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IPv6-Centric Networking: Innovation Without Constraints

Over the last several months, I’ve been pleased to invite Mark Townsley, Cisco Fellow and recognized expert on Internet Protocol (IP), to discuss IPv6 as a key enabler of the Internet of Everything (IoE). In his series of guest blogs, Mark has explained the basics of IPv6 and why it is important (“Demystifying IPv6”), and discussed some of the technical challenges of moving to this latest version of IP (“Moving to IPv6: Rebuilding the Heart of the Internet Without Missing a Beat”). In this installment, Mark takes a look into the future at some of the things IPv6 will make possible. I’m particularly excited about this, because the unlimited addressing scheme of IPv6 is what will enable the exponential growth of connections among people, process, data, and things that will drive $14.4 trillion in IoE private-sector value over the next decade, and dramatically impact our daily lives. This is Mark’s third and final blog on IPv6.

 

townsleyIn my last blog, I explored various ways that IPv4 and IPv6 can coexist on the same network —each vital during the global IPv6 transition period, which began in earnest after the World IPv6 Launch last year. Today, I want to highlight new network deployments and designs that I like to call “IPv6-centric.” These architectures go beyond the more conservative approach of a congruent dual-stack IP network. Instead, they are designed and operated from the ground up with IPv6 at the base. While these networks can accommodate IPv4, IPv6 takes center stage.

 

IPv6-Centric Mobile Networks: Beginning last month, T-Mobile and Metro PCS users in the United States running the latest version of Android software are now provisioned with IPv6 by default, with no IPv4 address from the ISP network. Traffic to IPv6-enabled destinations such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, and Wikipedia will simply use IPv6. Traffic to non-IPv6-enabled sites will be translated to IPv4 after traversing the ISP network. If there are any remaining applications on the device that simply do not know how to handle IPv6, the Android device itself performs and IPv4-to-IPv6 translation internally, so the access network doesn’t see IPv4 at all.

“4G speeds and IoE are driving ‘scale-up’ and ‘scale-out’ in mobile networks. The scarcity of globally routable IPv4 addresses forces a series of compromises that an IPv6-only infrastructure alleviates, providing a solid bedrock to build upon.”

—    Cameron Byrne, T-Mobile Wireless, USA

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Cisco Fellow Mark Townsley: A Better Way to Deploy IPv6

We first talked about the Mapping of Address and Port (MAP) method to handle IPv4 exhaust and the transition to IPv6 last week. MAP is based on two IETF drafts currently in the process of standardization in draft-ietf-softwire-map (MAP-E) and draft-ietf-softwire-map-t (MAP-T). The real advantage with MAP is that it’s stateless and doesn’t require additional hardware as traffic grows.   Read More »

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The Mobile Business Case for IPv6

This week is the industry’s leading IPv6 event, the World IPv6 Congress in Paris, France. Cisco Fellow Mark Townsley delivered the keynote again, this time with a theme around the “Mobile Business Case for IPv6”. What’s exciting is that in the mere 18 months since the World IPv6 Launch we’re already seeing significant adoption of the larger scale address protocol. Mark in fact specifically cites how Verizon Wireless is already sending 30% of its traffic to search engine giant Google over IPv6. Other wireless operators are going straight to IPv6 for 4G and LTE deployments as well. Read More »

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Worldwide IPv6 Usage Reaches Key Threshold

This past weekend, Google’s IPv6 Statistics reported that on November 17, 2012, user activity on their websites via native IPv6 reached 1% for the very first time. This may not sound like much at first glance, but for a system like the Internet which is slated to have 19 billion active fixed and mobile network connections by 2016, even one percent of this whole marks an impressive achievement. The billions of applications, devices, routers, and switches that make up the Internet are all interconnected such that if any one doesn’t support IPv6 on a given path between the end user and the content the user is trying to reach, the system automatically falls back to IPv4. This is necessary to keep the Internet running while the upgrade occurs, but it also means that the benefits of end-to-end traffic flow over IPv6 occurs only after all the various links in the chain are all capable of supporting IPv6.

To get a better idea of how each individual piece of the deployment puzzle is advancing, Cisco has been tracking various leading indicators and regional deployment statistics. We’ve pulled these together in an interactive tool at 6lab.cisco.com where  you can view IPv6 deployment data from a variety of perspectives. With the tool you can “mouse over” different regions of the world to see how various countries are doing in different areas. For example, by moving your mouse cursor over the United States, you can see that 57% of the networks that appear as transit for IPv4 today also support IPv6, end users as measured by Google is higher than the global average at 1.93%, and that 45% of the time the average user in the US visits an IPv6 reachable website.  You can also dig down into the methodology we are using to create the various rankings and percentages.

Moving the needle

Back in 2007 when Google began publishing its IPv6 measurements, native IPv6 deployment stood at 0.04%. Working together, the industry moved the needle 2500% over the past five years (while adding an additional billion users to the Internet during the same period). To help make this happen, two historic industry events have occurred: The World IPv6 Day in 2011 and the World IPv6 Launch in 2012. During the planning stages for the World IPv6 Launch, I had the privilege to work alongside other industry leaders and the Internet Society until agreement was reached to target three categories of participants that committed to enable production-level IPv6 by default: website operators, network operators, and home router vendors. Cisco signed on and participated as both a website operator and home router vendor.

Making a commitment is one thing, allowing a public measurement for all to see is another. For a website it is rather simple to measure IPv6 deployment as either a “AAAA” record for IPv6 exists in the public DNS system and the website can be reached from the Internet over IPv6 or not. For the network operator category we were looking for a lasting commitment together with some measurable factor that would provide reasonable proof that the network had moved beyond trials and on to production-level deployment. After much discussion, we came up with these two basic commitments for this category:

  1. IPv6 be a “normal part of business operations” for users, targeting ISPs to commit to enable IPv6 for users by default rather than on “special request”
  2. One percent of all user activity as measured by Google, Facebook, Yahoo! and Bing over IPv6 by June 6, 2012, the inaugural day of the Launch.

In practice, reaching one percent of user activity means deployment to a considerably larger subscriber base than one percent after accounting for legacy home networking gear, operating systems, and applications. For an ISP to reach this level as measured by the content providers, the “general population” of subscribers would have to brought into the deployment -- a strong indication of production-level operation and reasonable proof that the deployment was more than a trial of friendly users or beta testers.

Looking Ahead

The aim of the World IPv6 Launch was to spark a sustained growth of IPv6 usage leading up to and continuing after June 6, 2012. The continued growth since June 6 and the milestone reached this weekend is an indicator that this commitment had its intended affect thus far. The Internet Society is continuing to report measurements for World IPv6 Launch participants, and has been soliciting new members. There are quite a few Network Operators on the list now, including not only ISPs but universities and other types of networks as well. As long as a network  has its own Autonomous System number, it can be measured and potentially added to the participant list. Cisco now has its own AS (#109) on the list, making it the first in the world that is participating in all three categories of the World IPv6 Launch.

User activity as measured by Google hit 0.25% for the first time in March 2011. A year later, on March 10, 2012, it doubled to 0.5% for the first time. It’s taken about 8 months to double that again to reach 1.0% today. If this trend continues, it will double again by mid next year and could break past 10% by the end of 2014. The trend is increasingly clear: If you are a network operator, network-enabled application developer, or anyone else that works with IP and are not running IPv6 now or don’t have a plan in place to make it happen soon, now is the time to get started.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cisco at V6 World Congress 2012

Get your passports ready! Coming off the successful event last February and in preparation for the next World IPv6 Day, Cisco again is sponsoring the V6 World Congress 2012 in Paris February 7-10 2012. This is an opportunity to hear from a number of IPv6-related companies such as Google, Yahoo, Softbank, Comcast, and of course Cisco.  In addition to the keynotes and panels the event also provides a unique opportunity to actually meet one-on-one with Cisco’s technology leaders.

While previously this was a service provider focused event, this year includes a number of sessions targeted towards enterprise customers, so even if you aren’t a network provider it’s still a great venue to learn about the transition to the IPv6 Internet.

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