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NTT Plala Employs Cisco ASR 9000 Series

NTT PlalaIn an ongoing effort to highlight the “Super Simple” developments in Cisco’s service provider technology portfolio, I am blogging once again about a key customer, NTT Plala Inc., part of the NTT group of Japan. They’ve been a Cisco customer for some time, but recently deployed the Cisco Aggregation Services Router 9000 Series (ASR 9000)  to enhance their Internet access service. Plala seeks to build a faster yet secure wideband Internet service while optimizing energy consumption. The need for speed is being driven by the demand for services such as video (Hikari TV), and business Internet (“Business Plala”).

One area that the NTT Group has been truly on the leading edge has been IPv6 deployments and the need to be ready for IPv4 address space exhaustion. All of their equipment must be “IPv6 ready”, and the Cisco ASR 9000 is no exception. We’ve communicated the fact that the need to prepare is now, but what’s amazing is when you compare the actual exhaust date to the estimate published by CNN (Sept 1999) over a decade earlier:  “The Great IP Crunch of 2010.” Being off by only 10% a full decade out is quite an accomplishment in the fast moving technology industry! What’s just as interesting, from my standpoint at least, is that the 1999 article mentions only one company by name that was preparing in advance: Japan’s NTT.

Deploying Cisco ASR 9000, companies can get a highly scalable platform that allows them to offer enhanced security service,” said Katsumi Nagata, Board Director, General Manager of NTT Plala.  “The environment surrounding ISPs is getting highly complex.  Companies are facing many challenges including the need to respond to increasing video traffic and reduce power consumption.  Cisco ASR 9000 offers solutions to each of these challenges.

At Cisco, we are proud to work and now public announce NTT Plala as one of the more than 500 ASR 9000 Series customers around the world, and we look forward to continued growth and appreciate the confidence they’ve placed in us.

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IPv6 Sensing on Your (and Our) Web Site

June 6, 2011 at 6:31 am PST

You may have noticed that on our Support page, we have a small banner at the top in preparation for World IPv6 Day, which is a galactic test flight of the next generation Internet Protocol.

The banner on our support page tests whether you’re on an IPv4 network (which is the vast majority of our visitors) or on a new IPv6 network (which is the future).

When you first come onto the support page, you’ll see the banner checking your network status:

Then, once the quick test completes, if you’re on an IPv4 network, you’ll get this:

If you’re on an IPv6 network, well, first you already know you are very cool. And second, you’ll see this banner:

If you’re on an IPv6 network but there’s a problem somewhere between here are there, you’ll see this:

We don’t expect many people will see the “problem banner” above. But, the whole purpose of IPv6 Day is to test the end to end behavior and performance of IPv6. It’s the “shakedown cruise” like they do on a brand new oceanliner.

Here’s a little more on the idea behind the banner:

  1. The goal was to inform people about ipv6 and World IPv6 Day and collect statistics to understand how many visitors we would see on IPv6.
  2. As we were discussing as to how to inform people, we got inspired by http://www.getipv6.info/index.php/Warning_broken_users_with_JavaScript.
  3. Inspired by this service, we choose to implement a basic test rather than displaying plain vanilla message.
  4. To support this pre-test service, we created an IPv4-only site, and IPv6-only site and dual-stack enabled site. We choose not to rely on publicly hosted sites.
  5. Based on the success of 1pixel image request from each of the above sites, we display the appropriate message. (This banner and test loads after everything else on the page, by the way, so it doesn’t slow down the page.)
  6. If you can reach IPv4 only sites but cannot reach the dual stack site, this is a mark of brokenness, meaning that your device is probably trying to attach with IPv6 to the dual-stack site and failing.  As part of the logic,  we also report the same error if you can reach IPv6 only sites but not the dual stack site.  This is rarer still
  7. In the process we also send a tag to our analytics server for data capture – which is one of the main goals of the setup.
  8. We have kept the test basic and simple, linking you to a Support Community entry to get more information https://supportforums.cisco.com/docs/DOC-16692.

If your company is participating in World IPv6 Day, you can implement this same kind of logic on your own web sites. It’s easy!

For a more comprehensive IPv6 test, you can use http://test-ipv6.com.

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Ready for World IPv6 Day – June 8? Get ready on 6/6 with #IPv6Chat and @CiscoGeeks

In case you’ve been living under a rock, World IPv6 Day is June 8.  Many companies will participate, including Cisco. In fact, we’ve got a full day of festivities planned. From the Running of the IT Admins to the Fire Walking Of Threat Researchers, it should be a fun day.

To answer any last-minute questions and assuage your completely founded anxieties, we’re having an IPv6 TweetChat on June 6. Think of it as a nice way to ease into your morning if you’re on the west coast or a random amusement if you’re elsewhere.

TwitLatin With Bullhorns

What’s a TweetChat? Very simple. If you’re on Twitter, you ask and answer questions and add a hashtag somewhere in your tweet to identify it as part of the conversation. You can keep an eye out for others using this hashtag (via search) and see the flow of the conversation. For this chat use #IPv6Chat.

On the day of the event (June 6 – Monday! At 9-10am PDT), you can follow the conversation with hashtag #IPv6Chat on any of your favorite Twitter clients or directly on Twitter. <http://twitter.com/#!/search/%23IPv6Chat>  We will also be giving away 25 t-shirts to customers who ask questions.  Read the full terms and agreements.

More IPv6

If you’re too excited about IPv6 to wait till June 6, you can check out Cisco’s very own IPv6 page, or review some of the blogs written by my very talented colleagues.

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Nothing for World IPv6 Day

After months of anticipation, World IPv6 Day is nearly upon us.  Network equipment vendors, network service providers and networked enterprises have all diligently prepared and for twenty-four hours on June 8th we will all get to experience the fruits of that labor when more than three hundred websites offer their content using IPv6 in addition to IPv4.  If everyone has done their job right, what do we expect to happen?

Nothing.

That’s right.  The best outcome of World IPv6 Day would be a completely unchanged end-user experience, regardless of the fact that they now can use a new underlying network protocol.

Get Ready for Nothing

In order to best ensure that nothing happens, IT professionals should seek out latent IPv6 problems that may suddenly manifest themselves when so much IPv6 traffic appears.  What steps should you take to ensure that you experience nothing?

Until June 9th, the Cisco Technical Support Website will display a banner which tests the most common failure mode expected on World IPv6 Day.  Using some Javascript magic, the banner predicts the readiness of the host from which a visitor connects.  Ideally, the visitor will see teal text and a check mark icon indicating success, but a visitor who sees red text and an X icon may have a potential connectivity problem.

Even if the visitor can achieve the coveted check mark on that banner, it would not hurt to conduct a few more tests.

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Fun with IPv6

May 31, 2011 at 6:44 am PST

If you know anything about IPv6, you know that it expands the number of possible IP addresses to an unimaginably large scale. This relieves the pressing shortage of IP addresses being faced today in IPv4, so that there will be addresses available for all the new web sites, printers, cars and light bulbs that will need them.

IPv6 does this trick by using nice, big 128 bit addresses which are noted in hexadecimal.  And the hexadecimal is where some fun comes in.

I’m not kidding: Fun!  The fun is that hexadecimal addresses include, as you know, A,B,C,D,E, and F in addition to numerics. So, now those with a technical bent can actually start to spell some things even in the numeric addresses. It was inevitable that some clever people would combine the hex notation of IPv6 with the Internet tradition of “leetspeak.” (Leets are a kind of cute code, as you probably know, where you can replace letters with numbers that look similar. O becomes zero, L or T become 7, S becomes 5, G becomes 6, etc. Hence the name L33T (or more correctly 1337). Well, with ABCDEF in addition to the numbers, there are some fun possibilities for IP addresses.  Letters? Leets? Imagine the possibilities for clever numeric addresses!)

We’ve already seen a couple in the wild:

Facebook’s IPv6 address:

face:b00c (“facebooc”)

Full address:  2620:0:1cfe:face:b00c::3

A Cisco IPv6 test address:

c:15c0:d06:f00d (“cisco dogfood” as in “test your own dogfood”)

Full address:  2001:420:80:1:c:15c0:d06:f00d

Of course, the only people who will ever see these addresses are people who speak in hextets, which makes them all the more fun. (Most people will never see these addresses, because IPv6 is nicely invisible to users and you’ll still type facebook.com to get the Facebook, for example).

We haven’t seen any others yet, but Cisco’s Phil Remaker suggests that perhaps Starbucks.com could use CAFE or the National Cattlemen’s Association would use BEEF or that the LA County Coroner’s Office (and its gift shop) could use DEAD (if My Chemical Romance or the Grateful Dead‘s dead.net don’t grab it first).

Underneath this humor is a serious fact: The world is running out of IPv4 addresses, and the world’s technology companies and organizations are working together on the upcoming World IPv6 day on June 8th to test IPv6 end to end in action.  You’ll be reading quite a lot more about the benefits and lore of IPv6 in coming days and weeks.

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