There's an untapped niche emerging in the IT world -- the transition from IPv4 to IPv6. The VAR Guy hasn't covered it extensively, but there have been signs of the inevitable move. Network security vendor Fortinet, for one, is looking to help companies make the switch as painlessly as possible, and is welcoming resellers to help. The VAR Guy spoke to Fortinet VP Patrick Bedwell about what Fortinet can provide and why the move to IPv6 isn't as simple as initially perceived ...

The move to IPv6 isn't just about hardware, it's about everything, Bedwell said. That spells potential for resellers in all areas to re-examine their customers' infrastructure to determine what -- from operating systems to printers -- needs an upgrade. If it makes a connection to the Internet, there's a potential for refresh.

Where, then, does network security come into play?

Finding a security vendor that truly understands IPv6 data isn't easy, Bedwell said, because the process is more than just a hardware upgrade to a connection that supports IPv6. "Passing traffic isn't the same as inspecting it," he stressed, adding that IPv6 data needs hardware that supports IPv6 security features. It isn't enough to funnel IPv6 data down to IPv4 devices.

"Security vendors are all over the map right now. [But] we've been compliant with IPv6 for several years thanks to the government," he said, noting Fortinet's strong play in the vertical market. "We have a strong presence in the carrier space, [too]. We know how to do this." In the sea of IPv6 uncertainty, Bedwell said, Fortinet partners can confidently play the role of the 'trusted adviser' and help their customers deploy the right IPv6 tool for the job.

Fortinet is putting an emphasis on training and certifications for potential partners. "We're expanding our training curriculum, specifically for partners, and we're also planning on having a toolkit available [that] detects IPv6 malicious content." Partners can use this tool to show potential customers what kind of threats would be blocked.

Thus far, vendors have downplayed the channel's role in the impending shift to IPv6. "There haven't been a whole lot of initiatives," he said, suggesting that other vendors have simply added the IPv6 hardware without the other necessary implementations for security.

But with or without Fortinet, VARs will come to a point where they need to show customers the IPv6 technology will enforce policies while providing the same performance customers had in the past.

Although Fortinet at the moment seems to be crowing the loudest about its IPv6 prowess, it's unlikely the larger vendors such as Cisco or HP will fall by the wayside on the road to IPv6. Even now, both Cisco and HP have sites dedicated to IPv6 transition. But when push comes to shove, the move to IPv6 may filter out good vendors from better ones. With World IPv6 Day around the corner, The VAR Guy will keep track of more and more vendors that are supporting IPv6.

Sign up for The VAR Guy’s Weekly Newsletter, Webcasts and Resource Center. Follow The VAR Guy via RSS, Facebook and Twitter. Follow experts at VARtweet. Read The VAR Guy’s editorial disclosures here.