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IPv6 Testing Sites and Tools

So, World IPv6 Day is just under a month away.  You already have IPv6 connectivity, right?  How do you know that everything will work correctly when the big day arrives?  You will need to do some testing.

A number of enthusiastic engineers across the world have set up public IPv6 sites that you can use to perform all manner of tests.  I would like to tell you about some of my personal favorites, and invite you to tell me about your own.  Please note that Cisco manages none of the tools mentioned here, and as such cannot offer any assurances about their suitability for use on your network, so insert your own dire sounding legal disclaimers here before continuing.

Can You Connect?

For a quick “Am I Ready?” test, http:/omgipv6day.com/ provides a simple Yes-or-No assessment of your web browser’s ability to access IPv6 enabled sites on World IPv6 Day.  Here is my attempt to connect with an impaired IPv6 tunnel:

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IPv6 Transition Tricks using LISP (Location/ID Separation Protocol)

What would you say if I told you that one of the most visited websites on the Internet enabled IPv6 connectivity to their site in the course of an afternoon for zero dollars using existing Cisco hardware?  How about if I told you that the site was Facebook?  Most people would assume I was joking or exaggerating.  However, by using LISP, Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert Donn Lee pulled off this seemingly impossible feat and then presented a paper at the North American Network Operators Group (NANOG) about the experience.  You can even watch the video here.

What is LISP? 

Let’s start by understanding the problem that LISP solves.  An IP address serves two distinct functions:  It identifies the endpoint host, but also suggests the location because the high order bits identify the network on which the device is located.  If you move a device from one subnet to another, the address has to change since the device location changes.  The endpoint identification from the previous location gets lost when the device moves, unless some form of tunneling or mobility protocol is employed. 

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IPV6: Asia-Pacific APNIC Zero Day

On April 15, 2011 the Asia Pacific Region ran out of IPv4 addresses.

“Wait a minute,” I hear you say, “Didn’t we already run out of IPv4 addresses?”

Yes, you have a good memory:  The IPv4 address pool was exhausted in February 2011.  The doomsayers and pundits all bemoaned the gloom and doom of the day, and experts gravely predicted the horrors of things to come.  IT publications were filled with articles, Twitter exploded with witty remarks about the coming “ARPAgeddon,” and even the mainstream media ran semi-accurate sensationalist articles on the topic.

But then something funny happened.  Nothing.  The Internet kept working.  IPv4 blocks continued to be handed out.  The dust settled and most folks went happily about their business.  How could this be so? Was it all a bunch of media hype and false alarms?  No.  February was really the early warning of the problems to come.

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IPv6: The Five Stages of Grief

When faced with a life changing situation such as the depletion of the IPv4 address space, the emotional reaction tends to track the Kübler-Ross model, better known as The Five Stages of Grief. 

DENIAL:  There is no crisis!  There are lots of IPv4 addresses; we just need to reclaim the ones that are not used. 

The increasing consumption rate of IP addresses combined with the natural inefficiencies inherent in IPv4 subnetting makes complete exhaustion of the IPv4 address space inevitable.  In October 2010, a return of a “/8 block” (16 million addresses) added only one month to the depletion date.  As of April 2011, the Asia-Pacific region alone consumes two /8 network blocks every month.  No amount of conservation or reclamation can solve the problem.

ANGER: What a stupid design!  How could we run out of addresses?

Vint Cerf sends his most sincere apologies.  Nobody imagined the phenomenal growth of the Internet when Vint and his team defined the 32-bit IPv4 address space back in 1977.  The good news is that the problem has been recognized since the 1980s and the IETF has had the successor IPv6 protocol defined since 1998.  You can take advantage of more than a decade of experience in navigating this transition.

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How to get IPv6, now

Unless you have been living under a rock, you should know by now that the IPv4 address pool is exhausted and you need to start using IPv6.  In fact, you may even be convinced.   How can you get your network connected to the growing IPv6 capable Internet, ideally in time for World IPv6 Day

Start with your Internet service provider (ISP).  Although not every ISP currently provides IPv6 service, the list grows in proportion to customer demand.  Free, Comcast, and Softbank are just some examples of prominent ISPs who have large scale public IPv6 trials and rollouts.  Even if your ISP has not announced an IPv6 plan, contact them.  You might be able to become early adopter on an unannounced trial.

In the event that your provider has not yet seized the opportunity to provide IPv6 service, you can seek out a public tunnel broker, a service that allows you to “tunnel” IPv6 packets across an IPv4-only connection to the IPv6 capable Internet.  A number of tunnel broker providers like Hurricane Electric, SixXS and Freenet6 provide tunneling points of presence at many locations worldwide and will gladly issue an IPv6 prefix (or several!) for no charge.  Some tunnel brokers will even provide a BGP feed.  This is an excellent way to start gaining experience with IPv6 connectivity in your network.

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