut off from the rest of the world if the country’s technology companies do not make the transition from the older technology being used right to a newer version that is about to become the global standard over the next few months.
Contrary to common perception, the internet is not infinite and is running out of space. To make sure that it has the space to keep growing, there is a global shift to a new infrastructure, from Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) to version 6 (IPv6). And those that do not make the move will be cut off and inaccessible to the ones that move on.
In order to mark the beginning of the mass exodus to the new infrastructure, the global IT industry held IPv6 day to try out the new internet protocol that will be implemented to ‘create more space’ so that the internet can keep on growing.
However, it seems not all the stakeholders in Pakistan are as concerned as they should be.
“If the world is ready, then we have to make sure that we can be part of the v6 cloud. Otherwise the internet will start causing problems for us,” said Aftab Siddiqui, a member of the IPv6 task force, an organisation that has been creating awareness and conducting seminars and training for corporations and academia.
Explaining how the change could impact other businesses, Siddiqui said: “Let’s say a textile company has a website which is IPv4 only (the old infrastructure) and since the US is rapidly adopting IPv6, someday the US will only have IPv6 which will mean that those USA users won’t be able to access the textile company’s website.”
This will start creating problems for Pakistan after 2 years, because very soon IPv6 will become a part of compliance in Europe and Americas so anyone providing services in these countries will have to show IPv6 readiness. Cybernet, which is a part of the IPv6 task force, already had two corporate customers who are using IPv6 due to compliance issues with the EU.
Siddiqui said that the Task Force has been trying its level best to get some support from internet service providers (ISPs) and corporations but have not had much traction. “People are a bit slow to accept it because, on the ISP side, it requires upgrading some equipment as well which directly involve capital investment.”
On IPv6 day, top websites and internet service providers around the world, including Facebook, Google, Yahoo, joined together with more than 1,000 other participating websites for a successful global-scale trial of the new Internet Protocol, IPv6. The day, held on June 8, 2011 was in a way a coordinated 24-hour “test flight” of the new framework which will allow the internet to have as much ‘space’ as it needs.
The test was required because the two frameworks are intrinsically incompatible and require the use of a ‘translator/tunnel’. The day was less a test of IPv6 and more of the technologies to be used on the way to the day when IPv4 goes away. These technologies need to be tested so that organisations are prepared for the time when these need to be put to use.
CEO of Nexlinx, Naeem Haq, said, “There was no organised effort in Pakistan to test out IPv6, however companies did to internal testing. Nexlinx did internal testing, and our IPv6 is working, although it is not fully compliant and our company will be making the shift two years down the line.”
Two Pakistani websites however, did show up in the list of 787 that were published online for IPv6 day. These websites apparently belonged to the Pakistan IPv6 Task Force and the National University of Science & Technology.
Both of Pakistan’ tier-one internet service providers (the ones that are connected by undersea cables) — Transworld and Pakistan Telecommunications — have announced that they have successfully deployed IPv6. None of the lower-tier ISPs and content publishing websites participated in the global-scale trial of the new internet protocol on June 8.
Source: Express Tribune