In an event passing nearly un-noticed, with the potential impact of a virtual asteroid slamming into the heart of Manhattan, the Internet Assigned Number Authority (IANA)  without fanfare, and without understanding by most of the global Internet, allocated the final blocks of IPv4 (Internet Protocol Version 4) addresses to regional Internet registries (RIRs) during the first week of February.

While the “Internet” is not in danger of an imminent meltdown, the message is clear, “get ready to adopt IPv6, the accepted successor to IPv4, or accept the reality your business is on a countdown timer.”

IPv4 CounterExhaustion of IPv4

Let’s consider a couple analogies to help visualize what IPv4 exhaustion means.

Fossil Fuels.  We know there is a limit to the amount of oil and coal available to our planet.  Once the oil and coal are gone, those sources of energy are also gone.  We are now aggressively looking at ways to produce energy through alternate methods, including solar power, wind power, hydrogen, and other thermal sources.

No question, when the oil is gone, it is gone, and we will no longer have it is a potential source of energy.  There may be a period of buying and selling remaining resources, there may be stocks of fuel that will extend the life of a single country or group longer than others – but when oil is gone it is gone.  Ditto IPv4, although the initial allocation of addresses will remain, they just won’t be able to connect to the rest of the world.

.Airplane Seats.  An airplane might have 250 seats on a flight from Chicago to Los Angeles.  Once those seats are filled, nobody else is getting on the airplane.  You might be able to barter for seats, beg somebody to disrupt their plans because you want to sit next to a friend or wife/husband, or you might get an offer to go on a different flight if you are willing to let somebody else go in your seat – however when the jetway door closes, you are not getting on the airplane.

OK, no perfect analogies, because we all know the Internet is a constant, and will operate at IPv4 for a long time if you are one of the lucky ones with plenty of IPv4 addresses under your control.  However for those who want to develop new products and services, build new networks, or implement some new cosmic internet-enabled “thingy,” the door is just about shut.

Internet-connected ladies and gentlemen, IPv4 addresses are now fully allocated to the regional registries.  Nothing left in the bank.

Why IPv6 Needs to be Taken Seriously

In late 2010 I took part in a networking workshop in Kingston, Jamaica.  Quite a few participants from Caribbean academic networks, including representatives from Trinidad, Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Bahamas, and Grenada.  As IPv6 was not on the agenda, nor was it discussed, I had no choice but to raise the question “how about IPv6?  Where does that fit into the regional strategy?”

The response was uniformly “we have plenty of IPv4 addresses available, we do not need IPv6 in the Caribbean.”  Discussions with government network leadership in Indonesia throughout 2010 resulted in similar responses- IPv6 was simply not on the list of priorities.  The network works, why mess with it?

Thankfully Indonesia has very robust private industry support of IPv6, and IPv6 is being addressed in spite of government indifference.

No story or article on IPv6 can pass without a sidebar or paragraph on the numbers of IPv4 vs. IPv6.  Here are the numbers once again – if you have not had a chance to grasp the scope of our preaching and evangelism.

IPv6 was developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to deal with the long-anticipated IPv4 address exhaustion, and is described in Internet standard document RFC 2460, published in December 1998. While IPv4 allows 32 bits for an Internet Protocol address, and can therefore support 232 (4,294,967,296) addresses, IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses, so the new address space supports 2128 (approximately 340 undecillion or 3.4×1038 ) addresses. This expansion allows for many more devices and users on the internet as well as extra flexibility in allocating addresses and efficiency for routing traffic.

WikiPedia

This means if we, as a planet, want to move ahead with things such as intelligent grids, intelligent devices, new applications, new internet-enabled everything – we will need to have adequate IP address space to accommodate that future.  We cannot do that with IPv4 address limitations, but IPv6 gives us enough space to grow to the point we cannot currently even fully understand the entire extent of that address space.  Or in other words, IPv6 will do the job for the next couple Internet-enabled generations.

The Future of the Internet is Ours to Choose

Martin Levy, Director IPv6 Strategy at Hurricane Electric, one of those thought leaders who has been driving Internet at the operational level for a really, really long time sums it up succinctly,

IPv4 was yesterday’s news. Today is the day after yesterday, where IPv6 matters to each and every user of the global Internet. (Martin’s Blog)

Even as you read this blog, the available IPv4 address space is slipping away.  The Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) are reviewing their IPv4 allocation policies, and you can go to sleep with relative certainty the little guy is not going to be in a very strong position when those last blocks of addresses are issued.

Discussions are popping up all over the Internet on how we can step back and find more efficient ways to use the existing IPv4 address space, squeezing more time out of it through global cooperation, emergence of trading and markets for the buying and selling of IPv4 addresses, and even more creative use of network address translation.

Or of course they could simply spend the same amount of energy to deploy IPv6 in their networks.

What Can the End User Do?

Well, after years of promoting IPv6 – at least in marketing materials, equipment vendors are finally starting to produce hardware which can handle “Native IPv6” routing.  Cisco/Linksys, NetGear, Belkin, and all the other guys are finally stepping up to meet the needs of consumers.  Mobile phone vendors and applications providers for iPhones, Androids, and Windows are being forced to produce IPv6-ready products.  The tools are finally starting to become available.

Internet providers in Asia, Europe, and the Americas are finally putting IPv6 capability into their networks, and the topic is no longer responded to with amusement and indifference by network operators and administrators.

But within the broad community of IT administrators,  applications developers, private and government network providers – the actual IPv6-readiness factor is pretty low.

So again, what can we do?

Easy, as a consumer, employee, manager, or user of Internet services we have somebody – whether it be an organizational IT manager, ISP, or other provider, who is responsible for implementing IPv4 or continuing to put virtual scotch tape and bubble gum on a a geriatric IPv4 network.

Raise the question as a consumer.  Raise the question as a manager.  Raise the question as a corporate strategist.  Raise the question to everybody above your level that is blocking or not adequately answering the need to consider or implement IPv6 in your network.

Ask them at what point the “Law of Plentitude,” or that point where not having access to IPv6 will put you in a competitive, social, or professional risk will be reached.  At what point, if your Internet-connected world is not IPv6-connected, will you be denied access to your community?  And what are they going to do about it?

Epilogue

From the Internet Society

World IPv6 Day

On 8 June, 2011, Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Akamai and Limelight Networks will be amongst some of the major organisations that will offer their content over IPv6 for a 24-hour “test flight”. The goal of the Test Flight Day is to motivate organizations across the industry – Internet service providers, hardware makers, operating system vendors and web companies – to prepare their services for IPv6 to ensure a successful transition as IPv4 addresses run out.

In the Australian IT online edition Paul Wilson, head of the RIR for Asia (APNIC), was quoted “I gave a presentation in Japan last year where I said: ‘look we’re not asking you to panic, but maybe you should panic just a little bit’.”

Global Internet Network Providers are starting to take notice, but they sadly represent a small percentage of the global Internet-connected IT administration and applications development community.  Call your network representative and ask if they are participating in World IPv6 Day.  Ask them “why not” if you get a negative reply.  If you represent a government or company, force the issue.  If you are a consumer, consider changing providers if your network shows indifference.

IPv6 will happen – don’t be on the wrong side of plentitude.

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How many times have travelers been annoyed to hear the sanctimonious words of flight attendants reminding us how to use a seat belt? Rather than a simple “please fasten your seat belt,” the FAA and airlines insist on giving a detailed example of how to insert the tip into the seatbelt latch and pull the excess fabric to tighten the belt.

Fasten your IPv6 Seat BeltApparently there are still people in the world who have never fastened a seat belt in their lives, and need instruction on how to operate the belt. In California we are bombarded daily with “Click it or Ticket” billboards and radio campaigns reminding us the “police are on the lookout” for those who are not wearing seatbelts, talking on cell phones while driving, texting while driving, and driving after consuming massive amounts of drugs or alcohol.

Everybody knows right from wrong, and what is a violation. However the message is still thrown in the face of every person hitting the roads or commercial airlines as if it is a revelation.

“IPv4 is Facing Exhaustion – Move to IPv6,” repeat message

OK, the same message has been pushed forth into the Internet community for more than 10 years. Everybody who has been through a basic indoctrination of the internet knows that this IPv6-thingy is important, will impact our lives, and is not going to fade away any time soon.

And just like the message on wearing seatbelts and not texting while driving, most of the Internet community still has not accepted the fact if they violate the law (or ignore the message of IPv4 exhaustion), they will either get a professional ticket, or at a worst case go sailing through their Internet windshield (“windscreen” for any Englanders in the audience) and end up in a bloody connectivity pulp.

NANOG 49 is getting ready to kick off their summer meeting in San Francisco, has a whopping 3 named sessions out of around 40 dedicated to the IPv6 topic. One is the obligatory Google presentation reminding everybody how smart they are, and the other two are fairly important topics giving an IPv6 adoption update from Renesys, and a discussion from Comcast on driving IPv6 into the home through the cable TV network.

Of course Hurricane Electric and the patron saint of IPv6 evangelism, Martin Levy, will be hanging around the halls providing thought leadership. Of note, Hurricane Electric is one of the few companies actually engaged in bringing the IPv6 message to the public, with one kind of cool tool called their IPv6 Certification process. This is a semi-serious, semi-fun Pre-IPv6 101 course intended to stimulate users to think more about IPv6 and accept the undeniable fact it is an important part of our future.

But the NANOG Crowd is Not the Audience

NANOG (the North American Network Operators Group) meets three times a year. In the early days, much like Internet Society meetings, it was a place for engineers and thought leaders to indulge in a fellowship of mindshare and development. There is still a glimmer of cooperation and desire for many of the old timers to lead masses through complicated development of the Internet and Internet deployments, however much like the “Inet” conferences of the past, it is now spoken more in terms of parties and sales opportunities than creating the next generation of Internet.

Sure, somebody will probably pull the plug on IPv4 wireless access at some point during the conference to show not only how clever they are, but also that Microsoft XP still does not eloquently handle IPv6 on demand – however the message is not necessarily getting to the people who need to know how to fasten their IPv6 seatbelt.

Those networks, and people at NANOG representing those networks, who have not already adopted IPv6 will soon succumb to natural selection. American companies such as Verizon have quietly rebuilt their networks to accommodate IPv6, and in fact are wiring everything in their network to further accommodate providing an IPv6 address to everything they touch. Power companies are implementing IPv6 in the smart grid architectures being deployed – and eventually everything down to your refrigerator will be IPv6-enabled. Some smart people are out there.

So…

The IPv6 thought leadership audience has to be the remaining IT managers in every enterprise in the United States (and of course around the rest of the world…), application developers, all the internet access network providers – basically everybody in the Internet “food chain” up to the end user.

No, I do not want my 80 year old mother being responsible for understanding IPv6 address allocation and management. I want the Internet and Internet applications to be just as transparent to her in the future as it is today. She wants to see my Yorkie over Skype without understanding the network infrastructure bringing her the image – and most of the user world deserves the same insulation from the ones and zeros of network technology.

The 500 people attending a NANOG are a very small audience, and an audience that is just as callous to the topic as I am to an airline safety demonstration, and will not be the audience getting the best use of IPv6 presentations and thought leadership.

IPv4 Depletion is Just as Devastating as the Gulf Oil Spill

ARIN, the American Registry for Internet Numbers, and the group responsible for managing IPv4 address space in North America, continues to remind us:

“With less than 10% of IPv4 address space remaining, organizations must adopt IPv6 to support applications that require ongoing availability of contiguous IP addresses. Internet Protocol defines how computers communicate over a network. IP version 4 (IPv4), the currently prevalent version, contains just over four billion unique IP addresses. IPv6 is a newer numbering system that provides a much larger address pool than IPv4, among other features.”

10% is a very small number.

As the IPv4 address space is further depleted, and if companies and organizations have never prepared their networks for IPv6, the result for American companies will not be pretty. Unable to collaborate on an application level with their peers around the world (yes, as you might expect, those pesky Europeans and Asians are doing everything possible to take a leadership role in front of the Americans with IPv6 – or maybe they are just more fearful of the potential impact of running short on IPv4 address space), American companies will suffer.

All manufacturing machinery will be network-enabled (yes, with IPv6 addresses), ERP, CRM, OSS, BSS – basically everything we build and sell stuff with, requires IPv6.

Good luck Martin Levy. Americans need you to continue spreading the word. Not only blasting it through a loudspeaker, but in the creative manner provided by Hurricane Electric’s IPv6 Academy and Certification process. Fun, but serious.

Us IT guys have a lot of work to do in the next couple years. IPv6, building the 4th Utility, developing cloud exchanges, developing greener data centers. Yes, it is a good time for Information and Communications Technology professionals.

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This is the third part in an interview series with Martin Levy, Director of IPv6 Strategy at Hurricane Electric. In this segment Martin discusses the future of Hurricane Electric, IPv6, bandwidth, and global Internet development.

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Pacific-Tier: Can you cite one defining moment that really makes Hurricane Electric stand out as a company within the Internet industry?

Martin Levy: There are a couple of different moments.

From an internal operations point of view the company was able to migrate to a new IP backbone about four years ago. That took us from the pre-IPv6 native mode, into pure IPv6. That fundamental point done well in advance of a lot of other companies.

It may well have gone unnoticed in the industry (at the time). But it is not unnoticed at this time.

We have taken that base, taken that moment and have been able to run this extremely stable, and extremely reliable IP backbone for v4 (IPv4) and v6 (IPv6) support.

So you go back to that point in time, and you (think) of having a ceremony and a toast at that point. As quiet as it was, and a very engineering moment as it was, it really redefined Hurricane Electric. That was an event really about four years ago.

The second one is a totally different measure. The second one which will be talked about at just an anonymous level for obvious reasons was when we brought in our first core v6 customer at a major wholesale level, and the details are (they were) a much larger company (than Hurricane Electric).

We were able to do that because the customer requirement was v6. The customer purchase was for v4, paying 99% of the bill, v6 maybe 1% of the bill. That’s the reality. We have no way of saying v6, from a bandwidth point of view is a massive issue at the moment.

But when that occurred, that was the moment that we knew it wasn’t at the bandwidth levels v6 was operating at, it wasn’t about the number of eyeballs that were enabled, or the number of servers, it was about the fact the enterprise and the wholesale market had realized why v6 was so important.

When that event occurred, which is now a couple of years ago, we knew that we had the right product at the right time for the marketplace. And the test of time has proven that since then.

Pacific-Tier: One final question. Anything you would like to share with us about Hurricane’s vision for the future, or where Hurricane may be going this year, next year, or after?

Martin Levy: We have a plate full!

We have expansion in Europe. We have additional bandwidth into Asia, because there is nothing slowing down in Asia whatsoever.

We have a new data center that we’ve opened in California, a new phase of a data center we’ve opened in California about two or three months ago. And it is quickly filling up.

So I would say it is growth in most measurable directions. The geography is an obvious one. We are looking as we did last year at additional cities in Europe – that’s an ongoing project. In Asia it’s more about more bandwidth into the same cities, and on the network we are just looking at more and more customers who take v6 seriously and are looking for a provider that has that solution at hand without it being a special.

Pacific-Tier: Any final points?

Martin Levy: This Internet thing – it may catch on!

Its not that we are going to see a new Internet. It’s that we are going to see with v6 an Internet that has truly matured, and we’re going to see even more accelerated growth. Whether it be within the mobile wireless world, or other worlds, we’re going to see enormous growth.

If we have this interview again in five years we are going to laugh at how little bandwidth was available in 2010. And we are just going to blow the roof off bandwidth-wise.

Pacific-Tier: Thank you for your great counsel!

Previous segments of Martin’s Interview:

  • Part 1 – Martin levy Discusses the Global Urgency to Deploy IPv6
  • Part 2 – Martin Levy Explains Hurricane Electric’s Success in a Tough Economy
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This is part two in a series of interviews with Martin Levy, Director of IPv6 Strategy at Hurricane Electric

Hurricane Electric is one of those rare companies that have survived, and grown in the past two years. A private company, Hurricane Electric has become one of the largest Internet Service Providers in the world, and is a leader in IPv6 deployment. In this article Martin Levy shares a few ideas on how Hurricane Electric approaches their business and continued growth.

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Pacific-Tier: It’s been a really rough economy, and we’ve seen networks (Internet Service Provider networks) falling fairly rapidly over the last two years. How is it that Hurricane Electric continue to grow, continues to survive, and continues to expand your network presence?

Martin Levy on Internet Economics and SuccessMartin Levy: We’re very conservative, which is a total counter statement to being a technology advanced company. But let me explain.

Hurricane Electric is a private company. We are funded internally, we are funded by growth, and as much as the company is 15 years old we have grown steadily, we have grown conservatively over those years.

The beauty of the company is that we haven’t gone off and spent somebody else’s money and randomly done stuff with the hope it would succeed. Everything we’ve done, has been done with methodical care – quite conservatively, and done when we know that it will help with our revenue stream, and we will grow the company.

We did that with our growth into Europe, we did that with our growth into additional and larger data center space, we did that with our growth into Asia – projects that have been going on for about a year and a half, maybe longer.

All of that, based on the fact the company is private, and the company is dedicated to just doing things that have lacked in the industry, and not just doing things that are at a random level have meant that we have been able to survive the initial; “host.com era,” in the classic 2001, 2002, 2003 timeline.

But also the recession that we’ve had over the last year, year and a half, where we were set up to hunker down without any problem and didn’t really change much of our day-to-day operations.

We also are very lucky in the sense that we have a customer base, that quite frankly has always grown, and has always grown in its bandwidth needs. In the data center business there has been a requirement to add more customers, more space for every customer, more bandwidth for every customer.

In the wholesale IP word we have the same thing. Because as much as we’ve had a recession from a banking and from a Wall Street point of view, we’ve not had a recession in a bandwidth point of view. The requirements of our customers have been to grow bandwidth continuously, throughout that time, and that has been to our advantage. Here in the United States, and also in our global locations.

Pacific-Tier: How important is it for Hurricane to be a global company, rather than concentrating your efforts on growing your points of presence in North America? How important is it to become a global company today?

Martin Levy: That’s a great question!

I’ll push it back as a question, but answer it myself!

Is the Internet local or global? We find that connectivity has in nearly every situation, a global component. There is as much interest in the updates on somebody’s status on a Facebook or on a Twitter, or whatever social networking locally as well as globally.

The requirement, as we need to see it, for large amounts of connectivity, in Europe, in Asia, and the gateway cities within the United States, whether that be on the East Coast, the West Coast, or facing north or south, those bandwidth requirements have been forever increasing. And that has never been more so than the last couple of years where we’ve seen some amazing spikes (in traffic).

We as a company, because we run a global IP backbone, have always been in a great position to help service customers in those other geographies. It doesn’t mean that we ignore our backyard, the Silicon Valley, or the Los Angeles, or the New Yorks, or Washington D.C. areas – far from it.

But the reality is that as bandwidth prices for transport go down, we also see the requirement for larger and larger bandwidth to be pulled in to some of the cities around the globe, and because we have a global network we are ready to service them (networks in global locations served by Hurricane Electric).

Previous articles in this series:

  • Part 1 – “Martin Levy Discusses the Global Urgency to Deploy IPv6″

I met Martin Levy for the first time in Honolulu at the Pacific Telecommunications Council ‘2007 conference. After several coffees at the Kalia Tower, and an hour or so discussions on data centers, networks, and IPv6, I knew I had found a true evangelist in the Internet industry. Several more conference coffees in different locations around the world, and I became one of his IPv6 disciples.

As a senior member of the Hurricane Electric team, Martin enthusiastically spreads the IPv6 word to locations around the world including Slovenia, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Taipei, Brussels, and the European Commission – in addition to acting as a consultant to IPv6 developers and global digital government policy groups.

An accomplished speaker and writer, Martin brings a unique talent effectively delivering IPv6 thought leadership and actual IPv6 network deployment experience to the Internet community.

Martin Levy IPv6 Dir of Strategy at Hurricane ElectricThis is part one of a Pacific-Tier Communications Thought Leadership series interview with Martin Levy, Director of IPv6 Strategy at Hurricane Electric. Hurricane Electric is a leading Internet backbone and colocation provider specializing in colocation, dedicated servers, direct Internet connections and web hosting.

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“Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is the next-generation Internet Protocol version designated as the successor to IPv4, the first implementation used in the Internet that is still in dominant use today” (Wikipedia)

“With only about 10% of IPv4 address space remaining, organizations must adopt IPv6 to support applications that require ongoing availability of contiguous IP addresses.” (ARIN)

“Organizations relying on the Internet to conduct business have only a limited time to act and adapt to changing technology. Those that delay, run the risk their online services may become unavailable to a rapidly growing number of users.” (APNIC)

Pacific-Tier: Tell me a bit of the sense of urgency on (the Internet community) moving to IPv6, and what Hurricane is doing related to the topic?

Martin Levy: Urgency is a word that has been used now for many, many years when it comes to v6. But the reality is, that we have, for every years that has passed, gotten closer to where there are real limitations on the amount of new v4 (IPv4) space that can be added into the market place and added into the existing global Internet.

2010 really marks a time when we have less than two years of available space that can be allocated to the core registries, to the RIRs (regional Internet registries). And as this year and next year go by, we are going to start seeing rules that have never been seen on the global Internet. We are going to see people with requirements to substantiate their use of v4 space in ways that they have never done till this point.

They will see a requirement for documentation, for signatures, sometimes from corporate executives, officers of the company – at least in the US. This will be a whole new world.

If that doesn’t wake people up to the fact that the world is changing, it is unclear what will.

Pacific-Tier: What is Hurricane doing itself to help push this issue along?

Martin Levy: We have always been evangelizing v6, but we’ve been doing it in a way that the users are encouraged to implement v6. In our case “users” means our wholesale providers (Internet service or network providers) that are buying our existing v4 services.

So we have made it easy at the wholesale level to bring on IPv6 connectivity anywhere on our backbone – anywhere globally on our backbone. That, as well as going out into the community and talking about v6 has been a core effort we’ve brought to the table.

It can get better. In some cases we can help a customer understand just how easy it is now, as opposed to five years ago. There really isn’t, for anybody who had bought fairly new hardware any problem enabling v6. There is a set of golden rules to follow from a security point of view. From an operations measurement and monitoring point of view.

But in reality most people can enable v6 themselves and get their feet wet, with great ease. We have spent our time talking with people and convincing them of that fact, quite successfully.

Pacific-Tier: I hear a lot of companies talking about tunneling v6 through and existing v4 network. Is Hurricane running what we would call a “native v6 network” within your backbone?

Hurricane Electric Internet ServicesMartin Levy: Everything on our backbone is 100% native. The core network, all of the Internet peering ports, all of the customer ports, the connections into our data center customers are all what is called “dual-stacked.” In other words they all run native v6, and, if you want to use the term, native v4.

That means that every connection provided is provided as a pure v6 connection. Now, we also provide, because it is needed, “tunnel broker service.” This is a v6 tunneled over v4 service. We’ve been doing this for many years. And there are users, whether they are at home, on a broadband connection in this country or somewhere else in the world, whether they are a software developer working inside a company that needs a v6 connection for software testing… Or whether they are just a home enthusiast, or in some cases it could be a whole university in some foreign country that has no way to get a native v6 connection. They can use the tunnel broker service.

They can use the tunnel broker service with BGP for full routing if they need to, and connect up to the v6 global network though a tunnel connection. In some cases there is no other way to do it.

But the core of the network, every single POP (point of presence or locations), 26 or 28 of them around the world are all configured native v6.

Pacific-Tier: What is your feeling about how your end users, or your actual customers, are using IPv6 in their networks? Is it becoming a fairly mainstream enterprise protocol, or do you have a lot of work to do to teach or provide thought leadership in the market in that area?

Martin Levy: I won’t lie. There’s an awful lot of education that needs to be done, and there’s an awful lot of work that needs to be done – and in some cases even within wholesale or broadband networks. You can break it down into two or three different issues.

The first issue that touches any network is just their outside connectivity. Their core backbone, and links to the outside world, links into providers like ourselves (Hurricane Electric). Those have to be enabled for v6.

And because they are network entry points, that brings up the issue of network security right at the beginning of the day. The interesting thing is, network security for v6 is really identical to v4 – it’s just the syntax that changes.

The addresses are longer, and you have to use colons instead of dots in the addresses. But the theory is always the same. If I deny access to a particular service over v4, I would deny access over v6. The service could be something as simple as SNMP polling of your core router. It could be more complicated like an internal set of web servers.

Any filtering that can be done with v4 can be done with v6.

The second part that needs to be thought about is what part of your network needs to be first seen by the outside world, or in the v6 arena. And it boils down to simple service like DNS for converting names to numbers. Potentially, if you are an enterprise, inbound and outgoing email.

Obviously, your web site. If you are able to bring up your website as v6-enabled, if you are able to bring up certain web services as v6-enabled, you can take those off the list. But even that doesn’t hit the prime point, which broadband and wholesale buyers of IP transit need, and that is IPv6 connectivity to their end users.

In this area are cable MSO, DSL, or wireless network end user environment, they are going to work with all of the protocols and equipment needed to connect to their end customers, and potentially the education of the end customer.

And that is the part that still needs the most amount of work. But luckily for us at Hurricane Electric, we are a wholesale provider. So our issues are really in getting the first stage done, and potentially helping with the second stage. The third stage is left to the customer. And that (the third stage) is the hard part.

But from a wholesale point of view we get our part done, and we know that we can at least enable IPv6 to move and ensure the routing is as solid as it would be in the v4 world.

Pacific-Tier: So do you see new applications, and emerging technologies such as cloud computing, or global distributed cloud computing models that require a lot of addresses to support their VLANs and their internal process – do you see that helping enterprise adjust or have a better sense of urgency on how critical it is to start employing v6 in their networks?

Martin Levy: The story of IPv6 and cloud computing comes up on a regular basis, and it is a real, real requirement. It doesn’t seem to go away, and the two items (IPv6 and cloud computing) seem to be well-connected to each other.

But what’s more interesting as you talk to enterprises is you start hearing a story of “what are you going to do in a world that internally, the complexity of your internal network has started to push the bounds of how you would run an IPv4 network. Clashing private address space, stuff like that.

So we see even outside of cloud computing, where an enormous number of addresses are needed, that in complex enterprises or enterprise back office systems, we see benefits to the very large address spaces being given out. It may not be considered to be a killer application, but it definitely provides a solution far better than can exist in some legacy v4 environments.

Pacific-Tier: Do you have an opinion on the ability of companies such as Verizon Wireless, AT&T Wireless, T-Mobile, as they deploy their LTE and 4G networks. Will that serve as a further catalyst to force companies into the IPv6 world?

Martin Levy: I think the most pleasing part of that is that we are seeing a clear, solid understanding how and why IPv6 and IPv4 must be taken into account within the LTE or next generation wireless world. If you go back and look at very early documents on other wireless structure that have come into the marketplace, they were always very v4-centric.

This has now changed. Now it doesn’t mean that you and I are going to end up throwing away all our 3G, and in some cases 2G hardware, and be forced to go out and buy LTE or 4G hardware and magically get v6. The reality is the back office requirements for those wireless providers still have a lot of work that needs to be done.

Still, the end-user connectivity is being defined with v6 in mind. I have a lot more faith that as of today we’ll see a lot more items like that show up in the market place in a more seamless manner.

Keep in mind that we already see not every, and not so much the popular ones, but we do see certain smart phones in the marketplace that are v6-enabled and applications capable. They are v6 capable over their WiFi connections vs. their 3G connections. But at least it shows the base technology inside smart phones and smart phone products acknowledges why v6 is important.

People may not be using it very much, but that will change.

Pacific-Tier: Where does Hurricane fit in the big picture with IPv6 today? How do you rank with other networks in your category of size, scope, and scale of your IPv6 deployment vs. the rest of the network world?

Martin Levy: Over the last few years the amount of v6 traffic that we have carried has just grown enormously. It has grown by two different measures.

In actual raw bits moved around, while small compared to IPv4, we’re moving a heck of a lot more IPv6 traffic now than we were a year, or maybe two years ago.

The other measure the number of routes, the number of customers, the number of adjacencies, and the number of peering connections with other core backbones we have. We have taken those numbers and eclipsed every other provider, putting us in the number one position globally.

That is a testament to the network engineers, and the dedication the whole company has (to IPv6). And we’ve really done that because v6 is not a side project for us. V6 is not an “add on” to our existing v4 service. V6 is not something we do as a special. It means that every single connection, every customer, every peer, every interconnect on our network, is v4 and v6-enabled.

We keep each protocol on equal footing so we don’t have at any point the thinking that v6 is special. It is part of our DNA, and it is part of our base thinking for everything that we do on the network.

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A cloud spot market allows commercial cloud service providers the ability to announce surplus or idle processing and storage capacity to a cloud exchange. The exchange allows A look into cloud development for 2010buyers to locate available cloud processing capacity, negotiate prices (within milliseconds), and deliver the commodity to customers on-demand.

Cloud processing and storage spot markets can be privately operated, controlled by industry organizations, or potentially government agencies. Spot markets frequently attract speculators, as cloud capacity prices are known to the public immediately as transactions occur.

The 2010 cloud spot market allows commercial cloud service providers to support both franchise (dedicated service level agreement) customers, as well as on-demand customers to participate in a spot market that allows customers to automatically move their applications and storage to providers offering the best pricing and service levels based on a pre-defined criteria.

I don’t really care who’s CPUs and disk I am using, I really only care that it is there when I want it, offers adequate performance, has proximity to my end users, and meets my pricing expectations.

Cloud Storage Using SSDs on the Layer 2 Switch

Content delivery networks/CDNs want to provide end users the best possible performance and quality – often delivering high volume video or data files. Traditionally CDNs build large storage arrays and processing systems within data centers, preferably adjacent to either a carrier hotel meet-me-room or Internet Exchange Point/IXP.

Sometimes supported by bundles of 10Gigabit ports connecting their storage to networks and the IXP.

Lots of recent discussion on topics such as Fiber Channel over Ethernet/FCoE and Fiber Channel over IP/FCoIP. Not good enough. I want the SSD manufacturers and the switch manufacturers to produce an SSD card with a form factor that fits into a slot on existing Layer 2 switches. I want a Petabyte of storage directly connected to the switch backplane allowing unlimited data transfer rates from the storage card to network ports.

Now a cloud storage provider does not have to buy 50 cabinets packed with SAN/NAS systems in the public data center, only slots in the switch.

IPv6

3tera got the ball rolling with IPv6 support in AppLogic. No more excuses. IPv6 support first, then add on IPv4 support as a failover to IPv6. The basic criteria to all other design issues. No IPv6 – then shred the design.

Cloud Standardization

Once again the world is being held hostage by equipment and software vendors posturing to make their product the industry standard. The user community is not happy. We want spot markets, the ability to migrate among cloud service providers when necessary, and a basis for future development of the technology and industry.

The IP protocols were developed through the efforts of a global community dedicated to making the Internet grow into a successful utility. Almost entirely supported through a global community of volunteers, the Internet Engineering Task Force and innovators banded together and built a set of standards (RFCs) for all to use when developing their hardware and applications.

Of course there were occasional problems, but their success is the Internet as it is today.

Standardization is critical in creating a productive development environment for cloud industry and market growth. There are several attempts to standardize cloud elements, and hopefully there will be consolidation of those efforts into a common framework.

Included in the efforts are the Distributed Management Task Force/DMTF Open Cloud Standards Incubator, Open Grid Forum’s Open Cloud Computing Interface working group, The Open Group Cloud Work Group, The Open Cloud Manifesto, the Storage Network Industry Association Cloud Storage Technical Work Group, and others.

Too many to be effective, too many groups serving their own purposes, and we still cannot easily write cloud applications that find the lower levels of cloud X as a Service/XaaS proprietary.

What is on your 2010 wish list?

Happy Cloud New Year!

A Swift Kick to the IPv6 Backside

On November 12, 2009, in Internet and Telecom, by Administrator

The institutional horror stories continue, the old Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4) address space is nearly gone, and if we do not transition to IPv6 with its nearly unlimited address space the Internet will grind to a halt.

Call to Action for IPv6A recent survey in Europe by the European Commission concludes that even in technology-progressive European countries “few companies are prepared for the switch from the current naming protocol, IPv4, to the new regime (protocol), IPv6.” ARIN (the US-based Internet Registry) agrees, reminding us that “with less than 15% of IPv4 address space remaining, ARIN is now compelled to advise the Internet community that migration to IPv6 is necessary for any applications that require ongoing availability of contiguous IP number resources.”

OK, so what the heck? Why aren’t we listening to those who understand the sense of urgency to migrate to IPv6, and get moving towards establishing a solid migration plan? Are the vendors ignoring the problem, reticent in providing IPv6 support in either application software or hardware, and preventing us from adopting IPv6? Are we just comfortable in our use of IPv4, network address translation/NAT, and are information technology professionals simply afraid to make a stand with management to start making the move?

Most mainstream software providers appear to be making the effort to go to IPv6. Microsoft has IPv6 as an inherent part of Windows and new Windows applications, Apple – ditto. Google engineers Lorenzo Colitti and Erik Kline recently received the Itojun Award from the Internet Society for “contributions to the development and deployment of IPv6.”

All major switching, routing, and server hardware companies are producing operating systems which include IPv6 compliance. Even cloud computing vendors such as 3tera are providing native IPv6 support within their platform and infrastructure as a service support.

What I Want from IPv6

I want everything from IPv6. Everything that has an electronic, communications, mobility, or interface should be addressable. I love the idea the California Highway Patrol can work with a company such as On Star to shut down a stolen car on the freeway before the driver kills himself or an innocent motorist. I love the idea I can work with an electrical utility to provide smart GRID technology to my entire home electrical system and not only reduce my bill, but also lower my carbon footprint. I love the idea I can control nearly anything I own or manage through a smart phone handset.

The IPv6 address space is large enough that we will have more than sufficient means to address everything we want – while smart people start working on IPv10 or whatever is needed for a couple generations down the road. So they can extend IPv10 to the rest of the galaxy.

Of course, unless we move forward and accept the temporary pain of moving to IPv6, none of this is likely to happen outside of some private implementations such as Verizon Wireless’ LTE network. Verizon is forcing the IPv6 issue with handset and device vendors by demanding their “…device shall support IPv6. The device may support IPv4. IPv6 and IPv4 support shall be per the 3GPP Release 8 Specifications (March 2009)” Kudos to Verizon for taking a stand on IPv6.

I further encourage moving my identity to an IPv6 address. Who needs a social security number, =social insurance number, or other identity when I can have my own personal IPv6 address? No identity fraud, as it can be linked to my DNA or other funky unique security code. My IP address, with my DNA and fingerprint, and I have the basic elements of a base for all other communications and identifications. Or I will become a borg.

But I would like to log into my home, and have heat turned on 5 minutes from arrival, the oven warming, favorite TV dinner selected for cooking, and even my 2 liter bottle of diet soda positioned for easy removal. My television set was remotely programmed, and the MP3 player auto-filled with music and other stuff from its docking station to give me something to listen to during my evening run along the beach or Wildwood Canyon.

Every device for my personal life that has a pulse can have an IPv6 address, controllable by me for whatever reason I choose. No IPv6 address for my jog though, as I want to de-couple some things important to life.

Who Cares About IPv6?

Martin Levy, from Hurricane Electric (a global Internet service and network provider based in Fremont, California), is a tireless evangelist for IPv6. A member of nearly every IPv6 working group (real working groups, not social working groups!), Martin travels the globe teaching, chiding, and inspiring networks to make the move. Martin recently recorded an interview with the European Internet Registry/RIPE where he explains His position on IPv6, his company’s approach to IPv6, and reminding the Internet community of the risks of not making the move to IPv6.

Martin strongly advises ” If you’re getting connectivity in a data center as a transit over an international connection, as a cross connect inside a telecom hotel, if you are an enterprise, IPv6 (deployment) should just be a tick mark…”

Martin travels the world in his quest to inform, and encourage those who do accept their responsibilities and urgencies embracing IPv6, such as at a recent conference in Slovenia, where Martin congratulated the Internet networking and content community by stating “Slovenia’s IPv6 initiative has been very successful and is becoming a blue-print for IPv6 initiatives in other countries worldwide.”

Internode, a large Internet network provider in Australia, has joined the movement towards IPv6. Partially because it is the right thing to do, partially because it is nearly impossible to get additional IPv4 address space from the Asian Internet registry, APNIC (Asia-Pacific Network Information Center).

“Our objective is to ensure that Internode has the most experience of any Australian broadband provider with the operation and support of native IPv6,” Internode managing director Simon Hackett said in a statement. “By the time IPv6 becomes a necessary part of connecting new users to the Internet, Internode will offer the very best ‘production’ IPv6 service available in Australia. At that point, for all customers, IPv6 will ‘just work’.” (Network World, 6 Nov 09)

Our Call to Action

Every blog entry is supposed to include a pithy call to action. In this case the call to action is real. We need to adopt IPv6. Excuses will not bring our global Internet-connected and Internet-enabled world together, and will not enable our next generation of network users to fully execute on the promise of exploiting life in the “matrix.”

IT Managers – you need to get off your backsides, and learn, learn, learn, everything you can about Ipv6. It is mission-critical. Then you need to brief your management – the CFOs, CTOs, CEOs, CXOs, and let them know the urgency of re-stacking your organization to accommodate and drive Ipv6.

Networks – If you are an Internet network provider, and you do not support Ipv6, please get out of the business. With all due respect, you are the problem.

Content providers, application service providers, SaaS providers, equipment vendors, and everybody else hanging an Internet shingle on your door. Ditto – if you are not building IPv6 support into your product, you are the problem. Make it easy for the IT managers, individuals, and future generations by taking Verizon’s approach. “If you do not include IPv6 support in your product, we will not use it.”

What is your IPv6 message?

John Savageau, Long Beach

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The US Government Re-Engages with IPv6

On June 1, 2009, in Internet and Telecom, by Administrator

On May 20th the Office of the US President released a new planning guide for US Government agency adoption of the Internet Protocol, version 6 (IPv6). As the world’s largest IT user, once the US Government finally starts moving ahead on a project, the rest of the world will finally need to take some serious notice.

IPv4 addresses are the machine language which tells Internet-connected applications how to find each other throughout the global network of networks. Humans are familiar with names such as www.yahoo.com, however Internet applications and routing devices would see the same thing as 209.131.36.158.

The problem is that Internet Protocol, version 4 (IPv4) address space is nearly exhausted, with less than 15% of available address space remaining (of 4,294,967,296 total available IPv4 addresses). Some experts, such as Paul Wilson (Dir Asia-Pacific Network Information Center) believe IPv4 addresses will start to dry up as soon as soon as June 2011.

The need to adopt IPv6 is becoming acute. In North America Internet address space is managed by the American Registry for Internet Numbering (ARIN). In May 2007 ARIN published a resolution which included the dire warning:

“WHEREAS, ongoing community access to Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) numbering resources cannot be assured indefinitely; and,

BE IT RESOLVED, that this Board of Trustees hereby advises the Internet community that migration to IPv6 numbering resources is necessary for any applications which require ongoing availability from ARIN of contiguous IP numbering resources; and,

BE IT ORDERED, that this Board of Trustees hereby directs ARIN staff to take any and all measures necessary to assure veracity of applications to ARIN for IPv4 numbering resources (American Registry for Internet Numbering)”

Until now the US Government, although they have touted the need to adopt IPv6, has lagged the commercial community in actual deployment of IPv6 within government networks and applications. This follows the Office of Management and Budget’s directive (M-05-22) to all government agencies to “prove IPv6 capability through core network infrastructure testing by June 30, 2008.”

The US Government also recognizes lagging IPv6 deployment puts us behind other government initiatives in China (China Next Generation Internet/CNGI) and the European Commission’s i2010 project, which is driving all European countries to implement IPv6 into networks and applications by the end of 2010.

The benefits of IPv6 are fairly well known and documented, including features such as:

  • Greatly increased address space (340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 total IPv6 addresses available, or 2128)
  • Better security
  • Mobility
  • And lots of other great features including interoperability and integration into nearly any device that can be connected to a network

 If the US Government is serious about pushing through their IPv6 initiative, many people will benefit, including consultants, equipment vendors, and software engineers, as most of the government IT architecture will need to be rebuilt. This is a good thing, as the rebuild will no doubt drive further innovation within the American IT community, and this will find its way into both the academic and commercial world, as the world’s largest IT user forces the community to re-engineer.

 John Savageau, Long Beach

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This article originally appeared in the Jan 2009 Any2 Exchange Newsletter

 

For the past 30 years or so we have gone through an accelerated learning process in globalization.  While the under 25 crowd has lived in a world of extreme technology diffusion, many of us still recall the days when having near real time news was an exception, and provided at a great cost in both human and financial resources.

 

Who can forget the international awakening when real time information came out of UNIX Talk sessions during the Russian Coup attempt in 1991 – when the world realized the veil of national secrecy and suppression of events had been ripped open forever.  The Internet has played a role in international transparency which has changed the concept of globalization and brought people together on a human scale that could not have been comprehended just a couple decades ago.  It is safe to assume we have successfully passed the Internet concept test. 

 

The basic tools we’ve used over the past 40 years have proven global one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many communications via packets works. Now we can move on to the next phase of global communications development, with a new suite of tools that will allow even more powerful ways of bringing the world to your laptop.

 

This month we have two feature articles in the Any2 newsletter.  One by Martin Levy on the topic of IPv6, and the other by Justin Giardina on storage replication and virtualization.  In the next edition we will draw our attention to cloud computing and software as a service.

 

The Any2 Exchange fully supports deployment of IPv6 in the IXP, as well as support through the Any2Easy route servers.  The actual amount of IPv6 traffic is still relatively low, however the number of routes available through Any2 is showing steady growth.  We allocate both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses to all new Any2 Exchange members, and will assign new IPv6 addresses on request to any other existing member who does not currently have an allocation. 

 

It is important for us to aggressively promote IPv6.  ARIN recently made the following statement:

 

“With only 15% of IPv4 address space remaining, ARIN is now compelled to advise the Internet community that migration to IPv6 is necessary for any applications that require ongoing availability of contiguous IP number resources.” (www.arin.net)

 

With an accompanying resolution:

 

BE IT RESOLVED, that this Board of Trustees hereby advises the Internet community that migration to IPv6 numbering resources is necessary for any applications which require ongoing availability from ARIN of contiguous IP numbering resources.”

 

 

 

 

Those are pretty serious warnings to the Internet community that it is time to re-tool for the next generation. What is that generation?  Lots of visionaries out there who are far more creative than I, offering a landscape of virtualization and convergence of nearly every aspect of life.

 

In the scope of our activities we are seeing customer and tenant movement in the direction of virtualization, through both storage and software as a service via cloud compute provisioning.  While getting a lot of attention in the tech media as a concept, the actual deployment of these services is going ahead in a near stealth mode.  We eagerly look forward to the marriage of Brocade and Foundry, and the offspring that may further bring storage and cloud compute capacity into the switching and routing fabrics.

 

The ability to route and switch with direct addressing, rather than NAT or private addressing is going to be a requirement in the virtual compute world to help eliminate both physical and software points of failure, as well as eliminate any latency byproduct of address translation.

 

So, we have our work cut out for us.  CRG West and the Any2 Exchange see our role in this new world as the developers of infrastructure needed to support the applications and services being developed by networks, cloud companies, SaaS companies, CDNs, and the carriers.

 

At the end of the day we still need to provide solid electrical and cooling systems support, access to fiber and interconnections (including the Any2 Exchange), and a neutral place for the community to meet.

 

With the economy in turmoil, limited funding available for both capital and operational expenses, and the need to rapidly move ahead, we will strive to do our part in providing the infrastructure and community center to reduce both CAPEX and OPEX, as well as develop the facility infrastructure needed to fulfill the visions of those who lead.

 

 

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