Words from the IAB Chair

By: Olaf Kolkman

Date: October 7, 2008

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olaf kolkman
Olaf Kolkman, IAB Chair

“To the universal deployment of IPv6″ is the toast to which some of our colleagues have raised their glasses for nearly 10 years. That toast can be heard during unofficial events and gatherings at IETF meetings that have taken place since IETF 43, when, after an IPng working group session, some folks retreated to empty a few bottles of Scotch. The relevance of this factoid is linked to the technical plenary at IETF 72, during which the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) expressed interest in IPv6 deployment issues.

In the context of the emerging completion of the IANA IPv4 registry, the IAB asked itself a number of questions such as, What are the actual deployment barriers in various environments ranging from Internet service providers (ISPs) to application service providers, to business enterprises, to end users? What are the approaches toward IPv4 completion contingency planning? What are the success factors inherent in the actual deployment of IPv6? and, What can the IAB do to hasten IPv6′s deployment?

With those questions in mind, the IAB organized a plenary discussion to which we invited a number of folks who have key roles in the deployment of IPv6 in their organizations. Our intention was not only to try to address the questions asked here but also to inspire participants to go back home and assess how they could play their part in an IPv6 rollout. A report by the moderator, Gregory Lebovitz, appears on page 17.

comic depicting peer to peer connection

“On a personal note, it was difficult to find engineers who could shine a light on the deployment issues within business enterprises. I wonder how much that has to do with the fact that IPv6 has not yet made it onto those corporations’ agendas. To a certain extent, I understand how deployment of a new IP address family might not make it onto the agenda. It shouldn’t have to; IP infrastructure should just work. However, I find it hard to believe that at the chief technology officer (CTO) level, no conscious decision has been made about how to move forward with IPv4. It seems clear to me that as soon as IANA’s IPv4 registry is completed, the landscape of IPv4 allocation and assignment is going to change. If I were a CTO, it would make sense to me to have already made an analysis of how to move forward within that landscape. Could it be that CTOs are not tuned in to the issue? An entirely different and somewhat plausible explanation for the difficulty in finding engineers with experience in enterprise-scale IPv6 deployment is that those engineers are not participating in the IETF. The root cause for both of those explanations may be that IP addressing is a typical ISP issue and that engineers at ISPs may be more attuned to IPv4 address completion than are their counterparts in the business enterprises sector.

These personal musings aside, the IAB is interested in hearing more adoption stories, specifically those in which barriers were encountered and overcome. We also want to hear about barriers that persist-especially those cases in which some IETF-related work might help, whether it’s a protocol, a best-current-practices document, informational material, or experimental work. In a future plenary we plan to report on both the lessons and the outstanding issues that we learned from those stories. Please send your stories to [email protected]. If your story speaks best to universal adoption of IPv6, then the tradition described in the first paragraph will be honoured and you will be provided with either a bottle of single-malt Scotch or a nonalcoholic beverage of your choice.