Georgian College nearly ready for IPv6 launch
With about a month left until World IPv6 Day on June 8, Georgian College’s effort to get its network up and running is going according to plan. And while there have been challenges, the team is making solid progress.

“In two months, we’ve come a long way,” said Steve Benoit, the IT manager at Georgian College, noting that an IPv6 capable version of the Web site should be online by the end of next week. “It’s been a learning process.”

Benoit was speaking at the IPv6 Summit at the University of Ottawa last week. His presentation, 0 to IPv6 in three months –- the view at two months, focused on the college’s effort to implement an IPv6 network.

The college had some unforeseen advantages that allowed it do move forward on the three-month project without having to do a large scale purchase of new networking equipment.

“We found out that a lot of our stuff was [IPv6] capable. We just needed to configure it and understand it,” said Benoit. “As we looked at our stuff, we already had IPv6, the edge router was v6 capable, the DNS server popped up an [IPv6] address, it was totally coincidental.”

This advantage was the result of its strategy to lease networking equipment rather than buy it outright.

Already having some IPv6-capable gear also cut down on the costs for a test lab. The college is able to run both its test and production environments on the same servers, explained Benoit.

Of course, there were challenges: timelines and resources being the most significant.

“Time has been the biggest challenge for us because this wasn’t on the radar for something to do this year,” Benoit said. “So it’s really been a resource challenge.”

As well, when the college decided to shoot for IPv6 day, it neglected to realize that much of its in-house resources would disappear at the end of the semester. While some students would stay on for their work terms, many that had helped during the semester would be leaving. As well, professors weren’t going to be available to help complete the project.

Georgian College also had to make sure it could get IPv6 connectivity. It went to its three providers (Cogent, ORION and Atria Networks – now part of the Rogers Communications empire) to see if they offered the capability. ORION and the college completed their first IPv6 connectivity demonstration in early April. Georgian College and Cogent are still working out some bugs.

“The neighbour discovery process is not completing, it keeps going through a little cycle,” explained Benoit, adding that it goes from not in my neighbour table to forward, delay and then incomplete.

IPv6 connectivity with Rogers is still at the discussion stage.

Benoit offered some recommendations for organizations considering an IPv6 implementation. He suggested talking to a lot of people to find out what they’re doing. Reading a lot of information, whether it’s Internet resources or even the hardware documentation, is also important. And talking to the tech staff at the ISPs can also be a fruitful exercise as they represent a great source of information.

“Was three months time enough? No. Is any amount of time enough? Probably not because there is always some more you can learn but at some point you have to do it,” said Benoit. 

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