Eat Your Own Dogfood

Yesterday I attended a couple of informative panel sessions here at NANOG41 on IPv6 Technical Issues and IPv6 Deployment Case Studies. A theme repeated by several panelists was that vendors and service providers promoting IPv6 need to eat their own dogfood – that is, they need to back up what they’re selling to their customers by implementing it on their own internal networks.

Ron Broersma of the Defense Research and Engineering Network (DREN) brought this point home particularly well. Having attended a number of IPv6 events and listening to one speaker after another sing the praises of IPv6 and how all the world's problems could be solved if only people would see the light and deploy IPv6, Ron began taking note of the gold and silver sponsors of the events. He then approached the representatives of these sponsors and asked the simple question, “Is your corporate network running IPv6?”

Precious few of them are.

Unless this is the first time you’ve read my blog you certainly know that I’m an IPv6 advocate; I don’t, however, adhere to the pie-in-the-sky pitches of many IPv6 evangelists that the protocol will usher in some brave new world filled with puppy dogs and sunflowers. The only compelling reason for adopting IPv6 is the address space, facilitating the continued growth of IP networks without massively piling up behind NATs.

Nevertheless I spent many years representing a particular vendor at IPv6 events and promoting IPv6 in countless media interviews and customer meetings. Periodically I’d approach the corporate IT folks and suggest that if we are positioning ourselves as IPv6 experts we should be running it on our corporate network.

“Oh no no no,” was the inevitable reply, “there are still too many issues to be resolved for us to run it internally.”

Okay, let's start by enabling it just on the backbone, where there are few if any issues, and deploy it more widely as enterprise solutions become available.

“Oh no no no, its too complex! It’s too risky! We don’t have the time or money!”

I’m not picking on my former employer; this is a common position among many, many vendors selling IPv6 to their customers.

So my suggestion to vendors everywhere is that your IPv6 sales efforts can be greatly enhanced if you can speak to your customers about your own experiences deploying your own IPv6 products in your own corporate network.

It’s time to start eating your own dogfood.

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