SgCarMart Future-Proofs its Business with IPv6 

Top Automotive Website Gets Ahead of the Internet Race by Reaching Out to IPv6


 Tan Jinglun (left), IT director of SgCarMart and Derrick Lim (right), the assistant IT manager

Tan Jinglun (left), IT director of SgCarMart and Derrick Lim (right), the assistant IT manager.

As the largest automotive website in Singapore, SgCarMart (www.sgcarmart.com) was convinced of the need to upgrade its website to support IPv6. With the depletion of IPv4 addresses in the Asia-Pacific region, SgCarMart started migrating to IPv6 in September 2011, said its IT director Tan Jinglun.

SgCarMart took about six months to upgrade its network, and now has the ability to offer existing IPv4 services on an IPv6 network. It adopted the common dual-stack migration method that allows IPv6 hosts and routers to co-exist with IPv4 systems, making sure its online services can service users from both IPv4 and IPv6 networks.

Since its humble beginning as a three-man team in mid 2004, SgCarMart has steadily progressed and grown to a vibrant and dynamic company with 40 employees. The website now boasts 34.8 million page views and over 630,000 unique visitors a month.

IPv6 - Imperative to Business Continuity and Growth

For online companies such as SgCarMart, whose lifelines depend on Internet, the primary motivation for making the switch to IPv6 is clear: with IPv6, businesses can be assured that their services will continue to be accessible to customers when the next-generation Internet addressing system becomes prevalent.

"Our users will eventually move over to IPv6 so if we don't support the technology, they won't be able to access our website in future," Tan said. "From a business perspective, supporting IPv6 also means we won't have to worry about running out of Internet addresses when we roll out new services," he added.

With IPv4 addresses running out, some companies have been scooping up any remaining addresses which are fast becoming scarce and expensive resources. Last year, software giant Microsoft purchased over 660,000 IPv4 addresses from Nortel Networks for US$7.5 million (or US$11.25 for one IPv4 address). By migrating to IPv6, SgCarMart can also avoid paying hefty fees to secure IPv4 addresses - which are now being traded on unofficial market channels - and maintain its competitive advantage.

In addition, SgCarMart is also exploring business opportunities in Indonesia and other emerging markets. Upgrading its networks to IPv6 also allows SgCarMart to tap on those markets where IPv6 adoption is expected to accelerate. China, for example, already has the second most number of IPv6 addresses in the world after Japan, according to figures from Telecom SudParis, a graduate engineering school based in France. The number of IPv6 connections allocated to India has also grown by over 120 per cent over the past decade, according to the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC).

Moving to IPv6 will also allow SgCarMart to maintain its lead over its competitors. SgCarMart currently tops the 30 automotive websites frequently visited by local audiences, according to a 2012 Hitwise industry report.

Deployment Challenges

SgCarMart first came to know about the need to migrate to IPv6 through IDA's IPv6 Transition Programme. SgCarMart is currently in the midst of its IPv6 transition. Derrick Lim, SgCarMart's assistant IT manager, revealed that some of the challenges they faced include getting familiar with the long addresses and lack of IPv6 reference industry deployments. "We also have to ensure our existing IPv4 hardware and software will continue to work after IPv6 was introduced into their system," said Lim, who relies on information on the Internet to learn more about IPv6 migration issues.

Although IPv6 has been designed to enable ease of security implementation (e.g. IPSEC is a built-in feature of IPv6), it is a relatively new technology where mitigation mechanisms against cyber threats are still in the works. For example, like IPv4 websites, IPv6 websites have also become targets for denial-of-service attacks that attempt to flood computers with high volumes of Internet traffic, Lim said.

Migrate Early to Reap IPv6 Benefits

On the state of IPv6 adoption among Singapore companies, Tan said: "Businesses are not looking at IPv6 right now because most of them are not facing the full impact of an IPv4 address crunch". However, he added that more companies are likely to sit up when their businesses take hit when IPv4 fully depleted and no more IPv4 addresses can be acquired".

Experts generally agree that there are economic benefits of migrating to IPv6 sooner than later. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce Technology Administration, companies can reduce costs in network downtime by taking advantage of IPv6's end-to-end architecture. The technology's built-in quality-of-service (QoS) capability also lets enterprises take advantage of applications that demand near real-time, interactive and peer-to-peer connectivity, such as Voice-over-IP (VoIP) calls, video conferencing and remote collaboration tools. For example, the switch to VoIP calls from conventional circuit-switched telephone calls could save enterprises 20 per cent or more on telephony expenditures.

Companies can reap these benefits by migrating to IPv6 early. By doing so, they can afford to take the necessary time to plan, implement and fine-tune their networks rather than scramble to set up a sub-optimal new network later when in face of the IPv4 full exhaustion problem.

To help companies get up to speed with IPv6, IDA has developed an IPv6 Transition Programme microsite (www.ida.gov.sg/ipv6) that offers a wide range of information and resources. The IPv6 Market Place, for example, provides organisations with information on IPv6-ready products, consultancy and training services that are available in Singapore.

Tan said: "The information provided by IDA's IPv6 Transition Programme is certainly helpful for companies who may not know how to start migrating to IPv6. The product marketplace is also useful for companies that are sourcing for the right products and support".

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31 August 2011 - The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) is leading a national effort to build up a pool of IPv6-trained manpower in Singapore, to ensure that the country's ICT industry is well-positioned to take advantage of new opportunities in the IPv6 world.

With the depletion of IPv4 addresses, the Internet community will be moving towards adopting IPv6 technologies. In view of this, IDA sees the need to develop a local pool of IPv6 competent workforce, to support IPv6 adoption.

IDA recently called for a tender to identify a training provider to deliver IPv6 knowledge and skills training to two key target groups - the current workforce of ICT professionals, and the future workforce which comprises students from institutes of higher learning (IHLs) such as the universities, polytechnics and Institutes of Technical Education.

For the current workforce which includes network planners, network administrators and other ICT professionals, the aim is to provide certified IPv6 training courses to ensure that they are equipped with the necessary IPv6 skills to handle IPv6 related tasks such as administration, IPv6 implementation and operational tasks. The courses will cover topics such as IPv6 packet generation and detection, network configuration, IPv6 routing protocols, and steps to migrate to IPv6. Each training programme will include theory, a hands-on component, and an examination.

In addition to this cohort, IDA is also targeting to train ICT professionals to become IPv6-certified trainers who will, in turn, be able to conduct IPv6 courses to train more ICT professionals with IPv6 skills and to develop their own courseware if required.

For the second target group - the students - IDA's main aim is to ensure that they are equipped with IPv6 knowledge prior to joining the IT workforce. This target group will be able to handle IPv6-related tasks and job requirements upon graduation. To deliver this, the training provider will have to develop an IPv6 training programme consisting of IPv6 course modules and an evaluation quiz to be offered to the IHLs.

"We would like to see the training provider establish strong collaborations with the various IHLs and to deliver IPv6 training using various mechanisms, for example, incorporating IPv6 modules into the existing school curriculum, conducting IPv6 workshops or organising industry-sharing sessions on IPv6 implementation experiences," said Mr Eddy Leong, Manager, IPv6 task force at IDA.

Students targeted will be drawn mainly from second and third-year polytechnic students, especially those pursuing diplomas in information technology or network systems, as well as university students doing relevant networking or ICT modules under Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Computer Engineering.

IDA targets to train a sizeable pool of ICT professionals and students over the next two years.

The IPv6 Competency Tender, which was closed in August, has been awarded to Progreso Networks.

Source: http://www.ida.gov.sg/Technology/20110831122738.aspx

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Adoption Guide Outlines Strategy for IPv6 Transition

13 April 2011 - An IPv6 adoption guide has been developed for various stakeholders in the IPv6 ecosystem as part of efforts by IDA to drive IPv6 adoption in Singapore and to encourage efficient use of the remaining pool of IPv4 addresses to minimise the risks of depletion. The guide was produced as part of the second phase of an in-depth study commissioned by IDA to shed light on the current status of IPv6 adoption in Singapore and provide guidance in formulating the next steps. The study was conducted by Analysys Mason and Tech Mahindra.

Speaking at the IPv6 Technical Conference on 13 April 2011, Mr Tony Haigh, Project Director with Analysys Mason, noted that there has been limited adoption of IPv6 due to the lack of hard deadlines and the existence of acceptable workarounds such as NAT (network address translation) and DHCP (dynamic host configuration protocol). There has also been a lack of understanding of the business and financial benefits of adopting IPv6.

"IPv6 is not just a technical issue, it is also a commercial issue," said Mr Haigh. "IPv6 adoption is important if Singapore is to maintain its position in the global IP ecosystem. The impact on economic growth can be quite severe if IPv6 adoption is limited."

The adoption guide aims to offer pragmatic advice on the sequence of events each stakeholder group should go through to achieve IPv6 readiness. The stakeholder categories are: system vendors, Internet service providers, network providers, service providers and end users.

According to Mr Haigh, the activities to enable IPv6 transition follow a broadly similar sequence for all the groups.

The first stage is planning, which involves raising IPv6 awareness and identifying products, applications and services that are required to operate in an IPv6 environment. "IP is used in a lot of places, for example, in embedded operating systems and machine-to-machine applications. Some of these may not be IPv6 compatible, so we have to check all the systems."

The second stage, architecture and design, involves making detailed architecture/design changes to IPv6-enable hardware, systems and applications. This is followed by the implementation of the IPv6 transition plan. The fourth stage - support - is where the necessary processes and procedures are put in place to support IPv6 products, services and applications after their implementation.

For the different stakeholders, there will be variations in the time scale for each stage. System vendors, for example, potentially have the longest lead time depending on product complexity. However, all the stakeholder groups interconnect, and there are many technical and financial interdependencies throughout the ecosystem. "The implementation timing must reflect these relationships," said Mr Haigh. "The ecosystem is quite complex. Everything needs to move together."

Source: http://www.ida.gov.sg/Technology/20110414110718.aspx

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