Sound the death knell for IPv4

2011 marks the death of Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) but companies and ISPs are largely yet to deploy its successor, IPv6. James Hutchinson looks at the state of the market and what is holding the new protocol back.

Internode's John Lindsay

Internode's John Lindsay

Ahead of the pack

For Melbourne’s Monash University, however, IPv6 is a thing of the past rather than future.

Boasting one of the few comprehensive IPv6 production environments in Australia, the university has seen vastly improved use of the protocol since switching internal access networks across the past two years.

According to John Mann, senior technical consultant at the institution, IPv6-enabled incoming traffic on the Monash Web server has averaged 15 per cent in recent months, while eight per cent of overall incoming traffic is enabled for IPv6.

Monash servers also handle 200GB worth of IPv6-enabled traffic per day, largely from Google where the institution hosts its staff and student email. Mann says the protocol has become useful in keeping traffic afloat more than once when Google’s v4 equivalent became unavailable.

Initially begun as a testing environment for masters’ students in 2002, the university’s foray into the protocol soon became a part of AARNet’s research network GrangeNet, allowing students and staff to test the protocol’s potential uses.

Mann oversaw deployment of the internal environment, carried out between November 2009 and February 2010, accomplished without a set budget from management. As a result, IT was prevented from conducting a ‘rip and replace’ project, instead prioritising IPv6 as part of the regular equipment refresh cycle.

“Management have accepted the need to move to IPv6 but there has been scepticism of the speed required... they lack the sense of urgency required to update all the servers, clients, back-end and security procedures in time,” he says.

The current network, a dual stack environment, is now largely free of the teething problems initially witnessed from routing issues on Windows Vista and student-owned devices.

In an environment of 50,000 unique client devices and approximately a thousand servers, the project has been completed in a relatively short time but a complete IPv6 environment remains a lofty ambition.

Mann expects IPv6 traffic to grow steadily within the university as it continues rollout of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 across equipment throughout the year, as well as continued proliferation of IPv6 among student devices.

IT staff hope to take advantage of a fully native internal network to enable Microsoft DirectAccess, a feature of the software giant’s modern operating systems-enabling authentication of remote access users without a virtual private network.

However, more importantly, quick acting has given staff the required knowledge to cope with wider IPv6 deployment and maintenance while the rest of the industry slowly catches up.

Next: Take it easy, do it fast

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Tags ipv6apnicinternodeMonash UniversityBlueCoat

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