One could feel the excitement building as June 6, 2012, approached. This was to be World IPv6 Launch Day, the day the Internet Society would replace the old IPv4 with a new, permanent Internet address protocol. While heavy hitters like Bing, Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Comcast and AT&T joined the parade, few others noticed the event.

How could that be? In 2011 and early 2012, the government world was abuzz with concerns about the impending need for a new protocol. As June 6 approached, “there was a feeling that we were going to be cut off,” said Alan Shark, executive director of the Public Technology Institute, a nonprofit that focuses on using IT to improve government services.

But the big day came and went quietly. “And when the hype evaporated, things just continued on,” Shark said. “We found out that the world is still round. We did not fall off.”

With the world still turning, the sense of urgency has cooled — but that doesn’t mean state governments are ignoring the issue. Some are taking steps to migrate to the new protocol.

Playing the Numbers

What exactly is the issue?

For a long time it seemed IPv4’s 4.3 billion available addresses would be ample enough to identify any Internet-enabled device that might come along. This turned out not to be true: By 2011, virtually every IPv4 address had been assigned for distribution by various world bodies. Many of these numbers are still available, but no one is making any more.

The run on addresses was partly due to the proliferation of devices — all the phones, tablets, elevators, intercoms and so on that have been plugging into the Internet in recent years. As the replacement protocol, IPv6 promises to accommodate all these and more, bringing to the scene 18 quintillion blocks of 18 quintillion possible addresses.

Once the IPv4s are gone, users will begin receiving addresses in the new protocol, and herein lies the problem for governments and other organizations. There’s concern that if a body does not upgrade its infrastructure to accommodate IPv6, users with the new addresses won’t be able to access public websites running on the IPv4 protocol.

Delaware still has enough IPv4 addresses to meet immediate needs, but that doesn’t make the problem go away.

“We have the capacity for the foreseeable future. We will still use IPv4 internally, but we realize we are going to have to deal with the rest of the world on a different level,” said William Hickox, chief operating officer of the Delaware Department of Technology and Information.

During this transitional period, Hickox is planning for a twofold system: IPv4 internally, and IPv6 for everything outside the firewall. This will involve implementing translation mechanisms that can navigate between the two protocols.

Without such a dual-capable system, users could encounter roadblocks as they try to navigate state websites. “The challenge becomes, if you are reaching out to someone who no longer supports IPv4, you wouldn’t be able to reach the person,” he said. “It’s not going to happen anytime soon, but we want to be prepared in the event that gets to be the case.”

Early Lead

Some say they are already prepared. Utah got a jump on the issue, with planners beginning to sort out their strategy five years ago. It was the education sector that got the ball rolling, as officials in that arena realized that their IPv4 allotment from the American Registry for Internet Numbers wouldn’t last forever. Leaders from public and higher education sat down with state and local government representatives to chart a course.

The state still had hundreds of thousands of IPv4 addresses to use overall, but some entities were starting to run low. “Some of our school districts and universities were getting close to using up what they had been allocated,” said Utah CTO David Fletcher.


The rest of the conversion has been more a matter of people than policies. “You do have to be able to configure your routers and address tables with these larger addresses, but that’s not something that’s giving us a lot of concern,” Fletcher said. “It is just about making the time and putting together the people. If you have good people in place, you are going to be ahead of the game.”The move toward the new protocol began with the development of new policies. Planners took a full year to determine how addresses would be allocated and managed, including management of the remaining IPv4 numbers. Given the vast supply of new addresses under IPv6, Fletcher imagines these policies could govern state actions for at least a century to come.

Phasing In

In the California Office of Technology Services, Director Ron Hughes considers himself well ahead of the game.

Over the past two to three years, every scheduled equipment replacement has led to a new IPv6-capable tool entering the fold. All routers, for example, have now tested IPv6 compliant. “We’re ready to make the change,” Hughes said. (The full implementation of IPv6 will come in two to three years when the remaining few hundred thousand IPv4 addresses in Hughes’ office have been used.)

The change is inevitable, he said. “It is becoming an issue because of the use of mobile devices, as those become more prevalent in the workplace.”

By taking a phased approach, timed to coincide with an existing four- to five-year refresh cycle, Hughes said he incurred no extra costs in transitioning his systems to IPv6-ready capacity. “If you’re trying to do it in a hurry, there is going to be a cost to replacing perfectly good gear with gear that is IPv6 compliant. We chose not to do it that way,” he said.

There may be other costs down the road, such as training, upgrades to custom software, documentation and administrative expenses. But for Hughes, the only major challenge to implementation has been the sometimes time-consuming business of testing. “It’s not a seamless thing where you put in IPv6 equipment and suddenly you are up and running,” he said.

Technical Hurdles

There undoubtedly will be growing pains as IPv6 gains traction, said John Curran, president and CEO of the address distribution entity American Registry for Internet Numbers. “The Internet is growing with IPv6, and that requires changes,” he said.

Take, for instance, a typical scenario in which a provider sets up a bridge using temporary IPv4 addresses in order to allow IPv6-enabled visitors to fully access a government’s IPv4-based website. It works, in so far as granting access, but the site’s operators lose crucial transparency. With the “fake” address located in the carrier’s hub, “now you see all your customers coming from one location in Virginia,” Curran said.

Such temporary-address schemes also can muddle customer validation. The system may legitimately validate one customer, but that approval may open the floodgates for others on the same temporary address. “Unless you are very careful, you may find out that when one person logs into your application, you have now allowed 1,000 cellphones to log on,” Curran said.

Provider-deployed temporary addresses aren’t the only way to bridge the gap between users operating in the IPv6 world and a system still functioning in the IPv4 paradigm. Another common solution lies in “dual stacking,” said Richard Jimmerson, director of deployment and operationalization at the Internet Society. This involves creating essentially redundant systems that can simultaneously accommodate either protocol.

For those looking to go this route, the general idea is to take a phased approach in which one first enables TCP-IP protocol stacks on core routers. Next come the routers on the perimeter, followed by data center routers and eventually desktop-access routers. “You want to do it in stages,” Jimmerson said. “You don’t go into your entire network and replace the address in every device. You maintain your IPv4 infrastructure, but you add access to IPv6.”

While dual stacking has been proven successful, it has its hazards. Some have noted, for example, that much VPN client and server software is not yet ready to adapt to IPv6. As a result, dual-stacked hosts may be vulnerable to security breaches, for example, through VPN traffic leaks.

Despite such hurdles, Jimmerson predicted that dual stacking will be the most popular solution for the foreseeable future. “We are moving into the world where we are going to have a dual-stacked Internet,” he said. “If I was an agency inside a state government, my priority would be to at least take my primary forms of network communications that my citizens use and make those IPv6 capable.”

The alternative scenario: A citizen cannot access government systems for vital services or information. “You certainly don’t want to have that happen,” Jimmerson said.

That’s one reason to make the switch: user/provider incompatibility. Another more basic driver is the simple fact of IPv4 running dry. Together these were enough to raise a hue and cry a couple of years ago. So why have things gone so quiet? Whither the crisis?

Easing the Tension

Delaware’s Hickox sees a few reasons for the echoing silence. In the first place, cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS) are taking the pressure off by reducing the number of devices needed in government. “The industry is going to SaaS-type solutions, and in the SaaS model you are replacing internal servers, internal infrastructure, with a single address point,” he said. His department has begun signing SaaS contracts, “and we are looking to have a lot more.”

In addition, Hickox noted that a seemingly endless recession also has taken the heat off. “It is driven by economics. If you have economies that are booming, businesses that are starting or businesses that are growing, there will be an increased need,” he said. Government too would feel the pressure of economic expansion, however, he said that hasn’t happened yet.

More to the point, the world keeps turning, despite having nominally run out of IPv4 addresses. The fact is that many of the addresses already out there still have not been put into use. There’s still a long way to go before the last IPv4 address has actually been assigned to a device.

As a result, the Internet still works; devices still work. Government IT is functioning as well as ever. “So people feel like they still have time,” Jimmerson said. “They are still hedging their bets about when they have to do it.”  

By Adam Stone

Source: http://www.govtech.com/wireless/What-Happened-to-IPv6.html

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Denver, CO (PRWEB) March 20, 2013 - The Rocky Mountain Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) Task Force (RMv6TF), in conjunction with Regional North America IPv6 Task Forces, announced keynote speakers for the upcoming North American IPv6 Summit in Denver on April 17-19, will include Latif Ladid, President, IPv6 Forum and Google Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf.

This year’s keynote covered by Ladid and Cerf explains why the big shift to IPv6 Internet is on by default. “When a protocol is on by default,” explains Ladid, “vendor readiness, network readiness, and service enablement become critical. The issue now is can IPv6 be treated like IPv4. The service providers with advanced deployment experiences have discovered that IPv6 is a totally different networking paradigm.”

Cerf, who is recognized as one of “the fathers of the Internet” will address the audience via video from Silicon Valley. Cerf will discuss The Adoption of the Internet of Things, and how the Internet impacts on our daily life with the plethora of new services and how security and privacy should be managed.

Additionally, the speaker lineup covers compelling trends and discoveries made regarding IPv6 deployments, and looks closely at the highly discussed topic of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), one of the foremost reasons for the essential transition to IPv6. Featured keynote speakers will address topics including the Do’s and Don’ts of IPv6 Transitions, Enterprise Deployments and overall best practices.

“This year’s speaker lineup offer up compelling information and insights on the transition to IPv6,” said Scott Hogg, Chair-Emeritus, RMv6T. “The world is experiencing an explosion of IP connected devices through BYOD in business as well as homes. There are simply not enough IP addresses to sustain commerce as we know it on the IPv4 platform. This lineup of speakers will help ensure the world is ready.”

Hogg added, “In time, every business, large and small who wants to continue to conduct business over the Internet will have to migrate to IPv6. It’s imperative that those managing that transition know how to do it fast, and as seamlessly as possible.”

The speaker list and agenda are now available. Registration for the conference is open to anyone who would like to attend. A newly added Government panel will look at current IPv6 adoption levels in the US Government, learn how real deployments are being impacted and hear how some government agencies are making the most of the IPv6 transition process. This half-day session will also be available to those who cannot attend in-person via Webex.

Additionally, the conference will also host a full day of pre-conference tutorials at a small additional fee for attendees looking for training and development on IPv6. An Introduction course, Security Course and Advanced training class are offered. Registration for tutorials is open and will take place on April 17, 2013.

Source: http://www.hostreview.com/news/130320-2013-ipv6-summit-keynote-the-big-shift-to-ipv6-is-on-by-default

 

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Mesh-networking standard ZigBee now has support for IP, allowing embedded devices (from 'leccy meters to lightbulbs) to be directly addressed as long as the addresser is using IPv6.

The new extension to the standard, ZigBee IP, has been created at the behest of utilities and will be integrated into the next version of the ZigBee Smart Energy profile. That profile is already being used by utilities in California and Texas and permits utilities to control energy consumption, but version two will extend those capabilities and, with ZigBee IP, make them internet friendly.

Zigee is a low-power mesh-networking protocol. Devices supporting the standard can be addressed and also relay messages to devices which would otherwise be beyond range. The mesh is thus self-forming and the ZigBee Alliance would like our homes to be awash with nodes linking back to our electricity meter or other hub.

Philips Hue light bulbs use ZigBee, very successfully, though for now only the controlling hub can be addressed with an IP connection - and it's version four. ZigBee IP is a version six standard, which is essential if there is really going to be an Internet of Things linking 50 billion devices, which is the number currently being bandied about.

IPv4 addresses are running out, with ISPs already sharing them between broadband customers even while they're online. Linking up every dishwasher, hoover and light bulb in the world is going to need the next version, which those devices supporting ZigBee Smart Energy will get.

Connecting up all those devices is the first step towards such plans as relinquishing control of them to the electricity supplier, who gains the power to pull the plug when demand peaks - hopefully offering you something in exchange, such as a lower tariff. Handing over control of one's fridge to the utility company might be scary, but it would allow the nation to get past the early-evening demand peak with a power station or so fewer and so there's money in it.

But that might not be enough to make it acceptable, and ZigBee Smart Power will, apparently, have a host of other uses. ®

By Bill Ray

Source: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/03/29/zigbee_ip/

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