Companies’ Software Unprepared for IPv6

  • One in seven companies facing potential system failure
  • European companies have until mid-2012 to resolve

 April 3, 2012Amsterdam and London – Research undertaken by SIG, the Software Improvement Group, has revealed that one in seven information systems could stop working with the imminent deployment of version six of the Internet Protocol (IPv6). Extension of internet means that software, equipment and networks will increasingly rely on the new IPv6 protocol. Organizations’ software should be able to work with both the new protocol and the old protocol (dual stack) within their software and IT infrastructures – but the research proves that many are not.

The research by SIG examined 145 software systems currently operational in Western Europe. On average, €3.4 million has been invested to build or procure each of these systems. In 2010 the ratio of information systems that could stop working was one in 12, meaning that the chance of failure has increased, rather than decreased, since then.

In 2010, the forecast for exhaustion of IPv4 addresses was that it would occur in January 2012. Since then, the ‘exhaustion’ dates have been adapted and differ per regional registry [1]. In Asia addresses are already exhausted, whilst in Europe the ‘exhaustion’ is expected in mid-2012.

“In 2010 we anticipated that organizations would start working on projects to migrate to the next version of the Internet Protocol in readiness. However, contrary to common expectation, we have found that even more information systems could stop working after migration to the new protocol,” said Tobias Kuipers, Chief Technical Officer (CTO), SIG. “Systems need to be modified to work with both protocols. If the modification is performed in a timely fashion, it is relatively minor. If organizations only find out that systems stop working when testing or deploying them, they then need to perform an unscheduled repair project. This can run up to €1 million per system, depending on operational urgency”, he added.
“Most information systems are unaware of the specific version of the Internet Protocol being used, in the same way as electrical appliances do not ‘care’ how the electricity they use is transported to the power socket,” said Joost Visser, Head of Research at SIG. “This research clearly demonstrates that one in seven systems uses specific parts of the protocol that could cause them to fail if faced with an environment that uses both protocols. Fortunately it is reasonably simple to rewrite the software in such a way that it no longer cares what version of the protocol is used”.

SIG helps clients to identify software risks and take steps aimed at reducing the likelihood of unexpected events or their consequences occurring. This research clearly shows the importance of assessing IPv4 dependencies in software before they turn into a problem.
To download the SIG report: SIG Trend Report on IPv4 Captivity 2011 (PDF – 286 Kb)

[1] See for the current estimation of Exhaustion Dates per region



Joost Visser:


Further images can be obtained from PR consultant Claire Thompson (see details below).

 About SIG (Software Improvement Group)

SIG ( advises clients on Software Quality, Software Risk and Software Economics. It provides management with a fact-based insight into their current IT situation, along with pragmatic and actionable recommendations on how to improve that situation. SIG knows how to govern software projects effectively, when and how to invest in quality improvement, how to rationalize and how to control cost. The company performs both in-depth technical analysis and management level financial analysis and consolidates the two. SIG’s research department advances the state of the art in software research.

SIG’s clients are located throughout Europe, and use the company’s services to manage their systems, whether old or new, developed in house or off-shored. SIG boasts an in-house ISO 17025 certified laboratory to perform software analyses, and in association with TÜV (Germany) certifies the quality of software systems. SIG is changing the enterprise software industry by ensuring that quality and risk assessment are part of the procurement process.

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