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2017 North American IPv6 Summit: Highlights and History

There have been many IPv6 conferences over the past 15 years, but this year’s North American IPv6 Summit was something special.  There was much rejoicing over the growth in IPv6 usage and celebration of many successful IPv6 deployments.  This article will share with you the history of the event and the organizers behind this conference.  […]

There have been many IPv6 conferences over the past 15 years, but this year’s North American IPv6 Summit was something special.  There was much rejoicing over the growth in IPv6 usage and celebration of many successful IPv6 deployments.  This article will share with you the history of the event and the organizers behind this conference.  This article will recap the details of the event and the fantastic presentations that were given and where you can go to watch the video replay.

History of the North American IPv6 Task Force

As the IETF was finishing up their exploratory work on IP next generation (IPng) and finalizing the initial draft of the IPv6 RFC, it became clear that the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 would not be trivial.  Organizations started to form to help with the transition by bringing together like-minded people who wanted to work on furthering IPv6 adoption.

Most notably, the IPv6 Forum was founded in 1999 as a central organization to coordinate a worldwide effort to adopt IPv6.  Today, most countries in the world have some form of an IPv6 task force.  For example, the North American IPv6 Task Force (NAv6TF) was first formed in 2001.  The group had a high activity level at the time as IPv6 was being tested and planned for by the U.S. federal government and service providers.  For many years, the NAv6TF was led by Jim Bound, and they hosted many events and meetings.  Tragically, Jim Bound passed away in 2009 (almost exactly 9 years ago), but he is still remembered to this day for his passion for IPv6.

Jim Bound had many ideas for how IPv6 task forces should operate.  Among these included how the groups should keep IPv6 in the academic realm, free from undue corporate influence.  The IPv6 community should adhere to the original principles of an open and free Internet.  The IPv6 groups should be volunteer teams and avoid payment for being involved in IPv6 research, development or evangelism.  The goal was to avoid having money influence the IPv6 adoption process.

After Jim’s passing, there was a significant hole in the IPv6 community in North America as there was no one who could replace Jim.  Individual IPv6 task forces within North America started to form, starting with the MidAtlantic IPv6 Task Force and the California IPv6 Task Force.  These groups were followed by IPv6 Forum Mexico, IPv6 Canada, the Rocky Mountain IPv6 Task Force and the Texas IPv6 Task Force.  Here is a map of how the North American IPv6 Task Forces cover the continent.

2017 North American IPv6 Summit

A decade ago, there was a distinct lack of IPv6 training opportunities, but now there are more IPv6 training resources available.  But while there may be more IPv6 books and more online classes and how-to guides available on the Internet, there are fewer IPv6 conferences than occurred a decade ago.  Training staff prior to an IPv6 deployment is critical to the success of the project.  Our very own Infoblox IPv6 COE colleague, Ed Horley, laid out his 6-phases for IPv6 adoption and Phase 2 focused on IPv6 training.  The last North American IPv6 Summit was in Denver Colorado in 2015 so it has been 2 years since the last major IPv6 conference in this region.  That is why this year’s North American IPv6 Summit was such a highly-anticipated event.

This year’s IPv6 Summit event was a 2-day event focused on the accomplishments that have been made in recent years that have driven the accelerating growth in IPv6 Internet traffic.  The event celebrated the hard work performed by broadband service providers, mobile carriers, online content providers, content distribution networks, equipment manufacturers, operating system manufacturers, and numerous other organizations.

This year’s North American IPv6 Summit was hosted at LinkedIn’s headquarters in Sunnyvale California.  The LinkedIn facility was a comfortable setting to host an educational and collaborative confluence of IPv6 enthusiasts and experts.  There were many highlights from the agenda, as well as amazing keynote presentations, food, fun, and comradery.  Prevalent themes were increasing Internet IPv6 adoption, organizations sharing their deployment experience and organizations deploying IPv6-only networks.

Keynote Presentations

The IPv6 Summit event had three fantastic keynote presentations.

The first keynote presentation of the IPv6 Summit was by Tony Scott, with the TonyScottGroup.  Tony was formerly appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as the third Federal Chief Information Officer of the United States and Tony was also formerly the CIO of Microsoft.  Tony discussed the evolution of technology and the parallels to his career.  Tony spoke about IPv6 adoption in the federal government and the effectiveness of technical mandates, such as IPv6.

The second keynote presentation was delivered by John Curran, the President and CEO of the American Registry of Internet Numbers (ARIN).  John gave a history lesson of the original ideals that IP next generation (IPng) was created and how they have metamorphosed over the past two decades.  His conclusion was that the ultimate goal is to “build a better Internet”, not just add more IP addresses with IPv6.  John also spoke about how many Internet users fear technological complexity and are scared about using the Internet.  Can we make the IPv6 Internet a “better Internet” that is more secure and runs better?  The call to action to the audience was to produce an Internet using IPv6 that is more friendly and robust.

The third keynote presentation we given by Franck Martin, of LinkedIn.  Franck spoke about the journey LinkedIn has made to adopt IPv6 in their internal systems for their public social networking service.  He spoke about how they organized their IPv6 adoption efforts and the resulting growth in IPv6 traffic that LinkedIn has witnessed over the past three years.  LinkedIn has performed extensive network testing and their telemetry data has confirmed that IPv6 can be faster than IPv4.  He went through the technical considerations for IPv6 across their three pillars: Network, Hardware, and Software.  He covered the IPv6 deployment issues and best practices related to each of these pillars.  Franck concluded by stating that LinkedIn’s IPv6 team aims to dispose of IPv4 and solely focus on IPv6 in the coming years.

Prevalent Theme: IPv6 Adoption Growth

IPv6 pundits (like those in our very own Infoblox IPv6 COE) often show graphs charting the progress of IPv6 usage. The IPv6 Summit presentations continued this practice.  At the IPv6 summit, there were several presentations of success stories of IPv6 adoption and growing worldwide IPv6 traffic volumes.

Dani Grant, with CloudFlare, spoke about their CDN encouraging customers to deploy IPv6 and setting it on by default for new and current customers.  From their perspective, as one of the largest Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), they do see DDoS attacks over both IP versions.  Her presentation shared a lot of data about their current IPv6 traffic sources and destinations.  Dani also mentioned some interesting work they are doing with contemplating the separation of A and AAAA queries and a new IETF draft they have written.

On Wednesday, Owen DeLong, from Akamai, gave historical background on the transition to IPv6.  Owen also showed many graphs of IPv6 traffic from the worldwide Akamai network perspective.  Owen mentioned that Akamai is now serving over 1 Billion IPv6 requests/day and that their IPv6 traffic has peaked at 2 Tbps.  To see the most current IPv6 statistics from Akamai, go visit their State of the Internet site for IPv6.

The IPv6 Forum and the North American IPv6 Task Forces recognized those top service providers who had exceeded IPv6-enabling 20% of their subscriber popula….  The service providers that were awarded this Jim Bound award were (in alphabetical order): AT&T, Charter, Comcast, Cox Communications, Google Fiber, Hughes Net, Midco, Rogers (Canada), Sprint, TELUS (Canada), T-Mobile, and Verizon.

Prevalent Theme: IPv6 Deployment Experience

There were many presentations at the IPv6 Summit that covered best practices and lessons learned from deploying IPv6.  Certainly, Franck Martin’s keynote contained many of these ideas.  There were also service providers who spoke at the IPv6 Summit speaking about deploying IPv6-only networks.

Tom Coffeen, IPv6 Evangelist and Distinguished Architect at Infoblox and IPv6 COE lead, gave a presentation on his favorite topic: IPv6 address planning.  Tom spoke about the astronomical size of IPv6 and how to avoid IPv4-scarcity mentality when planning for IPv6.  He re-iterated how IPv6 prefixes should be laid out simply and can scale to massive environments.  Tom then lead the audience through a multinational organization’s IPv6 addressing case study to reinforce these concepts.  For further details on the best practices for IPv6 address planning, you can explore his O’Reilly Media book on the topic.

On Tuesday, Rob Barton, Principal Systems Engineer from Cisco, gave a presentation on IoT and IPv6.  Rob provided background on IoT communications technologies and described the nexus with IPv6.  He described their building in Toronto Ontario that uses the Cisco Digital Ceiling industrial lighting technology that leverages IPv6.  Rob described many IPv6 IoT networking protocols and how MAP-T can support SmartGrid applications.  Rob then described the case study of BC Hydro in Vancouver British Columbia Canada and how they were able to IPv6-enable millions of smart meters resulting in a simpler and faster mesh network.  This was a great update to the presentation that was given at the 2014 IPv6 Summit by BC Hydro.

Veronika Millkop, Network Architect at Microsoft, gave a presentation on Microsoft’s own internal journey to IPv6.  IPv6 testing and deployment first started at Microsoft in 2001, but Microsoft started to internally deploy IPv6 via ISATAP in 2006 to support IPv6 software and OS development.  Veronika re-iterated the adage that “dual stack is IPv6 half done” and their plans were to move to a single-protocol network.  Microsoft currently has two IPv6-only networks: one for wireless guests and the other for internal connectivity using NAT64/DNS64.  Their preference to start with wireless guest services to set up IPv6-only was driven by the fact that this environment is much simpler and gives them good information about anything that may have difficulty working in an IPv6-only environment.  Now Microsoft Windows 10 supports DHCPv6 and RDNSS, but they must continue to support SLAAC for any Android devices that may be used in their environment.  Microsoft is now starting to contemplate disabling IPv4 in future products.  Veronica also spoke about the UK IPv6 Council and the issues remaining for IPv6

Dr. David Holder, founder and chief consultant at Erion Ltd. and leader of the IPv6 Task Force Scotland, gave a presentation about his research on the viability of Carrier Grade NAT (CGN).  He described the issues resulting from moving the public IPv4 address further away from the end-user and the application challenges of CGN.  All these CGN limitations are just more reasons to deploy IPv6 to restore native end-to-end communication.

Shannon McFarland, Distinguished Engineer with Cisco and RMv6TF member, gave a presentation on IPv6 in cloud technologies and how organizations build and use cloud infrastructures.  Shannon reviewed how IPv6 is used in commercial IaaS cloud services, what IPv6 capabilities are in private cloud platforms, and in container-based systems.  Shannon gave a live demonstration showing how templates and OpenStack can be used to rapidly deploy services that have IPv6 connectivity.  Shannon talked about the caveats of addressing server instances upon bootup and the other remaining IPv6 features cloud customers require.  For more information on the technical details, please refer to his blog.

Kevin Jones, NASA IPv6 Transition Manager, gave a presentation, from the U.S. Federal perspective, how IPv6 is being adopted in those department and agency enterprise networks.  He went through a brief review of the IPv6 mandates and target dates for IPv6 deployment.  Kevin spoke about how the U.S. Federal teams are collaborating, documenting, and organizing their IPv6 deployment efforts.  Kevin discussed the NASA IPv6 planning items and their activities related to forming teams, training, working on IPv6 addressing plans, and tracking progress on goals.  Kevin also showed how the NIST Advanced Network Technologies Division are tracking federal organizations IPv6 deployment status.  A resource that any enterprise can leverage is the NIST special publication titled “A Profile for IPv6 in the U.S. Government – Version 1.0” (SP 500-267).

Prevalent Theme: IPv6-Only

Contributors to the Infoblox IPv6 Center of Excellence community blog have written much about operating a single-protocol IPv6-only networked environment.  Ed Horley recently wrote about “The road to IPv6-only in the Enterprise Data Center” and “The ideas behind IPv6-only”.  Tom Coffeen has written about IPv4 becoming the “legacy protocol” and I jokingly wrote about the terms No-IPv4 or IPv4less or Simply IPv6-only.  These same sentiments were represented in several of the IPv6 Summit presentations.

Stephan Lagerholm, from T-Mobile and the founder of the TXv6TF, talked about their preference for IPv6 and the fact that their subscribers using iPhones with iOS version 10.3 are operating using IPv6-only.  T-Mobile is now at 84% of their subscribers having IPv6 connectivity.  The last 16% of IPv4-only devices represent older handsets/tablets and some IPv4-only IoT devices as well as other Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) who have not yet deployed IPv6.  Stephan also demonstrated some mobile applications that help with testing IPv6 connectivity.

One of the experiential presentations about actual IPv6 adoption was titled “Journey to IPv6 Campus of the Future” and was presented by Loghs Srinivasan, Mei Fan, and Travis Norling from Cisco.  This presentation was about their experiences enabling Cisco’s San Jose Campus Building 23 (SJC23) as an IPv6-only building.  This project reflected their “Customer Zero” philosophy of testing their own technology in their own IT systems before selling those products to customers.  Building 23 is a 3-story 500-person building with wired and wireless and data center network infrastructure.  They spoke about the end-user engagement, requirements gathering, training and support all through the December 2016 holiday transition to IPv6.

John Brzozowski, Chief Architect, IPv6 and Fellow from Comcast, spoke about their plans to move toward IPv6-only networking, systems and services.  Currently, Comcast is approaching 50% of their Internet traffic delivered via IPv6.  He showed a graph of their X1 entertainment system set top boxes (STBs) with IPv6 connectivity and how the number of IPv4-only STBs has dramatically declined.  He mentioned his personal goal to start to turn off IPv4, but that before Comcast can do so, they need to first minimize and reduce IPv4 dependencies.  Comcast is planning the network for their new Innovation and Technology Center building in Philadelphia and they would like to make that an IPv6-only building.  They are assessing everything that may be connected in that building to assess if it can operate in an IPv6-only wired and wireless network.

Key Takeaways

From this conference, it was undeniably clear that the Internet continues to adopt IPv6 at a high rate.  It is conceivable that IPv6 will overtake IPv4 in the near term.  There were many companies sharing their IPv6 deployment stories and lessons learned.  It was also thrilling to hear from those organizations that are pushing past the dual-stack transition phase into an IPv6-only network environment.

If you are curious to see for yourself the sessions from this conference, you can access this presentation content from the event’s web site.  The video recordings for all the sessions are going to be located here on the Internet.  We hope to see you at the next IPv6 conference.

This post originally appeared on Infoblox community blog: https://community.infoblox.com/t5/IPv6-CoE-Blog/Highlights-from-2017-North-American-IPv6-Summit/ba-p/9671

Scott Hogg is the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for GTRI.

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