Microsoft both leads and lags in IPv6 support

The co-authors of Global IPv6 Strategies were the guests for a live Network World chat last week where they

discussed all things IPv6, including Microsoft's role in moving adoption along. The group consisted of Fred Wettling (pictured, top), who manages architecture and strategic planning for Bechtel and is a member of the IEEE North American IPv6 Task Force, the IPv6 Forum, and is executive director of the IPv6 Business Council; Patrick Grossetete (pictured, middle), who is technical director of product management at ArchRock, makers of IP-based wireless sensor network technology; and Ciprian Popoviciu (pictured,bottom) PhD, CCIE No. 4499, who is a technical leader at Cisco. They
discussed the business case for IPv6, killer apps, security tools and the role of vendors like Microsoft and Cisco. Here is a snippet from the transcript regarding Microsoft. (Click here for the full transcript.)

Q: What are your thoughts about Microsoft's implementation of IPv6 and in what ways will it be important?

Chip_Popoviciu: With its large customer base, Microsoft has a significant impact on technology adoption, especially when it comes to a fundamental technology such as IPv6. Windows Vista will drive and sustain IPv6 adoption by the consumers, while Windows Server 2008 will drive adoption in enterprises. Both of these markets will in turn influence the IPv6 adoption plans of service providers. Microsoft’s implementation of IPv6 facilitates deployment. Through new, IPv6-only applications, it can also provide new drivers for IPv6 adoption.

Patrick_Grossetete: If you look at its operating systems' market penetration, you could see that Microsoft has “IPv6-enabled” more than 85% of the market. IPv6 is “default” on 18% of the market through Vista, another 69% needs to get it configured. Those are important numbers when tracking the IPv6 market penetration.

Q: We have enabled IPv6 for all of the clients on our networks and are working on some issues with load balancers etc., for our servers. I see signs that ISPs are moving toward enabling IPv6 but other than Google, I don't see many destination sites enabling IPv6. Do you see more destination sites preparing for IPv6 than I have seen? Is there any way to get the sites like Yahoo, etc., to expedite enabling IPv6?

Chip_Popoviciu: Availability of Internet content over IPv6 is indeed a challenge and it makes offering IPv6 based IA services difficult to justify. That does not mean however that deployments are gated by the availability of Internet content. There are walled-in garden deployments which offer specific IPv6 services that can be managed within that domain. Migration of content to IPv6 will depend a lot on demand and that is a way to stimulate content providers to put content on IPv6. Also, there is work done in IETF to provide mechanisms that will encourage providers to put content directly on IPv6 but make it available to IPv4 users as well. Work in progress to be sure.

Fred_Wettling: Bechtel and others have run into a few bumps with product maturity and the versions in operation. One is the lack of IPv6 support in Microsoft ISA Server 2006. We have found work-arounds for most of the issues. But, just to note, IPv6.olympics.cn is an example of a high-profile site.

Q: What is the scope of IPv6 applications that we will eventually find in the enterprise?

Fred_Wettling: Versions of all major operating systems have been shipping as IPv6 capable for years. With only minor configuration changes, IPv6 is enabled on OSs like Windows XP and Server 2003. Today, all major operating systems are shipping with IPv6 enabled by default, including Apple (10,3), MAC OS X Leopard, BSD, HP-UX 22iv2, AIX 6, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Linux 2.6 Kernel and Solaris 2.10. On top of these platforms the vendors are at various stages of implementing IPv6 in their products. For example, SharePoint 2003 on an IPv6-enabled Windows Server 2003 platform supports IPv6 end-to-end communications, with a few limitations. Then again, Microsoft Exchange 2003 and ISA Server do not even know IPv6 exists. Web servers and services are straightforward to enable on most platforms. Talk with your software suppliers and ask for the IPv6 road maps on products that are important to you. Your application developers should be using development and testing platforms that will ensure IP version-agnostic operations.

Patrick_Grossetete: To add to Fred's list, I would like to add that IPv6 is also available on other operating systems such as Windows Mobile 5 and 6, Symbian-embedded Linux and TinyOS. This allows new classes of devices – smartphones, PDAs, cameras, IP phones, sensors – to be part of the game. On Windows Server 2008, clustering (or whatever they've named that feature) can be done at Layer 3 by running IPv6. Windows Vista Peer-to-Peer framework runs over IPv6 (). Those are just some examples.

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