Aug 242012
Spend 30 minutes with IPv6 every Friday!

The Summer of IPv6 is over. I no longer wear shorts and T-shirt. The feeling of a long dark winter coming soon, after a poor Swedish summer. The feeling of not being understood. The feeling of being on the loosing side. Why bother with this IPv6 stuff? It will never happen, people tell me. There’s no benefit for enterprises. It’s scary and insecure. There will be other solutions. We will manage with good ol’ IPv4. After all, we still have our own 192.168.0.x network to work with – all by ourselves.
For writers, it’s always fun to take a discussion and turn it into a crisp division between dark and white, the good and the bad. In this case, on my good summer days, I see no sides. I see more than 50 shades of grey. And I see one Internet that everyone wants to stay and evolve as the platform for personal and business communication, information sharing, amusement and much, much more.  Let’s forget the bad summer, the coming winter and spend 30 minutes on the Internet and IPv6!

Argumentation for IPv6 is simple: There’s no other option.

Argumentation for IPv6 is simple. This fall, at least one more registry will run out of IPv4 addresses – RIPE claims that there’s only one month’s worth of IPv4 addresses in supply in their warehouses. After that the European Internet service providers and hosting companies are going to run out of addresses at some point in the future. They know that and will adjust the pricing accordingly. And they invest in IPv4 to IPv6 gateways in order to keep services running.

There’s no future for an IPv4 based Internet. IPv6 is the future of the Internet – if we want it to continue growing and support new services.

The alternative: Internet fragmentation and service provider control

The current IPv4 based Internet will not stop operations. It will continue to run for many years. But if we don’t do anything, it will become an infrastructure like Cable TV, where service providers select the content and the services for their customers. Everything will run through service provider gateways.

– “Have you seen this very cool website? It’s! Go there”
– “No, my service doesn’t include I might have to buy an additional Internet subscription to reach it!”

This is a conversation that no one will understand today. If you have the Internet you can go anywhere you want, use any service you want. Get a link, connect and enjoy. Unless you live in a country that limits access to the net, but that’s another story. Important, but outside of scope right now.

We already see attempts in the cell phone carrier space to block services. For me, this is clearly showing a gap between the business people that operates the carrier and their customers. The customers believe they bought Internet access. The service provider sold “CarrierY Mobile Data plan”. They still think they have the right to control services, like the original plans-  3G portals where users download content from the service provider, not from the Internet.

IPv6 is a foundation for an Open Internet – now and in the future

This is also a very important discussion. And it’s related to IPv6. If we want to have an alternative Internet where we can reach any service independently of our access providers, IPv4 can’t take the growth. The net will be fragmented and evolve into something controlled by the companies operating the gateways between the good old IPv4 and the core Internet. They will add services that only their customers can reach and try to control the services. If they also sell TV channels, why let you reach TV channels over Internet? That’s bad for their revenue stream. If they sell telephony, why let you select your services providers over the Internet? It’s bad for their revenue stream. With the fragmented IPv4 network, we’re making it easier for them to control the services, because they will be required to set up gateways and operate them.

If IPv4 will still be around – what’s the role of IPv6?

IPv6 is the growth area of the Internet. It will run alongside IPv4 for many years, but at some point in the future – maybe 10 years from now – a majority of the Internet will operate on IPv6. And a large part of it will be IPv6 ONLY. You don’t want to be left on the smaller, non-growing side of the Internet. And you do not want to be controlled by your service provider. Which means that you want IPv6 Internet access to your network. Sooner rather than later.

A problem in the argumentation is that there are very few short term financial benefits for enterprises to implement IPv6. But if you agree with me, that there’s no other future for the Internet and IP networks, it’s a natural conclusion that enterprise networks will have to change. So instead of creating one very costly IPv6-project, I strongly suggest that enterprises start with training then integrate IPv6 in all new network-related projects. There’s no flag day, but the work needs to begin yesterday.

Remember why the Internet won the battle for E-services

Before the Internet, there was Videotex, Prestel and many other services – walled gardens. They offered services to their customers, but there was very little exchange of data between them. A content provider had to sign a deal with one or several service providers to deliver content to a specific user base. The Internet wasn’t the only service for e-mail, information databases and other e-services. There where plenty around.

The Internet delivered a new business model. By forcing service providers to interconnect, a content provider could connect to one of them and reach all users, on all service provider networks. The user got a larger selection of services that wasn’t related to business agreements with their particular service provider. This gave the service providers a larger set of services provided to their users, and the users the ability to select service providers independently of a particular web site. For a new generation of users, this is the only model.

The old walled garden services either died or changed themselves to adopt to the Internet business model.

The Internet needs you.

Join the Internet Society Today!We still have to fight for the Open Internet model. All the time. There’s no established formal definition of “Internet access”. Service providers are trying to change the definition and limit access all the time. The last one out is Swedish Telia who wants to block VoIP services on their cell phone data network, because it affects their telephony revenues.It’s natural for them to try to protect their revenue stream. The big problem is that they failed to understand their users who do not understand how an audio chat during a game affects the carrier’s telephony revenues. Or why the carrier limits the access to the Internet at all.

There’s one worldwide organization that works with this, and that promotes IPv6 heavily. The Internet Society. Join your local chapter today! Start with visiting their Deploy360 site (about IPv6, DNSsec and much more) and dont’ forget to read the Q&A with the new Swedish Chair of the Internet Society – Eva Frölich!

Please don’t forget that the IPv6 issue is related to the Open Internet. IPv4 just can’t take it any more. It’s time to say “So long, and thanks for all the fish!

Have a great IPv6 Friday!


PS: This blog post all came to my head after reading this article. Good reading if you want to learn arguments against IPv6 deployment (and get frustrated). Thanks to Randy for sending me a pointer to it.