Why an Assessment Phase is Necessary for Successful IPv6 Adoption
As you start to look into the IPv6 integration process, you will need to look at what is in place in the network and then assess capabilities. The assessment process is about discovering capabilities of the existing equipment, services and applications. The result of the assessment process will give you an idea of what has to be done to ensure that the desired IPv6 features are supported.
A good starting point for the assessment phase is to analyze your infrastructure for basic IPv6 services. Can I configure an IPv6 address on the device? Does it support neighbor discovery and ICMPv6? The question you are trying to answer is “What are the minimum features I absolutely need to get IPv6 up and running?”
The answer to this question means defining what “IPv6-capable” means to your organization. You can start by observing how others are defining IPv6 capability. The IPv6 Ready Logo and USGv6 programs are good references for defining what “IPv6 capable” means. These programs also define a series of tests that will verify support of IPv6 capabilities. They also have a list of vendor equipment that has gone through, and passed, the tests. The RIPE-501 document also lists IPv6 features that vendor equipment should support. Note: RIPE-501 is undergoing an update which should be out shortly.
As you look at the phases of your integration project, you can plug features into the different phases. You can then work with your vendor to start to identify where those features are supported. Vendor documentation will help identify what features are available and where they are available. The links below are an example:
All of the information you gather can be pulled together into a table. The table should show the platforms, features, and where those features are supported. The table below gives you an idea of what the complete table might look like.
The boxes marked yellow show a feature that is not supported but has a workaround, and the boxes marked red show a feature that is not supported. As the table shows, there are some places where a platform does not support a needed feature. At this point, you need to work with your vendor to let them know of the gap and how it impacts IPv6 integration in your organization.
The other output of the assessment will be identification of what needs to be done in order to get support for the desired IPv6 features. The results will identify devices that need software upgrades or possible replacement to support the desired IPv6 features. This result will directly impact the IPv6 integration timeline, as all the upgrades and any replacements will need to happen prior to activating IPv6 in the network.
Just as the integration process has to account for all aspects of what is happening in the IT shop, the assessment process similarly has to account for all parts of the system – network, end systems, and applications. The above paragraphs focus on the network infrastructure. The host and server operating systems and applications and services should also go through a similar assessment process. You will need to gather the information about the devices or services, define the desired features, work with the vendor to determine where features are supported and develop a plan get those features in place.
The IPv6 capabilities of the equipment and applications in your network should not be taken for granted. A comprehensive assessment process should be done to ensure that no surprises pop up when IPv6 needs to be integrated into your network.