Light Reading

Standards Road Is Long, Winding... Bumpy

Bruce Sinclair
News Analysis
Bruce Sinclair
6/26/2014
50%
50%

The stage was set. The work had been done, and now it was decision time. The fate of how the Internet would transition to IPv6 was to be decided, in Hong Kong, on February 23, 2006, at a special IETF Softwires meeting.

There was a lot riding on this for my company, then known as Hexago, now gogo6 . We were a small company, and investing in two full-time people, not to mention a fat travel budget, to attend Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) meetings around the world, was a big deal or, should I say, a big bet. A calculated bet. One typically made only by the largest networking players determined to play standards into a competitive advantage.

At stake was the IPv6 tunneling mechanism to become the gold standard by which all broadband networks and networking vendors would abide. Our transition mechanism, Tunnel Setup Protocol (TSP), was one of two candidates in the running, and without a win, the viability of our company was uncertain.

As we were to learn, however, the road to IPv6 migration would not be as direct as expected, nor would the standards deployment process work out as planned.

Transition mechanisms are the technology and procedures used to migrate to IPv6. In those early days, we saw three paths to migration: dual stack, tunneling, and translation. Among experts at that time, the thinking was: “Dual stack where you can, tunnel where you must, and use translation as a last resort.” Sage advice… in the perfect world.

Here's a look at how the three approaches were viewed:

Dual stack
As Tony Hain, CEO of Hain Consulting and the first chair of the IETF Working Group on IPv6 Transition Technologies (precursor to Softwires), explains: “To some degree, you can call dual stack a procedure. Where the other transition mechanisms are distinct technology instances, dual stack is more of an approach.”

Dual stack yields a dual network where every node and service runs both IPv4 and IPv6, effectively creating two parallel and separate networks. This is the simplest mechanism and most preferred, however implementing dual stack end-to-end can require significant capital and resources.

Tunneling
The next mechanism involves connecting network “islands” separated by different Internet protocols. Packets are encapsulated at one end of the tunnel, routed through the “tunnel” and decapsulated on the other end, after which they continue on their journey. This allows network engineers to fill the gaps in their networks as their transition evolves.

Tunneling comes in many flavors, tailored to specific network types.

  • Configured (manual) tunnels: 6in4. Configured by hand. Secure but labor intensive. Generally used to connect sites.
  • Automatic tunnels: ISATAP, Teredo. Automatically configured but generally not as secure. Used in enterprise to connect users.
  • Brokered tunnels: A tunnel broker automates configured tunnel creation, deletion, and address management. Used in enterprise and by small ISPs to connect users and sites.
  • Softwire tunnels: L2TP, TSP, 6rd, DS-Lite, DSTM, LW4o6, MAP. Built to be deployed in scale by broadband providers. Used to connect users.

"The transition mechanisms being used today are 6rd and DS-Lite for tunneling, and NAT64/DNS64 for translation is also in demand," says John Gudmundson, Senior Manager of Product Marketing for A10 Networks Inc. . "But in practice our customers are also extending their IPv4 address inventory with CGN [carrier-grade network address translation, or NAT]. Many just don’t have a choice."

Translation
And lastly, there is translation, the bad boy of the group. While simple in principle -- IP packets of one type are transformed into packets of the other type -- this approach has a lot of limitations. Translation, such as NAT64, doesn’t work on most security protocols, such as IPSec, and will “break” protocols that include IP addresses in the packet payload (DNS, FTP, SIP…) and apps and services such as Skype, Xbox Live, and Spotify for the same reason.

In 2007, the IETF tried to banish translation by deprecating it to history… but it didn’t work. Nor did we prevail in trying to get our tunneling standard adopted by the IETF.

Hexago was undergoing its own transition. Not long after I joined the company as CEO and raised a $6 million round of VC financing, we lost our founder and his two closest lieutenants, who happened to be our IETF A-team. While I was able to keep the team together for one last fight, it didn't survive against a crack team of 12 IETF specialists, flown in just for this important mission. In the end we would have settled to have two standards, but the IETF Area Chairs were determined to produce a single standard to reference.

We lost. Though we were devastated at the time, in the end it really didn’t matter because no one could have predicted what would happen next.

The rise of the de facto standard
Now, there are standards and there are de facto standards. The first de facto standard to circumvent the IETF was 6rd. Rémi Deprés, 6rd’s inventor and a consultant for the French ISP Free , believed he had a better solution. Never taken seriously at any of the Softwire meetings, 6rd wasn’t even in the running in Hong Kong against TSP and L2TP.

But this didn’t matter, Deprés convinced his management to deploy it anyway. And after connecting 1.5 million subscribers to IPv6 in a five-week span without a hitch, the past was forgotten and the IETF fast-tracked 6rd’s independently submitted RFC to be the second Softwires tunneling standard. Adding to the inventor’s satisfaction were his initials, immortally stamped into his standard.

Due to the delay in implementing IPv6, dual stack and tunneling, the only two sanctioned transition mechanisms, were becoming less and less relevant as each day passed, due to their dependence on the ever-dwindling supply of IPv4 addresses.

This unavailability of IPv4 and a viable transition mechanism created a vacuum. Carrier Grade NAT is not a transition mechanism, but it did fill a need and started to take hold along with a new class of hybrid transition mechanisms that combined tunneling and translation. (See The Dark Side of IPv6.)

Not long after Deprés crashed the party with 6rd, a third Softwires tunneling standard was added to the mix. Alain Durand, from Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and then Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR), had developed a hybrid tunneling mechanism called DS-Lite that combined v4 over v6 tunneling with one layer of NAT.

Hybrid transition mechanisms such as DS-Lite and, more recently, MAP and LW4o6 (optimized DS-Lite) indirectly help migration by encouraging native IPv6-only networks as the start point and using reverse tunneling and address sharing (or translation) to connect to IPv4. Eventually the tunneled traffic and translation disappears, leaving the operator with a next-generation IPv6 network.

Next page: Expect the unexpected

(3)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Page 1 / 2 Next >
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
gogoBruce
50%
50%
gogoBruce,
User Rank: Blogger
8/12/2014 | 8:15:09 AM
Re: IPv6 in 3GPP Mobile
rossc_ie, true, CGN is being used as a transition mechanism but I don't classify it that way as it is not transitioning anything, rather, it's extending the life/use of IPv4.  That said, you make an accurate analysis.  

For a deep dive into one way IPv6 is bing used in mobile, listen to my podcast interview with Cameron Byrne on what he and his team did at T-Mobile: http://www.gogo6.com/14
rossc_ie
50%
50%
rossc_ie,
User Rank: Light Beer
8/12/2014 | 7:39:14 AM
IPv6 in 3GPP Mobile
There's another in the seemingly endless list of transition solutions. Only some of which were mentioned in the article and most of which (6to4, teredo, etc) are best forgotten.  

Smartphones and mobile Internet access took off relatively late, when IPv4 addresses were already being rationed out. So "carrier grade NAT" CGN is ubiquitous in mobile in a way it is not in established fixed Internet providers. So most mobile customer access is already translated, currently mostly from private IPv4 to public IPv4 on the Internet side of the CGN. Some operators have started assigning only IPv6 prefixes to the mobile devices. Native IPv6 bypasses the CGN and legacy IPv4 is translated to and from IPv6 by NAT64 is the CGN.  Android 4.4+ and Windows Phone 8.1 also support the (RFC 6877) "clat" function for the small number of Apps (Skype) that still haven't been updated to support IPv6. 

The advantage over dual-stack is that it transitions more directly to single-stack on the 3GPP link while still supporting legacy IPv4 access. Deployed mobile networks have much better support for single-stack IPv6 in GTP than for dual-stack in GTP because the latter was only introduced with LTE/EPC.
SachinEE
50%
50%
SachinEE,
User Rank: Light Sabre
6/28/2014 | 5:26:27 AM
RE: Internet transition to IPv6
The approaches used to view the issue were spot on. However, two of them really got to my attention- the dual stack yields and tunneling. As stated, the dual stack yields a dual network. This allows both the IPv4 and IPv6 to run parallel directions. As much as using this strategy requires a lot of capital and resources, I would say it's worth it. The other approach where different internet protocols are used is another good one. In my view, these two approaches can yield excellent results if used.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
The New IP is actually bigger even than business. Like another hugely important tech that Light Reading is digging into right now, the New IP has the potential to change the world by fundamentally advancing what it is possible for people to achieve with communications.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Shares Its Vision of the Future of Mobile Networks Innovations

2|26|15   |   2:30   |   (0) comments


Mobile broadband is changing our lives. It's reshaping the Internet, industry, and society. It allows us to freely connect with one another anytime, anywhere. At this year's Mobile World Congress, Huawei will share its latest insights and newest ideas and technologies that will shape the future of MBB. They will showcase their end-to-end MBB solutions that will ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Accelerate Digitizing, Boost Digital Business

2|26|15   |   6:14   |   (0) comments


A new digital revolution is leading us to a better connected world. Together with millions of digital partners, Huawei will help CSPs to build their digital service ecosystem and aggregate a wide variety of digital services. In this video, we find out how Huawei is going to help CSPs implement digital operations.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Secret Recipe to Enabling Hyper-Growth Industries

2|26|15   |   3:38   |   (0) comments


With a number of successful cases on network capability exposure, Huawei is going to share the secret recipe to enabling hyper-growth markets with a step-by-step approach.
LRTV Documentaries
BTE 2015 Is Bigger & Even Better

2|25|15   |   03:13   |   (4) comments


This year's Big Telecom Event (BTE) in Chicago is going to provide more opportunities than ever for networking, getting to grips with key industry challenges and opportunities and, equally as important, having some fun.
LRTV Interviews
Light Reading ICT Leaders Roundtable at MWC 2015

2|12|15   |   1:07   |   (2) comments


On Sunday March 1, 2015, Light Reading will host an ICT Leaders Roundtable in partnership with Huawei. At this half-day event, CIOs, analysts and researchers will discuss key industry trends like virtualization in the cloud with a specific focus on new business models. Located at the luxurious Renaissance Hotel near the Fira Barcelona, space is limited so please ...
LRTV Documentaries
Going Green in 2015

2|12|15   |   02:04   |   (0) comments


Energy efficiency is set to be an incredibly hot topic in the telecom industry this year.
LRTV Custom TV
SDN & NFV: Where Are We Going From Here?

2|11|15   |   11:27   |   (0) comments


Vitesse Semiconductor CTO Martin Nuss gives his perspective on why SDN and NFV should be tightly interconnected and how he sees the industry moving forward.
LRTV Documentaries
Time for Gigabit Europe?

2|9|15   |   01:27   |   (4) comments


Gigabit broadband networks are springing up all around the US and they'll soon become more commonplace in Europe.
LRTV Interviews
Brocade Brings New IP Vision to 2020 Vision Executive Summit

2|3|15   |   4:23   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Light Reading gathered telecom executives in Reykjavik, Iceland to discuss their vision for high-capacity networks through the end of the decade. The intimate, interactive meeting was set against the backdrop of Iceland's spectacular natural beauty. As one of the event's founding sponsors, Brocade's Kelly Herrell shared his company's strategy at ...
LRTV Interviews
Brocade's Kelly Herrell on the New IP

2|2|15   |   12:36   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Steve Saunders sat down with Brocade VP of Software Networking Kelly Herrell at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. They spoke about Brocade's approach to the New IP, the future of the telecom industry, and more.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Dr. Dong Sun Talks About Carriers' Digital Transformation & Huawei’s Telco OS

1|29|15   |   6:28   |   (0) comments


Dr. Dong Sun, Chief Architect of Digital Transformation Solutions at Huawei, discusses how telecom operators can become digital ecosystem enablers and deliver optimal user experiences that are in real-time, on-demand, all-online, DIY and social (ROADS).
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Chief Network Architect Talks about Network Experience & Operators’ Strategies

1|29|15   |   3:39   |   (0) comments


In the digital age, network experience has become the primary productivity especially for telecom operators. In this video, Wenshuan Dang, Huawei’s Chief Network Architect, discusses how carriers can tackle the challenge of infrastructure complexity in order to enhance business agility and improve user experience.
Upcoming Live Events
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Net neutrality, broadband services and the current outlook on data consumption, as presented by the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Hot Topics
Cyber Security Expert Warns: You're Doing It Wrong
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/23/2015
10 Weirdly Useful IoT Devices
Eryn Leavens, Copy Desk Editor, 2/24/2015
Small Cells Enabling Location Services
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 2/25/2015
MWC: Let the Madness Begin
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 2/23/2015
Is FCC Weighing Net Neutrality Changes?
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 2/25/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Check out Light Reading's interview with Jay Samit, the newly appointed CEO of publicly traded SeaChange International Inc. With a resume that includes Sony, EMI, and Universal, Samit brings a reputation as an entrepreneur and a disruptor to his new role at the video solutions company. Hear what he had to say about the opportunities in video, as well as the outlook for cable, telco, OTT and mobile service providers.
G'day! And welcome to an entirely new feature on Light Reading -- our weekly "CEO-to-CEO" interview.