IPv6 Implementation Expertise for Consumer Service Companies is Critical

Improving Competitiveness with IPv6

Providers such as Comcast moved to IPv6 to address scalability constraints and in the process, their brand became recognized Worldwide as thought leaders in IPv6.  Hurricane Electric set the pace in the Tier 1 SP space by focusing primarily on IPv6 and surpassing the IPv4 incumbents.  Free, the hyper innovative European provider jumped on IPv6 early and in the process it created a whole new approach to IPv6 deployment.  They were off the radar and now, other providers are using the standard defined by Free.  I worked with major providers such as ATT, Verizon and Centurylink who are also moving to IPv6 and the challenge they are facing is more related to backend systems and processes than basic transport.

The more devices to manage, the more you need IPv6

Mobile operators are committed to IPv6 out of necessity, they have so many devices to manage and deliver services to. T-mobile is a good example and they took a translation approach to running their trials; spoke to their architect last year.  Various service providers have different approaches to IPv6 adoption.  On the enterprise side, there’s Bechtel, where lots of interesting work is going on.  It was a complex adoption but under Fred Wettling’s leadership, Bechtelopened the way for IPv6 adoption in this space. They are now aligning the cloud and IPv6 initiatives.  This comes back to the whole idea that IPv6 adoption is not an overnight exercise.

As highly as we like to think about our capabilities, these are complex problems and good solutions are developed over several iterations. At national strategy level, Japan has been leading IPv6 adoption for some time, but similarly, China, India, Korea and Singapore are actively driving adoption as well.  They see IPv6 as a competitiveness play and there is lots of new activities and demand in Asia Pacific, especially with the APNIC announcement that it ran out of IPv4 addresses.

The time is now for IPv6

When I worked with these governments on national initiatives in the past, the efforts, the focus were more superficial than what is happening right now.  As far as implementation of IPv6 is concerned, we see most of the techniques are still in play. We love dual-stack; it is where everything is going however, we have 6rd which is an offshoot of 6to4 and NAT64 used for trials and proof of concepts.

The core has been dual-stack for quite some time but we cannot throw out the other transition mechanisms in the short term. I want to emphasize the importance of taking the early steps to do this right and make the most out of this transition.  Comcast was a great example.  They looked at IPv6 as a way to explore other options for their infrastructure.  After a lot of validation and testing which is very important with this transition, IPv6 adoption was a unique opportunityfor them to try a different routing protocol in the core.

Examples of companies who are embracing IPv6

In the case of one giant telecom company I have helped, they were concerned about the scalability of their IPv4 L2TP based model.  The problem was they wanted to secure new services; they wanted to deliver multicast based content over their access infrastructure.  L2TP would not scale to this model.  For them, the new business model depended on a completely new infrastructure.  They wanted to build a next generation infrastructure without a downtime on the operational IPv4 based services.  It was a true transformational process.  Look where you want to go and execute on IPv6.

Plan the move to the Cloud with IPv6 as a key Capability

IT organization’s today are planning the move to Cloud Computing. I am sitting here and thinking we have exhausted theIPV4 address space – so the future is IPv6. If IT organizations are doing the planning to choose the right Cloud delivery models and the right Service Providers, they might as well do the IPv6 assessment and planning at the same time.

The meticulous planning that Enteprises are going through for the Cloud contain all the same underlining components which are part assessment and analysis for determining IPv6 readiness.  They are reviews of:

  • Infrastructure elements
  • Operating Systems
  • Web Services, Application and Databases
  • Service Management Orchestration Tools
  • Security and Risk Impact
  • People and Process.
Are the providers that you choose for either IaaS/PaaS/SaaS capable of delivery IPv6 services across the stack? It will impact your business sooner than you expect.

Other elements, such as infrastructure design and implementation of solutions like  VBLOCK or FLEXPOD are IPv6 ready in addition to network services like Firewalls, Load Balancers, IPS, VPN-GWs to name a few.

If the plan is to move the Applications/Middleware into the Cloud and future proofing it for Next Generation make sure that the Web/Middlware/Applications and Databases are also v6 ready.

In conjunction with addressing the infrastructure, you need to educate the DC/Cloud Architects, Subject Matter Experts and IT Operations team to get ready for IPV6.

Yes the amount of changes required is considerable. But compared to the work that the teams are currently engaged in for strategy and planning for the Cloud the extra efforts will be well worth to futureproof the systems for IPv6.