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IPv6: Childhood's End?

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Torbjörn Eklöv

A few weeks ago, when I was lurking around IPv6, I found that my own www.ipv6.tk was my first ever IPv6 domain. A "whois" on the domain says that it was registered in 2005, but something told me that I actually started this earlier.

I therefore logged in at www.nic.tk and could see that my first feeling was correct; the first invoice for ipv6.tk was actually paid in the year of 2002.

Since it is now 2012 my site is having its ten year anniversary!

With hindsight I can tell that during the first seven years I felt that I was almost alone in the whole world with this somewhat odd interest. The last two or three years I have at least gained some fellow comrades around the world with whom I can share this obsession. The IPv6-posse is growing and for that I am very glad!

So how should I celebrate this ten year anniversary? Well, why not by a continuous struggle regarding the implementation of IPv6!

In my years of nagging about IPv6 in general, deployment of the same at enterprises, municipalities, my own firms network and web, dns and spam/avi cleaning services, here are some of the key things that I have experienced and learned over my first ten years:

1. If your Internet-operator says that they support IPv6 — Don't believe them! Or at least don't take their word for an absolute truth!

Many operators in Sweden say they can deploy IPv6, but in fact only 30% of the Swedish AS-numbers has enabled IPv6 today.

IPv6 Enabled Networks – This graph shows the percentage of networks (ASes) that announce an IPv6 prefix for a specified list of countries or groups of countries (Source: RIPE NCC)

And even if they have enabled IPv6, there are always ifs and buts about your connection! Where you are located for example!! Only a few weeks ago one of the major operators focusing on enterprises in Sweden issued a press-release in which they stated that on every new connection, IPv6 should be enabled by default.
I ordered IPv6 for one of my company's customers from this specific operator, based on their own statement that they of course could deliver the services. This was in February 2011 and I am still waiting...

2. How do I get IPv6 to my enterprise? 
At my company we have IPv6 enabled our office and our mail, web and DNS-services. Since 2007 we also have enabled quite a large number of customers.

But how is this possible if we take in consideration what I just pointed out under paragraph 1 above?

The simple answer is that the only way to achieve this is by playing hard with the operators. "If we can't get IPv6 from you we will look for another operator!" Many of our customers use quite small operators where there is fairly easy to activate IPv6 in the backbone and on the edge.

The problems with operators in Sweden is that we have the smaller ones that are easier to turn around and has a quicker way to enable IPv6 services — but they most often don't have a prepared business model or a specific dedicated knowledge resource to handle the technique. Then we have the larger ones that perhaps are more prepared and at least somewhere in the organization have the knowledge. But then they are harder to turn around and often they only deliver IPv6 services to specific regions or areas. So, ok, it is only a matter of time until both small and larger operators have done their homework as per above. But the problem is that we don't have a lot of time and even though the IPv4-addresses depletion is a huge threat to the operators business, they don't seem to act upon the problem in a serious way. Not so far at least...

What about tunnels from HE and Sixxs then for example?
Well, yes, there are some advantages with tunnels! They are a good way to kick-start your learning and testing — and you can change operator and still keep your IPv6 prefix.
However, as an IPv6-purist I must say that I strongly recommend native way!

3. How do we convince our customers to join the IPv6 movement? 
Well, it can be quite easy sometimes. My company has a slogan (one of many with IPv6 in it actually) that we have put on T-shirts. The translation from Swedish reads: 
"-I have the entire Internet! Do you?"

In a very simple way this actually says a lot!

I strongly believe that an enterprise today must be dual stacked to be sure to be able to communicate worldwide. How many of the organizations out there don't communicate with other parts of the world in one way or another? How much is this communication worth in terms of building relations and business transactions?

If I summarize my experience it has not been that hard to explain the need to the customers. The hard part so far has been sections 1 and 2 above. Without available services on the market it is hard to recommend and help the customer to eliminate a problem that they, to some level, understand and take seriously.

4. What SLA can you get and how is IPv6 monitored?
This is another difficult part. You must be sure that the operator treats IPv6 equal to IPv4. I can tell you from my experience that so far no one does! We have had problems with broken routing, broken PMTU, broken AAAA RR etc. When we have contacted the helpdesk on these matters they almost always respond: 
"-Huh? Ok, we will look into this and get back to you as soon as possible!" So far we are still waiting for the day when they actually get back with a solved problem and a good explanation on how it occurred. Yes, the problems are fixed, sometimes within hours, sometimes within a week, sometimes within a month. Quite often with others than the "normal" support organization involved, internal or external functions. Here I want to point out that there is rarely any difference in support functions from small or large operators.

Ok, how should I finish this little private ten year celebration in a suitable way? Well I think it is time to alter one of my previous statements where I encouraged you all to start implementing IPv6 early and in a smaller scale — to be able to lab, learn and play to be well prepared for a later, larger scale implementation. I think that my new statement and recommendation will be to put plenty of resource on it, to do it for real, do it right and do not stop!

This is Childhood's End!

By Torbjörn Eklöv, CTO, Senior Network Architect, DNSSEC/IPv6

Related topics: IPv6



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