IPv6 expert sees adoption growing . . . slowly

We recently interviewed Jim Bound, chair of the North American IPv6 Task Force and CTO of the IPv6 Forum, about the status of IPv6 deployment.

For a decade, network executives have been awaiting the arrival of IPv6, an upgrade to the current version of the Internet Protocol, IPv4. IPv6 promises a dramatically larger addressing scheme as well as enhanced security and easier administration. Senior Editor Carolyn Duffy Marsan recently interviewedJim Bound, chair of the North American IPv6 Task Force and CTO of the IPv6 Forum, about the status of IPv6 deployment. A Hewlett-Packard Fellow, Bound is a contributor to the IPv6 specifications and an early implementer of the technology.

Years ago, people talked about a future where all sorts of household appliances - toasters, coffee pots - would be hooked up to the Internet. This was part of the rationale for IPv6. What is the current thinking about Internet-enabled appliances?

Jim BoundThe IPv6 Forum is not seeing any new announcements regarding Internet appliances. The reason for that is we don't have an IPv6 infrastructure. Japan is the only country that has a native IPv6 production network. All the providers in Japan are on that network. In fact, the Internet backbone in Japan is IPv6-enabled. They're still all pilot projects in other countries. The hype of Internet appliances is going to become a reality. . . . That's going to take five to eight years.

What is the status of Moonv6? [A native IPv6 backbone jointly operated by the North American IPv6 Task Force, the University of New Hampshire's Interoperability Lab, the Department of Defense and the Internet2 university consortium.]

Moonv6 is going to be one of the saving graces for IPv6 in the U.S. We hope to have most U.S. providers onboard as Moonv6 peering sites very, very soon. We have [memorandums of understanding] with China BII Group who is working with China Next Generation Internet Project (CNGI), the 6NET and EUROSIX in Europe, Multiswitching Forum (MSF), and we're working with the Korean IPv6 project, and others to build MOUs.

Moonv6 is a backbone of agreed-upon peerings in the Internet. We have a site in Chicago with [Internet2's] Abilene, one at the University of New Hampshire and we'll have one in Palo Alto soon. The Defense Information Systems Agency Joint Interoperability Test Command is a participating Moonv6 site. These sites agree to route traffic over native IPv6. We will permit tunneling for a grace period, but we're moving to native IPv6.

Which U.S. service providers are on Moonv6 right now?

The ISPs we are speaking and working with regarding Moonv6 are NTT Verio,AT&T, Sprint, MCI, and Verizon, but we're putting requests out for all ISPs in North America. In addition, we are speaking with ISPs in Europe and Asia.

How long is it going to take for an IPv6 infrastructure to be commercially available in the U.S.?

It's going to take a couple of years. I think 2006 is going to be the big year. The vendors have done a wonderful job of shipping products. They've done a wonderful job of marketing and PR. But we've got two years worth of work. We still do not have the applications. How can GM or JC Penney or Boeing move to IPv6 when there are no applications for it? That would be insanity. We need applications like Oracle, PeopleSoft and SAP to be IPv6-compliant. We're talking to those folks now.

NTT Verio has been offering commercial IPv6 service for three years but the company admits it has few customers. Are there any new developments in terms of commercial IPv6 offerings from the ISPs?

No, there isn't. NTT is way ahead of the curve. NTT had a site up for the 6Bone [an IPv6 test network] back in 1998 or 1999. The IPv6 Forum is holding a meeting Nov. 16-17 in Washington, D.C. that is focused on ISPs. We're going to ask them about their plans for commercial offerings.

What's the latest thinking in the IPv6 technical community about the integration of RFID and IPv6?

RFID will never use IPv6 addresses. RFID is an identifier. It will be used to identify something - a box, an entity, a part. It has nothing to do with networking. It's about data warehousing. Now if you want to associate an IPv6 address with parts that are identified with RFID, then clearly having enough IPv6 addresses is important. IPv6 addresses could be used to make that which RFIDs identify available to a network. RFID is irrelevant.

Has the IPv6 Forum made any progress in attracting software developers to support IPv6?

IPv6 is in the thought processes at Oracle and SAP. It's on their radar screen. What I'm hearing is that 2006 will be the big year.

How big of a deal was it when ICANN announced this summer that native IPv6 would be supported in the DNS?

It was a big, big deal. Now if someone looks up an IPv6 address for an IPv6 device, they'll be able to find it on the DNS. It's another data point [showing] that IPv6 is happening. The fact that the DNS root servers are running IPv6 means this technology is pretty stable and that there are products out there. It's significant that [Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers] was comfortable with IPv6 and that the vendors who run the DNS were comfortable with IPv6.

What's the latest with the IETF's work on a specification to support multi-homing in IPv6? [Multi-homing involves using multiple ISPs and switching between them for the best connection.]

It's in process in the IETF. I believe that work is going to take some time. It's a very, very important problem to solve. But it doesn't prohibit IPv6 deployment today. If Verizon or General Motors wants to do multi-homing in IPv6, we can do it just like we would do it for IPv4. They would agree to share routes, and that's how you address multi-homing. It's no worse than it is for IPv4. The hope is that the IETF can build a standard for multi-homing in IPv6. Within one year, you'll see a solution emerging that has potential. Moonv6 will be spearheading the multi-homing solution for today and tomorrow. We will aggressively test any potential ways to solve that problem.

Is there any other significant technical work related to IPv6 that's still outstanding at the IETF?

No. The IPv6 operations group is pushing very aggressively to develop IPv6 transition scenarios. The IETF shipped the Mobile IPv6 specification about two months ago. With IPv6, I have no complaints with the IETF.

What news can we expect to see regarding IPv6 for the rest of the year?

You'll see more tests across the whole North American geography and tests between continents across Moonv6. Hopefully, you'll see some announcements regarding ISPs offering IPv6 service. Hopefully, you'll see announcements regarding Internet appliances at the Consumer Electronics Show. Developers will be running test suites on Mobile IPv6. These will all be newsworthy.

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