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Zigbee IP: Extending the Smart Grid to Consumers

Enabling commercial, industrial and residential customers to better monitor and manage their energy consumption is a key benefit of a Smart Grid.  As part of their grid modernization initiatives, utilities are providing information and incentives to end consumers. These include visibility to real-time energy consumption, as well as variable price and demand response signals that communicate with energy management devices and smart appliances.

This will drive more low power, often battery powered, wireless and wired energy sensors and actuators in the consumer premises.  To date, this space is populated with several PHY/MAC specific, non-standardized protocol stacks which do not interoperate.  To avoid multiple separate consumer networks a PHY/MAC agnostic solution is needed and this solution is best based upon open IP standards.

The ZigBee Alliance’s ZigBee IP (ZIP) standard is a first definition of an open standards based IPv6 stack for smart objects. The effort has made significant progress to bring IPv6 network protocols over 802.15.4 wireless mesh networks to reality.

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How Do We Help the Feds Transition to IPv6?

With Cisco’s participation in World IPv6 Launch less than a week away,  IPv6 is definitely top of mind.  Those of us who work in the federal space are also focused on the IPv6 transition deadline that is coming up on September 30th, 2012.  The  OMB Mandate issued in September of 2010 by Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra states that the federal government must “Upgrade public/external facing servers and services (e.g. web, email, DNS, ISP services, etc) to  operationally use native IPv6 by the end of FY 2012”.  According to a Network World article written by Carolyn Duff Marsan, a whopping  99% of Federal Agencies have not yet met the conditions of the mandate.

Why has it been such a challenge for the government to meet this IPv6 transition deadline?  And what needs to be done to help make it happen?

One of the problems is that there has been a lack of  IPv6 support  by government contractors, (including carriers ),   content delivery networks and  network equipment suppliers.  Network equipment must be  “IPv6 certified” to enable government customers to meet the deadline.

Cisco has been leading the way with IPv6 certifications, with a majority of products supporting IPv6 for well over a decade.  Our USGv6 product list is testament to the fact that we are committed to helping our government customers succeed, but it will take more than just IPv6 certified network equipment to help the government successfully make the transition.

The Veteran’s Administration is among the 1% of federal agencies that have successfully transitioned to IPv6.  How did they do it?   By linking the IPv6 transition as an imperative to the VA mission and future IT success.  Their methods and best practiced should be used as a reference for how to accomplish this task.

For those of you in the DC area, if you want to get a update on the outcome of World IPv6 Launch, and more information on how the Veterans Administration successfully transitioned to IPv6, please consider attending  the Digital Government Institute’s  Government IPv6 Day, where all these topics will be covered.

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IPv6 First Hop Security (FHS) concerns

There are a growing number of large-scale IPv6 deployments occurring within enterprise, university, and government networks. For these networks to succeed, it is important that the IPv6 deployments are secure and the quality of service (QoS) must rival the existing IPv4 infrastructure. An important security aspect to consider is the local links (Layer 2). Traditional Layer 2 security differs between IPv4 and IPv6 because instead of using ARP—like IPv4—IPv6 moves the traditional Layer 2 operations to Layer 3 using various ICMP messages

IPv6 introduces a new set of technology link operations paradigms that differ significantly from IPv4. The changes include more end nodes that are permitted on the link (up to 2^64) and increased neighbor cache size on end nodes and the default router, which creates more opportunities for denial of service (DoS) attacks. There are also additional threats to consider in IPv6 including threats with the protocols in use, a couple of which are listed below:

  • Neighbor Discovery Protocol (NDP) integrates all link operations that determine address assignment, router discovery, and associated tasks.
  • Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) can have a lesser role in address assignment compared to IPv4.

Finally, non-centralized address assignment in IPv6 can create challenges for controlling address misuse by malicious hosts.

For more information on FHS concerns. read the new IPv6 FHS whitepaper.

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IPv6 Hitting Closer to Home. Are You Ready?

Follow these 3 steps for preparing your network for the new Internet protocol

On June 6, currently being referred to as World IPv6 Day, several of the world’s largest ISPs and websites will permanently enable IPv6 —the next-generation Internet. With the explosive growth of Internet-enabled devices, the batch of IPv4 addresses that allows those devices to access the Internet have run out. The new Internet protocol, IPv6, provides a greater number of addresses to support more people, more companies, and more devices on the Internet. Consider this: By 2016, 39 percent of all global mobile devices could be capable of connecting to an IPv6 mobile network—that’s more than 4 billion devices.

Your current network running IPv4-based devices won’t be obsolete for some time. However, if you haven’t already started making plans for the transition to IPv6, you should. The first step you should take is determining how and when to transition to the new Internet protocol based on your business needs. For example, if you do business with others who are already on an IPv6 network, you may decide to migrate sooner rather than later.

Once you’ve made that decision, you can follow these steps for preparing your network for IPv6.

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IPv6 Planning – Where Do I Start?

World IPv6 Day is on June 6, 2012 and organizations everywhere will be permanently enabling IPv6 for their products and services. With the date fast approaching, you might be wondering: where do I start with my IPv6 transition?

Integrating IPv6 into an existing network may seem like a daunting task. Big tasks can create ‘analysis paralysis’ to the point where nothing gets done because the perception is that the task is too big to take on.  The key in this scenario is to not think about the task as one big one, but rather a series of small tasks that can be handled independently.  Here are a few suggestions to get you started with IPv6:

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