Friday, November 6, 2009

The time for IPv6 is now!

SkyHi @ Friday, November 06, 2009
As many of you know, we are running out of IPv4 addresses, 800 days is what is left for IANA's global pool of available IPv4 addresses. It's not the question if we will going to run out, it's more a matter of when is it going to happen in 2010 or 2011? This is not to far away from now, so it is time to think about the consequences? At a first glance it doesn't seem to impact us, BC universities or BCNET much. We have more than enough IPv4 addresses left, so what's the problem here?
Obviously there's an immediate problem for new Internet users like startup companies who need address space for their products. And let's not forget about developing countries that are in high demand of IP addresses. Also think about future developments such as every cell phone with an IP address, that would greatly increase the demand for IP addresses. So yes there's a real problem for those cases, the only 'real' solution for them is to use IPv6, basically because they have no other choice.

Now just think one step further. What does that mean if the new youtube can't get IPv4 addresses? yes it will probably use IPv6 addresses. And guess what, our students of course want to be able to reach this "new youtube", but they can't because we (universities in BC) only provide IPv4 access because we thought we didn't have a problem with IPv4 addresses. And all of a sudden we do need IPv6 access! Not because we have a shortage of addresses, but because other parts of the world do have a shortage and we want to be able to communicate with all hosts on the Internet. Imagine a future student for example in china or japan wants to visit the UBC website for information about our programs. But guess what, they can't reach our IPv4 website, because they only have IPv6 access from home or new Iphone. Just a few examples of the need for IPv6 support also in parts of the Internet where we have enough addresses for future use.

What would you answer your CTO if he/she asks you what your IPv6 plans are? "Eeh plan??, I thought that was something for researchers only?" No, IPv6 is no longer a research project and we shouldn't look at it like that. We don't start upgrading our networks to 10gbs when the links are congested, we plan ahead, so that this doesn't happen. They same should be the case for IPv6. We shouldn't wait till the problem presents its self and forcing us to come up with a solution. It's exactly the same for IPv6, we should carefully plan this and gradually roll out IPv6 support and the time to do that is now.

Some of you might have heard translation mechanism. I wouldn't want to bet on IPv4 -IPv6 translation mechanisms (comparable to NAT) which are currently being standardized. If circumstances allow you you really want to go for native (dualstack) connectivity. BCNET is IPv6 ready and we can connect your universities today! Today is the day to start testing, experimenting so that next year you'll be ready to serve your costumers with IPv6 connectivity. Remember that IPv6 is not an extra fancy feature like multicast, it's going to be basic functionality soon, very soon!