Today marks a huge milestone in the networking industry – the official launch by the Internet Society (ISOC) of the new IPv6-based Internet helps ensure its continued growth and impact on the world economy. This new Internet has been in the works for over two decades, including the publication of the first IPv6 standard (RFC2460) by Steven Deering of Cisco and Robert Hinden of Nokia. Since then the industry has made incredible investments in technology to reach this successful achievement including today’s official participation of over 2000 websites and 50+ network operators. According to some of our own calculations we’re estimating that 30% of the world’s web pages are now directly reachable by IPv6.
For us at Cisco on our Service Provider Marketing team, it’s been an exciting journey. We first sought to make the industry challenge imposed by the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses more widely understood by a non-technical audience. Hence our effort at some humor with Read More »
World IPv6 Launch is just around the corner. By June 6, 2012, web companies, major ISPs, and home networking equipment manufacturers are coming together to permanently enable IPv6 for their products and services. Cisco is among them, participating in this global IPv6 launch both as a website operator and leading network solutions provider. As a web company, we’ll be making www.cisco.com permanently IPv6 accessible starting on June 6. Here’s a view into how Cisco IT has been preparing our IPv6 web presence.
The enterprise journey toward IPv6 started almost a decade ago, and the focus on our web presence started a couple of years ago when the Cisco IT team built a small-scale, parallel IPv6 environment in a sandbox network that was used to host static content. We used the domain name www.ipv6.cisco.com, knowing that few people would visit the site. It gave us a chance to get our feet wet with IPv6 while minimizing the risk should something go wrong.
Fast forward to June 8, 2011 and World IPv6 Day when many website operators globally enabled IPv6 access to their production sites and services as part of a 24-hour “test run.” Cisco made www.cisco.com IPv6 accessible on that day. The outcome was a success, and gave all the participants confidence that IPv6 was truly production ready. World IPv6 Day was also a valuable learning opportunity for Cisco IT to better understand what it would take to permanently IPv6-enable our website.
In the year since that test run, our focus has been on preparing for the World IPv6 Launch. The big difference in planning for this launch stems from “the turn it on and leave it on” objective. To leave IPv6 on permanently demands production quality, and production quality demands readiness. Readiness started for us several months ago when we first sought support for World IPv6 Launch from IT and business leaders. Based on our experiences with World IPv6 Day, we knew that planning and delivery would require collaboration across most of the IT organization. So the first step was buy-in at the CIO level to help ensure that all needed teams were at the table.
Next, we turned our attention toward architecture and design. Our primary goals were to:
Leverage the existing production network infrastructure investment and avoid costs of parallel networks.
Ensure production quality and the ability to maintain service levels for www.cisco.com.
The design we chose centers on a reverse proxy model using the Cisco Application Control Engine (ACE). Incoming IPv6 sessions are proxied by the ACE to the existing web tier using IPv4. The network upstream of the ACE is dual stacked, including existing ISP connections.
With the design in place, our attention shifted to network hardware, software, service provider, and application readiness. We performed an assessment using the IPv6 Device Readiness Assessment service to determine whether existing devices in our DMZ and data center networks were capable of supporting IPv6. The assessment showed that existing hardware was capable of supporting IPv6, but software upgrades were required on some platforms. In parallel, we assessed our ISP partners and their ability to dual stack existing connections, as well as our content delivery network provider’s ability to accelerate content delivery for www.cisco.com over IPv6. Based on our experience with World IPv6 Day, we felt comfortable that existing applications and services residing behind the www.cisco.com domain name were compatible with IPv6. The only application that required slight modification was our web analytics system that tracks site usage for www.cisco.com and uses source IP address as a data point. We found that the system vendor supported IPv6 in the product, and we made minor configuration changes to accommodate IPv6 source addresses.
Operational readiness followed, which is a critical stage given the need to maintain production levels of service. With service assurance being top of mind, we enhanced our network management systems to support network, device, and application monitoring over IPv6. We also put together a training program to ensure that everyone, from the front line help desk to network engineers, had the IPv6 knowledge and skills appropriate for their role.
And finally we reached system-level testing, which is where we’re at today. End-to-end testing is under way with QA engineers performing functional and performance checks. Our last test will be a “final practice run” when we temporarily advertise an AAAA DNS record for a couple of hours and validate that everything works end to end in our production environment, including our content delivery network and ISP services.
As we approach the much talked about World IPv6 Launchon June 6th, 2012 it is important to help as many as possible do what is needed to prepare their own Internet Edge to not only participate in the launch but also to ensure business continuity regardless of which IP version is used. Start now so you don’t have to rush your deployment at the end.
There are important first steps to take before you ever type the first command or click the first check box on a product. Important stuff like a gap analysis on what you can and cannot support as well as what your provider supports IPv6-wise, what your address plan will look like and other considerations. Luckily Cisco has either written a document or a blog on many of these topics. Recent blogs include:
Given that we are just shy of a month away from World IPv6 Launch, I wanted to blog on the top considerations for enabling IPv6 support on one of the most important components of any Internet Edge design, the Application Delivery Controller (ADC) or more commonly known as a Server Load Balancer (SLB).
In January 2011, Internet companies around the globe announced they would come together to perform the largest test of IPv6 deployment the world had ever seen. Cisco was among the first to proudly announce its official participation in World IPv6 Day, and after several months of preparation and an intense 24 hours in June, it was clear that we had witnessed a watershed moment in the move towards global deployment of IPv6.
So what next after this? As reports came in and logs were analyzed over the days and weeks after, it became increasingly clear that we didn’t need just another global test. Instead, we needed to enable IPv6 once and for all. So, on June 6, 2012, the industry will again unite but not just for single day. This time, we turn it on and leave it on. We’re calling this World IPv6 Launch, and it is now the largest commitment to full-scale production IPv6 deployment the world has ever seen.
For websites, the commitment is similar to last year in that reachability via IPv6 will be advertised within the global Domain Name System (DNS). This time, however, the DNS entry will remain indefinitely rather than disappear after a single day. In addition to websites, the Internet Society has setup requirements for participation by residential Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and makers of home networking equipment. The rationale for expanding to these two specific areas is that while IPv6 has been available in some models of consumer-grade networking equipment and from some ISPs for a number of years, it was very rarely enabled by default and as such very rarely in use despite the majority of internet devices being capable of IPv6.
In order to tackle these remaining barriers to deployment, new Internet subscriptions and consumer-grade home routers will begin to appear with IPv6 enabled by default as the normal course of doing business. Specifically, participating home networking equipment makers are committing to include IPv6 enabled by default through a wide range of their products (both “low end” and “high end” home routers) by June 6. For ISPs, websites will be measuring what percentage of users have IPv6 enabled, with a target of no less than 1% before the World IPv6 Launch deadline. The 1% is a “running start”, such that after June 6 we’ll be on a path of sustained growth in IPv6 deployment going forward.
Cisco is again pleased to announce its full participation and support, both by enabling IPv6 on www.cisco.com indefinitely and by enabling IPv6 by default in our new line of E-series home routers. In addition, we will be working with our customers, Cisco Services and development teams to ensure that as many companies as possible can participate and those that do are successful.
June 6, 2012. This is the year we Launch a new Internet Protocol.