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Who's who in IPv6: the companies and people leading the way

The whole world has become interested in the next-generation Internet protocol gun to watch IPv6 in earnest. Here's one expert's list of the top thought leaders shaping IPv6 adoption.

By Ed Horley, Network World
October 06, 2011 10:32 AM ET

Network World - IPv6 is on the minds of every network professional these days, and rightly so. While some vendors and service providers are woefully behind, others are leading the charge. We asked well-known IPv6 expert Ed Horley to name these leaders. Horley is co-chairman of the California IPv6 Task Force, is involved in the North American IPv6 Task Force and earns his living as principal solutions architect at Groupware Technology in Campbell, Calif. He lists the thought leaders for IPv6 among network equipment providers and service providers including CPE devices, routers/switches, load balancers, address management, content delivery networks and more. Got an idea for an article? Contact Network World Community Editor Julie Bort, jbort@nww.com.

TRAINING: Network World's Critical Path to IPv6 event is coming Dec. 13 in New York. E-mail for details. 

One of the questions people most commonly ask me is, "What companies are ahead in IPv6?" I'll go one better and offer my personal list of the companies -- and people -- I believe are leading the way for IPv6 adoption in both the network infrastructure and service provider markets.

Network infrastructure

One of the major complaints about customer premises equipment (CPE) is how long it has taken most manufactures to get devices with even limited IPv6 support on the market. CPEs need to support IPv6 so that residential service providers can deploy it. For that reason, D-Link earns kudos for bringing devices out earlier than most and with a wide variety of IPv6 transition technology support. While it's true that Linksys and Netgear now have IPv6 support (though somewhat limited in features), you need to pay attention to firmware and model numbers of all the brands. Another pat on the back goes to a smaller but strong player, gogo6, which makes an adapter that can be used by ISP clients with no modification to their IPv4 subscriber network. To find more information about the broadband CPE devices check out the IPv6 wiki page maintained by Frank Bulk.  

BACKGROUND: IPv6 on home routers and DSL/cable modems: FAIL

Fortunately for most enterprises and small businesses, the routing and switching market isn't as far behind as the CPE, so the leaders of IPv6 in these areas are the brands you probably already use today. Current products from Cisco, Juniper, Brocade (with its Foundry purchase) and now Dell (with its Force10 purchase) along with HP (with its 3COM purchase) all support IPv6 in varying levels, though some of these companies' older products do IPv6 better than others. Some older platforms don't support IPv6 at all, and even if they do there is a high likelihood these platforms are not optimized to run IPv6. One of the important factors to consider is how much memory is in the devices (remember that an IPv6 address is four times as big as an IPv4 address) and if the hardware ASIC is capable of doing anything with IPv6. If it's not, then it falls back to the central CPU to do all the IPv6 work and there are many cases where that is not ideal. 

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