‘Anemic’ adoption imperils IPv6, says consultant

Two new and vital Internet protocols won’t be adopted by service providers or organizations unless supporters build a business case for managers, a consultant has warned a Canadian conference.

Implementation of the IPv6 addressing scheme and the DNSSEC (Domain Name System Security Extensions) IP address authentication specification has been “anemic,” Bill St. Arnaud of Ottawa’s St. Arnaud-Walker and Associates told the Canadian ISP Summit on Monday in Toronto.

“If we don’t do something soon, the future of these two protocols is in doubt,” he said.

IPv6 is an addressing protocol needed because the existing IPv4 protocol is running out of addresses. DNSSEC is needed to protect desktop clients from forged DNS data in caches. But, the conference was told by a number of speakers, there’s hesitation by many in the Internet environment – from enterprises to carriers – to move quickly.

The culprit fingered by many speakers is lack of demand by end users.

The solution, says St. Arnaud, is to find a business case that makes adoption of new technologies worthwhile.

For example, his company is working with the SURFnet education and research network in the Netherlands to create an IPv6-only LTE wireless network to be built by the country’s phone company, KPN. SURFnet has an IPv6 wired network and wants adoption to spread. The solution is to get KPN to build a new IPv6 wireless network. To pay for it, SURFnet is leasing much-needed IPv4 addresses to the phone company. To generate demand for the new network, it will offer unlimited data for university students who can only use IPv6-enabled smart phones and tablets. The result, it is hoped, that demand for IPv6 devices will increase. The project is currently in a pilot.

 “We’ve been at IPv6 for 10 years … and how far have we got?” St. Arnaud asked in an interview. “I’ve been at dozens of these types of conferences where everybody says ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, IPv6!’ and nothing happens.”

What service providers and enterprises should do, he said, is “run a pilot, find a new market, find a new business case that enables IPv6 and also enables new applications and business opportunities.”

Strategies for adopting IPv6 and DNSSEC was the theme of the first day of the conference’s first day.

There was general agreement that Canadian ISPs haven’t got much further than testing the protocols for a variety of reasons.

Chris Allen, president of British Columbia’s ABC Communications, said in an interview that his company is waiting for Telus Communications, its wholesale provider, to implement IPv6 on its network. Other Canadian ISPs are waiting for their large carrier suppliers to do the same, he said.

“Until they do, it’s tough to imagine that small players with less resources will face the struggle for something that has economic payback.”

His company’s core network supports IPv6, he added, but some of the first generation wireless equipment in subscribers’ homes won’t.

On the other hand, he was encouraged by speakers who said IPv4 and IPv6 can be run together in so-called dual stack mode, which will give time for upgrades.

In fact several speakers tried to dispel fears that implementing IPv6 will be a strain. Owen DeLong, an IPv6 evangelist at Hurricane Electric, a Freemont, Calif.-based backbone provider, told the conference that most recent core network equipment should be IPv6-enabled.

“It just isn’t that hard once you start doing it,” he advised. “It’s pretty straight forward.”

Jacques Latour, IT director of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA), which has deployed IPv6 on its systems along side IPv4, told the conference that a readiness assessment established that most of its equipment was already IPv6-ready. “A lot of people think that everything has to be v6,” he said, but only key equipment needs to be enabled for the protocol.

Next month the Internet Society, a non-profit education group, will initiate a series of online portals stocked with IPv6 and DNSSEC knowledge bases, case studies, blogs and social media sites in six languages to help administrators implement these technologies.

The conference continues Tuesday.


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