Small Business Server 2008: Turning 'OFF' IPv6 could be dangerous

or "How keep your sanity while trying to adjust to IPV6"

So yesterday I went with a good friend of mine to the city to help him with an issue with Windows Small Business Server (SBS) 2008. Some readers out there may have already experienced the Windows SBS 2008 IPv6 dilemma and you know what I am talking about. For those of you who have not let me give a little background. Let’s say you have installed Windows SBS 2008 and decide that you want to disable IPv6. SBS 2008 has an interesting result waiting for you, a restart process that will take 30, 60, 90 or even 180 minutes to come back online. Okay, your thinking so just reactivate IPv6 (that’s what my buddy did, but it gets even more interesting). The system after reactivating IPv6 went into a frenzy of shutting down services for Exchange Server, The backup software, Directory Services and so on. Basically the server became cripple every 5-7 days and would require a restart…Oh yes did I forget to mention that the delay on the restarting was still there, even after reactivating IPv6. There are quite a few articles and forums that talk about disabling the need for IPv6 in SBS 2008, we tried them all and they all failed! Many of us out there especially those in the Small to Mid-sized businesses have not adopted IPv6 on our network. So many are sticking with the old IPv4 format of dotted decimal and I don’t blame many of you. I wrote about IPv6 for my Windows Server 2008:How-To book (enter to win one of 15 copies courtesy of Network World) recently and I am probably still just as confused as the admin that is looking at it for the first time. I love the idea that the 128bit address space means we will never run out of IP addresses (even if every single human being on the earth has 100 PC’s and laptops in their home). However, I wonder if we couldn’t just accomplish the same with something with the dotted decimal format. Perhaps more digits in each octet or more octets per address, It seems in an age where we are trying to make the Server operating systems, routers, desktop OS and everything else ‘more user friendly’ IPv6 becomes more machine like, but I digress. To resolve this issue we needed to provide a static IPv6 Site-local address (these are the equivalent to the private IP ranges in IPv4). Of course because we are working with hexadecimal and not dotted decimal after the initial FEC –FEF parameter the rest is pretty much guess work. We got it working (restart was down to 8- 9 minutes)and now we sit and wait to see if the server will shut down services again (but as of yesterday there were no errors in the event log to indicate it should). Lesson learned here: Do not over complicate a client’s environment… my friend inherited this client after they tossed the last consulting firm. The client had no need for SBS 2008; they are using POP mail so Exchange Server was a waste for them. But now the backup software, antivirus and other package on the server were purchased for SBS, and so there is no turning back. Do not under buy on the hardware side… This server was purchased by the last consultant as well; they purchased a dual core 1.6GHZ server with 4GB of RAM dual SAS drive that provide a whopping 231GB’s of storage. The golden rule of hardware purchases is to project growth three years out. In this economy maybe even 4-5 years out. This 13 person firm will need to add disk space for sure in the future and in the immediate future needs to purchase more RAM. Saving a client $1000 initially and then costing them $3000 6months down the road for your poor decisions is just not smart business. Which is why the old firm is out of there and my friend is left to clean up the mess. And finally, IPv6 is going to be a painful experience for many of us for awhile. I would suggest building a virtual test environment and working out the kinks now…even if you don’t plan on migrating any time soon.

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