The number of companies downloading Check Point’s IPv6 software for use in firewalls has shown a sudden increase in the last year, the company has revealed.

Dan Sarel, Checkpoint’s VPN solutions manager, said that the company had seen downloads among its global customer base go from near zero to 750 in the last year alone. The company launched its free-of-cost IPv6 upgrade software two years ago.

He speculated that the increase in interest was down to a number of factors, including the US Department of Defense’s ruling that it would in future buy only IPv6-capable security systems, as well as continued interest from Asian companies looking to adopt the technology.

“The analysts said enterprises were not interested in IPv6 because they had NAT [Network Address Translation] - it was a problem that already been solved,” recounted Sarel.

Improved security was another attraction of the technology but he had detected reticence about IPv6’s security design among some customers. “When you move to IPv6 you don’t want to lose all the security you have in IPv4.” IPv6’s use of encrypted encapsulating security headers, in particular, reduced an administrator’s ability to “see” network traffic.

The overwhelming number of companies downloading the upgrade were large enterprises across a range of sectors. Heading the list was manufacturing with 10 percent of the downloads, followed by government and military with nine percent, finance and banking with 8 percent, and education and research with 7 percent.

Companies would be using the software in multiple security devices and, in some cases, were running the software in their labs, he said.

These figures are modest when set against the company’s customer base of 100,000, but still suggest that IPv6 is starting to gain some traction after years of going nowhere.