Within the coming decade, Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) will be key to enabling 50 billion connections among people, processes, data, and things in the Internet of Everything (IoE). But how we get there from here is not a simple matter.
I’m very pleased to invite Mark Townsley, Cisco Fellow and recognized industry expert on IP, to discuss this important transition in the second of our three-part blog series on IPv6. The first blog in Mark’s series was “Demystifying IPv6”.
Three years ago, I organized a conference in Paris where I thought it would be fascinating to bring together the original designers of IPv6 alongside the engineers who were finally deploying it at scale more than a decade later. During this discussion, Steve Deering, one of the “fathers” of IPv6 in the 1990s, was asked one of the most common questions about IPv6: Why wasn’t it designed for backward compatibility with IPv4? After all, wouldn’t it be easier to make the transition if the two versions could transparently coexist? Steve answered that the problem is not that IPv6 wasn’t designed to be backward-compatible—the real problem is that IPv4 wasn’t designed to be forward-compatible.
Steve was making the point that IPv4 was designed with a fixed address space. Given the number of computers connected to the Arpanet throughout the 1970s, this fixed-length address field seemed to be sufficient—at least for that version of IP. IP had been replaced before, and it seemed perfectly reasonable at the time that it might be replaced again. Read More »
At the recent Cisco Live 2013 event in Orlando, I talked about the business value of converging operations technology (OT)—used for industrial automation systems—with IT business networks, in order to create more secure, end-to-end, standard communications and control. Regarding business value of IT/OT convergence for machine builders/integrators and consequently their manufacturing customers, I referenced a case study involving Comau Group that Al Presher from DesignNews recently picked up in a blog entitled “Connectivity Enabling Smart Manufacturing.”
Comau is a leading supplier and partner for most global automakers, integrating welding and assembly lines that coordinate dozens of robots and ancillary automation across multiple stations.
The order-to-engineering sign-off cycle requires months and the consequent build and commissioning to full production adds many more months for a new or refreshed manufacturing line.
Multiple fieldbus protocols at the device level complicate both design and implementation, requiring more integration services—time and money—to make the system work.
By designing a converged IT/OT “Connected Machine” solution that utilizes IP-standards-based, off-the-shelf modularity with a network architecture validated for both business and controls topologies, Comau has been able to reduce engineering cycles and cut integration time by more than two-thirds. Quoting an Engineering Manager from the company, “Installation, commissioning and debugging for 10 stations with 12-15 robots takes a couple days, rather than 1-2 weeks.” Read More »
Much has been written about the vast number and variety of things that will soon be connected to the Internet—from milk cartons and alarm clocks to sensors and trains. Already in 2008, that number exceeded the number of people on earth. By 2020, when the next incarnation of the Internet—aka the Internet of Things—is in full swing, the number is expected to reach 50 billion. And it’s not just things that will add value and relevance to networked connections, but also people, data and processes.
Think about it. Through their interactions with the Web, social networks and devices—especially mobile devices—people have a massive multiplier effect on the amount of IP traffic traversing the network. In 2012 alone, new, more powerful smartphone technologies combined with growth in both mobile bandwidth and apps produced annual mobile data traffic nearly 12 times greater than the total Internet traffic in 2000 (Cisco Mobile VNI 2013).
Add to that a coming tsunami of constantly streaming data as sensors in just about everything become the norm—not just wearable sensors attached to our bodies, clothes and shoes, but also sensors, meters and actuators in our cars, machinery and infrastructure. And let’s not forget the critical role that processes will play in managing and automating this explosive growth in connections as well as in the collection, analysis and communication of data. People, data, processes and things. Together, they will make up the next phase of the Internet of Things—the Internet of Everything.
Data in Motion vs. Data at Rest
Zooming in on data in the age of the Internet of Everything, there’s another critical distinction that needs to be made. You see, not all data is created equal. Most of the new data being generated today is real-time data that fits into a broad category called Data in Motion. This refers to the constant stream of sensor-generated data that defies traditional processes for capture, storage and analysis, and requires a fundamentally different approach.
Let’s back up a minute. Historically, in order to find gems of actionable insight, enterprises have tended to focus their analytics or business intelligence applications on data captured and stored using traditional relational data warehouses or “enterprise historian” technologies.
However, the limits of this approach have been tested by the increase in volume of this so-called Data at Rest. The challenges inherent in collecting, searching, sharing, analyzing and visualizing insights from these ever-expanding data sets have led to the development of massively parallel computing software running on tens, hundreds, or even thousands of servers. As innovative and adaptive as these Big Data technologies are, they still rely on historical data to find the proverbial needle in the haystack.
This rising tide of Data in Motion is not going to slow down. In fact, as the Internet of Everything gathers momentum, the vast number of connections will trigger a zettaflood of data, at an even more accelerated pace. While this new Data in Motion has huge potential, it also has a very limited shelf life. As such, its primary value lies in its being captured soon after it is created—in many cases, immediately after it is created.
For instance, real-time traffic information from cameras, sensors and connected cars allows drivers to avoid traffic jams and use suggested alternate routes, potentially reducing hours of unproductive time spent behind the wheel. Similarly, manufacturers can connect their stock inventory with their suppliers’ production systems so that potential delays can be identified as early as possible and corrective actions taken on their respective shop floors to better prioritize people’s activities. In each of these cases, it’s easy to see the added value of connecting not just things, but also people, data and processes.
The real challenge for data-driven organizations is how to manage and extract value from this constant stream of information, and turn it to competitive advantage. Data in Motion represents a new type of data whose value can not always be extracted through traditional analytics. In a next post, we will look at examples of Data in Motion and how to extract value from it.
On this day one year ago I was sitting in a hotel room in London, hanging out online with Vint Cerf and engineers from Google and Comcast, discussing how tech leaders around the world had come together in unprecedented fashion to declare it time to turn on IPv6, together, all over the world. It was an ambitious plan. Only one year earlier the world had tested IPv6 on a global scale for the very first time. Now, the IP Industry was boldly declaring victory. No more tests, no more trials. IPv6 had left the laboratory — for good. It was now, or never.
Months before, at the towering headquarters of Comcast in a room high above downtown Philadelphia, the Internet Society organized one of the planning sessions for the World IPv6 Launch. With a sparkling backdrop of the earth’s horizon in the distance, representatives from the founding World IPv6 Launch participants (Akamai, AT&T, Cisco, Comcast, D-Link, Facebook, Free Telecom, Google, Internode, KDDI, Limelight, Bing, Time Warner Cable, XS4ALL and Yahoo!) discussed what it meant to “Launch” IPv6. There was a white board, with a hand drawn chart as our goal. We talked, argued, compromised, and ultimately came to consensus on how we could “move the needle”, and whether it was too bold a proposition to even try. We settled on 1% as an individual ISP goal, knowing that this value as measured from a content provider would correspond to more than a simple trial. Many ISPs reached, and exceeded, that by June 2012. A few months later, the world reached that goal.
I’m thrilled to see that, even a year later, end-to-end IPv6 adoption shows no measurable sign of stopping. IPv6 deployment has been doubling every 9 months since World IPv6 Day. Large scale DSL, Fiber, Cable, and Wireless deployments have joined Enterprises and Content providers across the world, stitching together a new Internet infrastructure. Fit Google’s global IPv6 deployment data to a logistic curve of technology adoption, and the 50% tipping point where IPv6 takes over IPv4 is only 5 years away.
IPv6 is not only important to the Internet of today, it is critical to the Internet of Everything to come. Working on IPv6 over the past several years has been exciting and rewarding in many ways. I have made a lot of good friends along the way, and am witnessing the birth of a New Internet Protocol first hand.
Shortly before we released this year’s Cisco VNI Forecast 2012-2017* on May 29th, I had a chance to contemplate the implications behind all the report’s data. The Forecast makes it clear that IP traffic will continue to grow “in leaps and bounds” through 2017, but there is so much more information lying hidden within the report.
* an annual projection of global Internet Protocol (IP) traffic, now in its seventh year,
used by companies, analysts, media, academia, and governments wordlwide.
For a quick overview of this year’s findings, read Thomas Barnett’s VNI blog post.
Here are six significant conclusions that came about in my review of VNI’s findings and what they mean for the future functioning of the Internet: Read More »