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A Swift Kick to the IPv6 Backside

It is time for the IT world to move forward with IPv6

The institutional horror stories continue, the old Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4) address space is nearly gone, and if we do not transition to IPv6 with its nearly unlimited address space the Internet will grind to a halt.

A recent survey in Europe by the European Commission concludes that even in technology-progressive European countries "few companies are prepared for the switch from the current naming protocol, IPv4, to the new regime (protocol), IPv6." ARIN (the US-based Internet Registry) agrees, reminding us that "with less than 15% of IPv4 address space remaining, ARIN is now compelled to advise the Internet community that migration to IPv6 is necessary for any applications that require ongoing availability of contiguous IP number resources."

Call to Action for IPv6OK, so what the heck? Why aren't we listening to those who understand the sense of urgency to migrate to IPv6, and get moving towards establishing a solid migration plan? Are the vendors ignoring the problem, reticent in providing IPv6 support in either application software or hardware, and preventing us from adopting IPv6? Are we just comfortable in our use of IPv4, network address translation/NAT, and are information technology professionals simply afraid to make a stand with management to start making the move?

Most mainstream software providers appear to be making the effort to go to IPv6. Microsoft has IPv6 as an inherent part of Windows and new Windows applications, Apple – ditto. Google engineers Lorenzo Colitti and Erik Kline recently received the Itojun Award from the Internet Society for "contributions to the development and deployment of IPv6."

All major switching, routing, and server hardware companies are producing operating systems which include IPv6 compliance. Even cloud computing vendors such as 3tera are providing native IPv6 support within their platform and infrastructure as a service support.

What I Want from IPv6

I want everything from IPv6. Everything that has an electronic, communications, mobility, or interface should be addressable. I love the idea the California Highway Patrol can work with a company such as On Star to shut down a stolen car on the freeway before the driver kills himself or an innocent motorist. I love the idea I can work with an electrical utility to provide smart GRID technology to my entire home electrical system and not only reduce my bill, but also lower my carbon footprint. I love the idea I can control nearly anything I own or manage through a smart phone handset.

The IPv6 address space is large enough that we will have more than sufficient means to address everything we want – while smart people start working on IPv10 or whatever is needed for a couple generations down the road. So they can extend IPv10 to the rest of the galaxy.

Of course, unless we move forward and accept the temporary pain of moving to IPv6, none of this is likely to happen outside of some private implementations such as Verizon Wireless' LTE network. Verizon is forcing the IPv6 issue with handset and device vendors by demanding their "…device shall support IPv6. The device may support IPv4. IPv6 and IPv4 support shall be per the 3GPP Release 8 Specifications (March 2009)" Kudos to Verizon for taking a stand on IPv6.

I further encourage moving my identity to an IPv6 address. Who needs a social security number, =social insurance number, or other identity when I can have my own personal IPv6 address? No identity fraud, as it can be linked to my DNA or other funky unique security code. My IP address, with my DNA and fingerprint, and I have the basic elements of a base for all other communications and identifications. Or I will become a borg.

But I would like to log into my home, and have heat turned on 5 minutes from arrival, the oven warming, favorite TV dinner selected for cooking, and even my 2 liter bottle of diet soda positioned for easy removal. My television set was remotely programmed, and the MP3 player auto-filled with music and other stuff from its docking station to give me something to listen to during my evening run along the beach or Wildwood Canyon.

Every device for my personal life that has a pulse can have an IPv6 address, controllable by me for whatever reason I choose. No IPv6 address for my jog though, as I want to de-couple some things important to life.

Who Cares About IPv6?

Martin Levy, from Hurricane Electric (a global Internet service and network provider based in Fremont, California), is a tireless evangelist for IPv6. A member of nearly every IPv6 working group (real working groups, not social working groups!), Martin travels the globe teaching, chiding, and inspiring networks to make the move. Martin recently recorded an interview with the European Internet Registry/RIPE where he explains His position on IPv6, his company's approach to IPv6, and reminding the Internet community of the risks of not making the move to IPv6.

Martin strongly advises " If you're getting connectivity in a data center as a transit over an international connection, as a cross connect inside a telecom hotel, if you are an enterprise, IPv6 (deployment) should just be a tick mark…"

Martin travels the world in his quest to inform, and encourage those who do accept their responsibilities and urgencies embracing IPv6, such as at a recent conference in Slovenia, where Martin congratulated the Internet networking and content community by stating "Slovenia's IPv6 initiative has been very successful and is becoming a blue-print for IPv6 initiatives in other countries worldwide."

Internode, a large Internet network provider in Australia, has joined the movement towards IPv6. Partially because it is the right thing to do, partially because it is nearly impossible to get additional IPv4 address space from the Asian Internet registry, APNIC (Asia-Pacific Network Information Center).

"Our objective is to ensure that Internode has the most experience of any Australian broadband provider with the operation and support of native IPv6," Internode managing director Simon Hackett said in a statement. "By the time IPv6 becomes a necessary part of connecting new users to the Internet, Internode will offer the very best 'production' IPv6 service available in Australia. At that point, for all customers, IPv6 will 'just work'." (Network World, 6 Nov 09)

Our Call to Action

Every blog entry is supposed to include a pithy call to action. In this case the call to action is real. We need to adopt IPv6. Excuses will not bring our global Internet-connected and Internet-enabled world together, and will not enable our next generation of network users to fully execute on the promise of exploiting life in the "matrix."

IT Managers – you need to get off your backsides, and learn, learn, learn, everything you can about Ipv6. It is mission-critical. Then you need to brief your management – the CFOs, CTOs, CEOs, CXOs, and let them know the urgency of re-stacking your organization to accommodate and drive Ipv6.

Networks – If you are an Internet network provider, and you do not support Ipv6, please get out of the business. With all due respect, you are the problem.

Content providers, application service providers, SaaS providers, equipment vendors, and everybody else hanging an Internet shingle on your door. Ditto – if you are not building IPv6 support into your product, you are the problem. Make it easy for the IT managers, individuals, and future generations by taking Verizon's approach. "If you do not include IPv6 support in your product, we will not use it."

What is your IPv6 message?

John Savageau, Long Beach

More Stories By John Savageau

John Savageau is a life long telecom and Internet geek, with a deep interest in the environment and all things green. Whether drilling into the technology of human communications, cloud computing, or describing a blue whale off Catalina Island, Savageau will try to present complex ideas in terms that are easily appreciated and understood. Currently focusing efforts on designing data centers, telecom, enterprise architectures, and cloud computing strategies in developing countries, including Palestine, Indonesia, Moldova, Egypt, and Vietnam. John Savageau is President of Pacific-Tier Communications dividing time between Honolulu and Burbank, California. A former career US Air Force officer, Savageau graduated with a Master of Science degree in Operations Management from the University of Arkansas and also received Bachelor of Arts degrees in Asian Studies and Information Systems Management from the University of Maryland.

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