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IPv6 Coming to America

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
6/26/2003
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While Asia and Europe have made strides to switch to IPv6, the next-generation version of Internet Protocol (IP), the North American market has dragged its feet. But now it looks as though IPv6 is picking up steam in the U.S.

The move is being driven by carriers. Yesterday, NTT/Verio Inc., a subsidiary of NTT Communications Corp., announced that it will provide customers with one of the first commercial IPv6 services in the U.S. This announcement comes two weeks after the U.S. Department of Defense released a mandate saying that all of its Global Information Grid assets deployed as of October 1, 2003, must support IPv6. It also expects this gear to be compatible with existing IPv4 deployments.

“We're anticipating moving the department to the use of IPv6 in about 2008,” said John Stenbit, chief information officer for the DOD during a press briefing on June 13. “For us to even come close to doing that, we need to start to have people face the reality that we're going to do that and start to buy things now.

Verio’s service is expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2003, but the carrier already has a pre-commercial offering deployed in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C. Pre-commercial IPv6 tunneling service is also available for those customers that subscribe to Verio's conventional IPv4 services anywhere in the country. The carrier doesn’t expect widespread adoption immediately.

“We’re not saying that everyone in the U.S. needs to drop their IPv4 service today,” says Stan Barber, vice president of engineering operations in the broadband unit at Verio. “But we’re giving customers the option now to be part of a technology wave that will happen sometime during this decade.”

The service is to be demonstrated at the North American IPv6 Global Summit in San Diego this week. Verio is the official provider of IPv6 connectivity to the summit.

So what's IPv6 good for? Traditionally, the debate around IPv6 has revolved around addressing space. IPv6 extends the number of address bits from 32 in IPv4 to 128. This is important as more devices, like cell phones, PDAs (personal digital assistants), gaming stations, and many other devices become IP-enabled.

Switching over to IPv6 can provide other benefits, too. Because there are no constraints on the number of IP addresses that can be allocated, network address translation doesn’t need to be used. NAT is typically used with IPv4 to dynamically allocate addresses to individual devices sitting behind a router in a LAN.

NAT solves the address availability issue, but it makes it more difficult to deliver certain security services, like end-to-end encryption. It also makes it more difficult to support remote users on a large network. IPv6 solves these problems.

Another potential benefit of IPv6 is that it includes a flow label field, which can be used to mark packets for quality of service. But definitions for this field haven’t been standardized yet, so it could be a while before customers actually see much benefit from it.

“Is the average guy dialing up to his ISP care if he is on an IPv4 network or an IPv6 network?” says Verio’s Barber. “No, but a large enterprise might have to think about it today.”

IPv6 also has some critics (see Poll Shows Divisions Over IPv6). Geoff Huston, chief scientist for Telstra Corp. argues that the only benefit that IPv6 has over IPv4 is the expanded address space. But he says it will take years before the IPv4 address field will be exhausted, since there are still 1.5 billion addresses unallocated.

Despite its detractors, IPv6 has already gained significant momentum in Europe and Asia, particularly in Japan where the government has mandated the use of IPv6 by 2005 (see Unknown Document 12576). The Japanese government has also offered tax incentives to companies that buy IPv6 gear to push this deployment. NTT has already been delivering a commercial IPv6 service throughout Asia/Pacific, including Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Australia, as well as Europe, including the U.K., the Netherlands, France, Germany, and Spain (see NTT Com Expands IPv6 Coverage).

Most equipment vendors have already gotten their gear ready for IPv6 demand. Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) have added the functionality to their routers (see Cisco Upgrades Gear and Juniper Unveils IPv6 Routers).

Some startups, like TiMetra Networks and Vivace Networks, which are being acquired, respectively, by Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) and Tellabs Inc. (Nasdaq: TLAB; Frankfurt: BTLA), say they won’t support IPv6 in the first release of their products (see Alcatel & TiMetra Seal the Deal and Tellabs Snags Vivace for $135M). But they claim that the functionality is in the hardware, so that they can develop the feature through software later.

“If you don’t have it in your hardware now, you’re up the creek without a paddle,” says Mike Capuano, product marketing manager for the edge portfolio with Juniper. “Even though service providers in the U.S. aren’t deploying IPv6 yet, they want it on gear now.”

— Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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beltway_light
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beltway_light,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 11:50:22 PM
re: IPv6 Coming to America

As Japanese pushing for IPv6, it's their national
interest to do so. They don't want to see the
scarce resource of IPv4 address space being
controlled by US companies. Japan was extreme
late to the Internet arena. Even their electronic
products dominate the world, but none of the
Japanese companies make good IP router/switch
or important Internet applications. The only
way to change this is to change the rule of
the game, which is the IPv6. At least Japen
and US are on the equal foot, or Japan may have
some advantage since they are the ones to
push for the technology.

I completely agree with Geoff Huston that, the
ONLY advantage of IPv6 over IPv4 is the huge
address space. All the other bells and whistles
"improvements" added so far are mostly either
bogus or unpractical. Such an important IPv6
"feature": site-local was deprecated(almost)
in IETF is a good example. Those "things" were
baked under the research type of groups, or
by those "research" type of people in the
industry. I don't see any useful application
which really need IPv6 at this time even in
Japan.

On the other hand, the huge address space may
be a curse to the Internet routing space. The
Internat routes in a tier one backbone has
already exceed 120K, some(including internal
routes) even exceed 240K on a router. Imagine
running with IPv6 in a couple of years, the
routing information exchange may exceed the
user data portion;-)
mr zippy
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mr zippy,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 11:50:19 PM
re: IPv6 Coming to America
"What hasn't been identified in the article is the other "major" reason for IPv6 - to reduce the size of the Internet route table. That is becoming the less visible, but more important reason to adopt it."

Ok, shot my mouth of a bit there. IPv6 also suffers from similar route table scaling problems that IPv4 does.

I have read the Geoffs article, but six months ago. I'd forgotten that it was a myths vs reality article, and just looked at the titles of the paragraphs.

I might be bit more pro-IPv6 than I should be, but after having spend six weeks at my last job developing NAT solutions for IPsec VPNs (you don't want to know the number of permutations there are for Basic NAT or NATPT for VPN NAT Only, Internet NAT Only and VPN + Internet with Hub and Spoke, and Full Mesh VPN topologies), knowing full well there was no need for it, due to the size of the reserved public IPv4 address space.

IPv6 may not be the panasea(sp?) for all the "ills" of the Ipv4 Internet, but just getting rid of the _perceived_ need for NAT will be a significant benefit.
mr zippy
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mr zippy,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 11:50:19 PM
re: IPv6 Coming to America
From his ISP article published here :

"Waiting for IP version 6"
January 2003
http://www.potaroo.net/papers/...

"Of course predicting the future is easy GĒō the tough bit is getting it right! And there are a very diverse set of views on this topic. But for me I confidently expect my wait for IPv6 to be a mainstream global network service to come to a successful conclusion sometime soon."

To summarise what I think Goeff actually said

1) There are plenty of public IPv4 addresses available - have a look here for the IANA reserved blocks http://www.iana.org/assignment...

2) IPv6's most visible benefit is increased address space (read _his_ article for a number of others).

3) We don't need IPv6 now to fix IPv4s perceived lack of public address space - because there isn't one.

What hasn't been identified in the article is the other "major" reason for IPv6 - to reduce the size of the Internet route table. That is becoming the less visible, but more important reason to adopt it.

A great book which discusses the rational behind IPv6 is "IPv6 : The New Internet Protocol" by Christian Huitema.

I'm starting to wonder if the whole NAT "problem / solution" occured because of the tightening of IANA policy on handing out address space (which I basically understand to be "IANA don't prevent you getting public addresses, they just prevent you from wasting them"), and hearsay.
bloth
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bloth,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 11:50:17 PM
re: IPv6 Coming to America
This should do wonders for the Internet as a whole. Half the SPAM I get today freely comes from sites hosted by them. Perhaps if they were more selective what they did with public addresses they wouldn't need more.
jepovic
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jepovic,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 11:50:16 PM
re: IPv6 Coming to America
""On the other hand, the huge address space may
be a curse to the Internet routing space. The
Internat routes in a tier one backbone has
already exceed 120K, some(including internal
routes) even exceed 240K on a router. Imagine
running with IPv6 in a couple of years, the
routing information exchange may exceed the
user data portion;-)""

Duh! The size of the routing table has nothing to do with the size of the addresses (nor the amount of traffic, for that matter). Quite to the contrary, as each ISP can get a huge amount of addresses in one block/prefix. Thus, ISPs will only announce one prefix and the Internet table will shrink to 10-20 K.

The reason why Asia and Europe are so interested in IPv6 is that they will see the address problem much sooner. In Asia, because they came in late and have so many people (Stanford University has more addresses than the country of China). In Europe, because all mobile phones require IP addresses to support GPRS and 3G.

Although Huston is right, the addressing problem is not just a little annoying thing - it's pretty critical.
skeptic
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skeptic,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 11:50:15 PM
re: IPv6 Coming to America
IPv6 may not be the panasea(sp?) for all the "ills" of the Ipv4 Internet, but just getting rid of the _perceived_ need for NAT will be a significant benefit.
---------------

I dont think that anything, including ipv6 is
going to get rid of NAT now. Despite the
problems associated with it, I think its unlikely
that we will return to a single flat address
space even if ipv4 disappears.

desikar
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desikar,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 11:50:14 PM
re: IPv6 Coming to America
Quoting jepovic:

"The reason why Asia and Europe are so interested in IPv6 is that they will see the address problem much sooner. In Asia, because they came in late and have so many people (Stanford University has more addresses than the country of China). In Europe, because all mobile phones require IP addresses to support GPRS and 3G.

Although Huston is right, the addressing problem is not just a little annoying thing - it's pretty critical."

Now we can accomodate the smart toasters, remote A/C units, RFIDs, and people locator implants.

-desikar

priam
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priam,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 11:50:13 PM
re: IPv6 Coming to America
jepovic:
Duh! The size of the routing table has nothing to do with the size of the addresses (nor the amount of traffic, for that matter). Quite to the contrary, as each ISP can get a huge amount of addresses in one block/prefix. Thus, ISPs will only announce one prefix and the Internet table will shrink to 10-20 K.
--------------------
I don't think the main reason ISP's announce more than one prefix is that their address space is fragmented, it's the need for optimizing routing. One can have part of a /8 in NY and part in SF. Good chance one wants Chicago to disaggregate that, if it peers both ways.

A related problem is multihoming, - diverse routes need to be separately announced.

IPv6 doesn't help with either of these. Certainly multihoming is being argued over, I think without conclusion. And I suppose the theoretical ease of renumbering could lead to some topological rationalization. But at root, the more ways you can reach more destinations, the more routes you need.
beltway_light
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50%
beltway_light,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 11:50:13 PM
re: IPv6 Coming to America
>Duh! The size of the routing table has
>nothing to do with the size of the
>addresses (nor the amount of traffic,
>for that matter). Quite to the contrary,
>as each ISP can get a huge amount of
>addresses in one block/prefix. Thus,
>ISPs will only announce one prefix and
>the Internet table will shrink to 10-20 K.

Just like the user is able to take their
cellphone number, with time goes on, the
phone number entries on voice switches will
grow. In IP address space, with multihoming,
changing providers, services to identify
specific user's traffic QoS, etc, the routing
table is going to grow with time. Someone
calculated with IPv4, assume not allow any
route announcement less than /24, the
maximum route one needs to carry is 1 million
for IPv4. period. Can we say the same thing
for IPv6?
Ben Crosby
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Ben Crosby,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/4/2012 | 11:50:12 PM
re: IPv6 Coming to America
A related problem is multihoming, - diverse routes need to be separately announced.

-----

You're absolutely right. Especially since all the edge devices are the ones that are presumably going to be accessible via IPv6...

Various things presented at the IPv6 Summit included as someone pointed out, using IPv6 for everything from Cow tracking, to Salmon tracking through a dam, to RFID replacement.

All these addresses need to be allocated to the end users. Not all of them need to be routed, although I'm sure enough of the lightswitches etc that get IPv6 connected will be routed that people will break aggregated route advertisement.

Invariably end users will want to be multi-homed, either via multiple ISPs or when their power company allocates address space for controlling their power devices, their online gaming provider allocates address space, their internet service provider, entertainment provider etc etc...

Of course you don't break just your owm service providers address space. You might have to punch a hole in your alternate providers address space also.

Bleh. We were discussing this at the IETF in 1997. Why we still don't have a solution, I really don't know :(

Cheers,
Ben

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