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3 Steps for Preparing Your Network for IPv6

IPv6 is coming—are you ready to make the transition?

The next generation of Internet networking protocol—IPv6—is coming and companies of all sizes are preparing their networks for it now. IPv6 makes room for more people, more companies, and more devices on the Internet than the current Internet protocol, IPv4.  IPv6 provides better security, faster performance over virtual private networks (VPN), and makes local networks easier to manage. The new protocol also offers improved quality of service (QoS) for more reliable voice and video performance and ensures better coverage and throughput for mobile devices.

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IPv6 works in live testing; what’s next?


By Fred Baker, Cisco Fellow

During the week that World IPv6 day happened in, I was curious to see how the various networks involved were doing over time. I set up a test from my home, using a Hurricane Electric tunnel, IPv6 on my Mac (10.6.7), and my 871 router (15.1(3)T). I put together a simple script that would accept as input a set of web sites like http://www.cisco.com -- the web sites that ISOC said were going to be IPv6-accessible on the 8th of June -- and spidered them (e.g., read the web page using the unix ‘curl’ utility and scanned for href specifications). I then added the URLs I had learned to my list and continued to try them, gathering statistics on success rate for those that had AAAA records. As a result, I was doing about four page loads an hour from each domain in the list from June 5 through June 9 -- all times GMT.

One observation I made was at once gratifying and “as expected”. The various sites were coming up in advance of the magic day and, for the most part, serving IPv6 data successfully. One observation that surprised me a little at the time but in retrospect makes sense -- the download rate increased over time as well. Why? Well, it takes some time to attempt to download and discover that the AAAA record is not up or is up and the service isn’t quite there yet. As my probability of a successful download increased, my download rate increased.

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Secure Networking for (Really) Small Businesses

Today, Cisco came out with a new wireless VPN firewall specifically designed for the smallest of small businesses. In fact, the router is built for offices with one to five people that need remote access on a secure connection. The new router has what we call “business class” performance without the complexity often found in larger-scale products. Since the Cisco RV110W is designed with the “do-it-yourselfer” in mind, it’s very easy to use, and at $99 it’s affordable, even for extremely small companies.

It’s easy to set up, and requires no IT resources. You just plug it into the network. Partners can put it in place quickly so that you can stay focused on your business and not lose any time. The four-port switch that is integrated into the product lets you connect securely to computers, printers, IP phones, cameras, and other devices.  It works on both Windows and Mac OS-X for remote access to data anytime, anywhere. Also, the high-speed, wireless-N access points give you a faster file transfer time, which increases performance and the coverage area, helping employees to stay productive even if they are not at their desks.

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World IPv6 Day results positive

The much anticipated World IPv6 Day is now behind us. Almost 400 vendors came together on June 8, 2011 by enabling IPv6 for their content and services for 24 hours. Cisco was one of them. The goal of the test was to demonstrate the viability and potential caveats of a large-scale IPv6 deployment in the real world, as IPv6 has been steadily gaining more and more traction and interest recently due to the gradual IPv4 address exhaustion.

Internally, Cisco, as most organizations, was preparing for the 24 hours to go smoothly for its own IPv6-served content. At the same time, considering the large deployment of Cisco devices throughout networks everywhere, precautions were taken to address any issues that could arise during the dry run. Fortunately, activities concluded successfully with no major issues, showing that an IPv6 future could be closer than initially thought.

There already are and will be many reports created on results, statistics and lessons learned during testing. Among those, we would like to stress a few key-points taken from Cisco Distinguished and Support Engineers Carlos Pignataro, Salman Asadullah, Phil Remaker and Andrew Yourtchenko, who were all engaged in the project, which give a general feel on how the day went:

  • Vendor coordination was made possible, showing that even competitors can work together when it comes to a common goal that will benefit everyone.
  • There were no support cases related to the World IPv6 Day activities, which indicated a good level of both IPv6 preparedness and product readiness.
  • IPv6 adoption could happen smoothly, avoiding major technical issues when done methodically.
  • AAAA DNS records that are used for IPv6 do not automatically “break” the Internet, as it was often argued. There are certain challenges with providing an IPv6-enabled DNS infrastructure, but these can be addressed.
  • User experience feedback was positive. That was based on an IPv6-only approach. Due to the implementations in a dual-stack environment, user experience could deteriorate based on IPv6 and/or IPv4 performance. In such environments, solutions that track IPv6 and IPv4 performance can alleviate help. As the transition is taking place for years to come, dual-stacked environments will be the way to go, and solutions like Happy Eyeballs can certainly make the experience more transparent for users. The Chrome browser already implements a similar fall-back mechanism, which had documented benefits for some of its users.

Concluding, it is important to note that the successful World IPv6 Day exercise proved that transition to IPv6 would probably not be nearly as scary as many had originally thought some time ago. Careful and gradual adoption is easier than it was believed, and it is already happening. Product concerns, improvements and caveats here at Cisco are aggressively being worked on, and the future will only include positive developments.

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Why I’m Feelin’ Good About Chicago and The Cable Show

By Mark Palazzo, VP/GM, Cisco’s Cable Access business

As industry vendors, we go into every tradeshow mired in details. From the packed meeting schedules to the booth demos (things go much better when they work…!) to the evening events with customers and industry colleagues, it’s far less glamorous than our non-convention-going friends might think. Right? Then there’s struggle to get the suitcase zipped, with the new tonnage of stuff needing transit back to the office.

It’s only afterwards, with a weekend in between to parse the major themes, that the answers come. I’ve checked in with several Cisco colleagues who were on-site in Chicago for The Cable Show last week. We’re in agreement that if the question is “I saw the whole thing! What happened??” in terms of this year’s blur of a Cable Show, our short list goes like this:

  1. Optimism reigns in cable. In years past, and especially last year, it seemed that a miasma of anxiousness blanketed the cable industry, led by fears of over-the-top video providers – and especially Netflix, as a contender for the industry’s own video-on-demand business. This year, we went into the show fresh with knowledge that Netflix traffic continues to gobble up broadband capacity — yet the sense of optimism amongst service providers was unmistakable. To me, it almost felt like the buoyant good will of the go-go-franchise years, in the late ‘70s. With continued evidence that DOCSIS can see the industry through even the heaviest of bandwidth-heavy times, coupled with significant advancements in both “cloud” and “client” – it’s gratifying, as a vendor company focused nearly entirely on network, client, and cloud! Read More »

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