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Juniper defends poky pace on IPv6-enabling its Web site

Target of 2012 puts router maker two years behind arch rival Cisco

By , Network World
November 16, 2010 11:18 AM ET

Network World - It's surprising that Juniper will admit to being two years behind arch-rival Cisco at anything, let alone a development related to IPv6, the next-generation Internet Protocol.

Cisco eats its own IPv6 dogfood

After all, Juniper was boasting about enabling IPv6 across all of its platforms and interfaces back in 2002. Juniper was at the forefront of shipping IPv6-ready firewall and VPN gear in 2004. And Juniper was the first to have its routers certified as IPv6 capable by the U.S. Defense Department in 2007.

But when it comes to IPv6-enabling the content on its Web site -- www.juniper.net -- the network equipment vendor concedes that it will lag Cisco's Web site by as much as two years.

IPv6 is the long-anticipated upgrade to the Internet's main communications protocol, which is known as IPv4.

In August, Cisco began testing IPv6 on a dedicated Web site: www.ipv6.cisco.com. Cisco said it is running IPv6 in alpha mode, and that it is working towards supporting IPv6 addresses on its main Web site, which is www.cisco.com.

Juniper says it won't create a separate Web site for end users with IPv6 addresses, which is a shortcut to providing IPv6 content. Besides Cisco, other sites that have taken this approach include Facebook, Netflix and Comcast.

"We could have our Web site accessible by IPv6 the same way that Cisco and others are doing it. We could have an intermediary gateway that receives IPv6 queries and translates them to IPv4. That's an extremely fast way to get it done, but it's also not in the spirit of trying to enable IPv6 on the Web," says Dave Ward, Juniper Fellow and the CTO of Juniper's Infrastructure Products Group. 

Instead, Juniper plans to support IPv6 on its main Web site in a way that will be transparent to users with IPv6 addresses.

"We are working very hard to attempt to not expose the introduction of IPv6 to every end user. We're tying to make it as seamless as possible," Ward says.

Juniper is committed to native IPv6 support on its main Web site rather than creating an IPv6-only Web site. Juniper says it is launching internal IPv6 micro Web sites where it will test IPv6 and IPv4 content and routing transition strategies as well as to pilot its IPv6 Web site content.

Juniper's approach to IPv6-enabling its Web site will take time. The company says it won't commit to serving up IPv6 Web content until September 2012, which is the same time frame that the U.S. federal government plans to support IPv6 for its Web sites.

"It certainly could happen before [September 2012]," Ward says, adding that IPv6-enabling the company's Web site is just "one way to measure" Juniper's progress and competitiveness in the area of IPv6.

IPv6 is the biggest upgrade in the 40-year history of the Internet. Forward-looking carriers and enterprises are deploying IPv6 because the Internet is running out of IP addresses using the current standard, known as IPv4.

IPv4 uses 32-bit addresses and can support 4.3 billion devices connected directly to the Internet. IPv6, on the other hand, uses 128-bit addresses and supports a virtually unlimited number of devices -- 2 to the 128th power.

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