You’ve probably seen the headlines. You know, the ones declaring “the end of the Internet as we know it.” While dramatic, they are true in a way—the Internet is indeed running out of IP addresses.
Your small business customers have probably heard the news, too, and they’re concerned. So, now is an ideal time to reach out to your customers, reassure them and provide them the information they need about what’s happening and what they need to do to prepare.
The solution to the rapidly dwindling number IP addresses is IPv6, the latest version of the Internet Protocol (IP). IPv6 can handle up to 340 trillion, trillion, trillion new IP addresses. So, even though we’ve almost used up 4.3 billion IP addresses already, the upgraded IPv6 will provide enough IP addresses to sustain the growing number of devices connecting to the Internet well into the future.
Why your SMB customers need to make the switch
While there is a solution to the problem of dwindling IP addresses, users need to start moving their current IP addresses over to IPv6 soon. Some experts estimate that users will have to start migrating to IPv6 to remove congestion as soon as the end of this summer.
As Internet service providers begin making the switch, managed service providers and end users will have to follow suit. This is why you need to contact your customers and have a conversation about why this issue is important and what it means for their small businesses.
If a user doesn’t migrate to IPv6 by the end of this summer, they could be faced with an inability to access the Internet. That’s a big deal, especially if they use their website to finds leads, fulfill orders, or communicate with their customers.
Basically, what will happen when IPv4 (the current version of the Internet Protocol) reaches capacity is that a message will appear when a user on the network tries to access a URL. The message will be something along the lines of “network error,” indicating that you’ve run out of IP addresses. Without access to a web server, this could result in lost productivity and revenue for your clients.
How to help your clients migrate to IPv6
To help your SMB customers migrate, let them know that making this switch includes updating every device they use that connects to the Internet. With the recent hype around the Internet of Things, the list of things that need updating now includes many consumer applications like Skype and just about every device imaginable, anything from a Google Chromecast or Apple Watch to a connected car.
According to Steven Barry, the director of IT for CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), small business customers using just an email address and a website should be fine. As an IT service provider, you should focus on the clients running internal IT systems who will need their operating systems, applications, and hardware updated, rather than a client with just one computer.
For your customers, they just need to know that you are compliant with IPv6, meaning that your IT infrastructure is ready and capable of supporting this recent version.
To get started and make sure you’re compliant, here is the FCC’s list of the software and services you will need to update. This includes everything from video conferencing programs to computer networking equipment.
The impact on IT service providers
This ultimately means that it’s your responsibility to update all of your customers’ IT infrastructures in the next few months. This is added work that you should account for in the months ahead. While some of your smaller customers might not require much attention, others might have old operating systems and need multiple software updates.
So, plan ahead and assess the needs of each of your clients. This way, you can prioritize which clients need your immediate attention and which ones you can schedule for later in the summer. Either way, call your customers and assure them that you’re on top of it.