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Is your company at risk of an IPv6 brain drain?

Carolyn Duffy Marsan | March 7, 2011
Timothy Winters, senior manager at the University of New Hampshire's InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL), gets calls every week from headhunters looking to hire network engineers, network architects and software developers with experience in IPv6, the looming upgrade to the Internet's main communications protocol.

"We haven't had any of our five full-time staff poached," Winters says, "but our undergraduate students haven't had any trouble finding jobs."

Jobs are readily available for not only entry-level engineers with IPv6 skills but also senior executives with experience in IPv6 network deployments.

Ed Jankiewicz, an active member of the IPv6 standards community and a senior research engineer with SRI International, says he and some of his colleagues have received calls from an IT industry recruiter trying to fill a job opening for a senior-level IPv6 network architect job at Cox Communications.

Cox Communications is "seeing IPv6 within their planning horizon and recognizing the need for an experienced network architect to help with their implementation," Jankiewicz says. He describes the job as "a very strategic position for someone with the background and initiative to help bring a major network operator into IPv6. If I were on the market and willing to [relocate], I would jump on this, but [it's] not the right time or place for me.''

Online job postings that specifically mention IPv6 skills are multiplying.

A search of the Web site turns up nearly 1,500 job postings that specify IPv6 as a required skill. These include positions for network engineers, software engineers, network architects, systems engineers, test engineers and developers. Companies looking to hire IPv6 expertise include Accenture, AT&T, Blade Network Technologies, Brocade Communications, Cisco, EBay, Ericsson, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Motorola and Verizon.

IPv6 skills are a prerequisite for getting hired at Global Crossing, which has a network backbone that has been running IPv4 and IPv6 side-by-side in what's called a dual-stack configuration for 10 years.

"Most of Global Crossing technical staff already have IPv6 skills, and any new engineers we hire are skilled in IPv6," says company spokeswoman Kate Rankin. "These skills have become standard for engineers working in this area."

Network engineers with IPv6 skills are now boasting about them on their resumes. There's an interesting debate about whether it's worth listing IPv6 certifications on a resume on an online forum run by Hurricane Electric, which runs the world's most interconnected IPv6 backbone.

"If you are cleaning your resume, you should put IPv6 in there somewhere if it's a skill you feel you have," says one post.

IPv6 will "be a topic of conversation that you can use to sell yourself," adds another post.

Sensing the demand, IT professionals without IPv6 experience are signing up for training classes in droves.

Lisa Donnan, executive vice president of cybersecurity solutions at Command Information, says demand for the firm's IPv6 training classes is up 100% over last year among both commercial and public sector organizations.


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