June 6 has been scheduled for the world launch of IPv6, the internet protocol addressing system that supersedes IPv4. Last year, IPv6 was run for just one day; this time it stays on, supported by all the major players, such as Cisco, Facebook and Google.
The last block of the 4.3 billion IPv4 addresses was assigned in February 2011. There’s no danger of the 128-bit IPv6 addresses running out.
To date, IPv6 represents just one percent of global network traffic. New Zealand is doing quite well in terms of infrastructure readiness, according to independent internet consultant Donald Clark. Clark has been contracted by the New Zealand IPv6 Taskforce, an industry-funded body formed in 2009, to provide a set of metrics.
“The hardware side is a no-brainer, and mostly implemented, and the operating systems are compliant,” he says.
“But with CPE (customer premises equipment), a lot of the current boxes don’t do IPv6. There’s a massive installed base of old boxes.
“However, around half of the home routers that you can buy from Dick Smith and the like support IPv6,” says Clark.
Firewalls are one of the big issues, he says. Some have many problems and are often not fully tested.
A good example is at Massey University where the firewall was upgraded but lost its multi-threading capability.
He says that further up the stack, with application servers, there is a need to make sure there is genuine feature parity. “The biggest barrier in the market is that no one pays a premium for IPv6. It’s not a question of whether you move to it; it’s a requirement. If you don’t, over time, you will run the risk of not being able to talk to parts of the internet.”
Clark says resellers have a duty of care as a good supplier to make sure that the people they sell to are aware of the need to be compliant. “It’s a matter of good practice,” he adds.
He says security is an area of opportunity for resellers, from devices through to services. “IPv6 opens up a whole new attack surface. It’s a new protocol but an immature one, and there are technical differences compared to IPv4.
“Not all of it will translate, so you’ll have to do some new stuff,” he says.
More than 150 network professionals attended a conference this month run by the taskforce.