Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Next-Generation Internet: IPv6 Overview Podcast

Mike Q and I recorded "The Next-Generation Internet: IPv6 Overview" podcast today. Below are the show notes. You can listen directly by turning up your speakers and clicking here.

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Intro: The world has changed significantly since the Internet was first created. IPv6 gives over 4.3x1020 unique addresses for every square inch on the planet, and is going to allow us to do things we've only dreamed of in the past. In this podcast we give an overview of IPv6.

Mike: Gordon, before we get into the technology, can you give us an update on IPv6 history in the United States?

Sure Mike, this comes from a 1-minute history of the Internet by Federal Computer week at FCW.COM

Mike: So,
the federal government has ordered its agencies to become IPv6- capable by June of 2008 and this is going to happen in June on our federal government networks - how about businesses?

It's happening with business too Mike. Let's take Verizon as an example as quoted in a Light Reading post from last September.

Verizon Business, which began its first phase of deploying IPv6 on the public IP network in 2004, will complete the North America region in 2008 and move into the Asia-Pacific and European regions from late 2008 to 2009. The company will operate both IPv6 and IPv4, in what is known as a "dual stack" arrangement, on its multi protocol label switching (MPLS) network core. The company also has deployed IPv6 throughout its network access points (peering facilities) where Internet service providers exchange traffic.

Mike: So, what's the problem with IPv4?

It's a combination of a lot of things - Microsoft has a nice set of resources on IPv4 and IPv6 - let's use that as a guide:

The current version of IP (known as Version 4 or IPv4) has not been substantially changed since RFC 791 was published in 1981. IPv4 has proven to be robust, easily implemented and interoperable, and has stood the test of scaling an internetwork to a global utility the size of today’s Internet. This is a tribute to its initial design. However, the initial design did not anticipate the following:

The recent exponential growth of the Internet and the impending exhaustion of the IPv4 address space. IPv4 addresses have become relatively scarce, forcing some organizations to use a Network Address Translator (NAT) to map multiple private addresses to a single public IP address. While NATs promote reuse of the private address space, they do not support standards-based network layer security or the correct mapping of all higher layer protocols and can create problems when connecting two organizations that use the private address space. Additionally, the rising prominence of Internet-connected devices and appliances ensures that the public IPv4 address space will eventually be depleted. The growth of the Internet and the ability of Internet backbone routers to maintain large routing tables. Because of the way that IPv4 network IDs have been and are currently allocated, there are routinely over 85,000 routes in the routing tables of Internet backbone routers. The current IPv4 Internet routing infrastructure is a combination of both flat and hierarchical routing. The need for simpler configuration. Most current IPv4 implementations must be either manually configured or use a stateful address configuration protocol such as Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). With more computers and devices using IP, there is a need for a simpler and more automatic configuration of addresses and other configuration settings that do not rely on the administration of a DHCP infrastructure. The requirement for security at the IP level. Private communication over a public medium like the Internet requires encryption services that protect the data being sent from being viewed or modified in transit. Although a standard now exists for providing security for IPv4 packets (known as Internet Protocol security or IPSec), this standard is optional and proprietary solutions are prevalent. The need for better support for real-time delivery of data—also called quality of service (QoS).

While standards for QoS exist for IPv4, real-time traffic support relies on the IPv4 Type of Service (TOS) field and the identification of the payload, typically using a UDP or TCP port. Unfortunately, the IPv4 TOS field has limited functionality and over time there were various local interpretations. In addition, payload identification using a TCP and UDP port is not possible when the IPv4 packet payload is encrypted. To address these and other concerns, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has developed a suite of protocols and standards known as IP version 6 (IPv6). This new version, previously called IP-The Next Generation (IPng), incorporates the concepts of many proposed methods for updating the IPv4 protocol. The design of IPv6 is intentionally targeted for minimal impact on upper and lower layer protocols by avoiding the random addition of new features.

Mike: OK - can you list the primary features of IPv6? What makes it different?

Sure Mike - this list also comes from Microsoft's website. The following are the features of the IPv6 protocol:
  1. New header format
  2. Large address space
  3. Efficient and hierarchical addressing and routing infrastructure
  4. Stateless and stateful address configuration
  5. Built-in security
  6. Better support for QoS
  7. New protocol for neighboring node interaction
  8. Extensibility

Mike: Let's go through the list with a brief summary of each. Your first item on the list was the new header format. What's different?

Mike: How about number 2, large address space?

Mike: Number 3 was efficient and hierarchical addressing and routing infrastructure - can you describe?

Mike: How about number 4, stateless and stateful address configuration?

Mike: Number 5 was built-in security

Mike: How about number 6, better support for QoS?

Mike: And number 7, new protocol for neighboring node interaction?

Mike: And finally, number 8, extensibility.

Mike: Are there any other things you want to add to the list?

Mike: Are we ready?

I always look at the end devices (even though there is so much more) and, if we just look at desktops, you have to look at Microsoft.

Microsoft started with the following implementations of IPv6, all subsequent versions/products continue to support IPv6:
The IPv6 protocol for the Windows Server 2003 and later families.
The IPv6 protocol for Windows XP (Service Pack 1 [SP1] and later).
The IPv6 protocol for Windows CE .NET version 4.1 and later

The capture and parsing of IPv6 traffic is supported by Microsoft Network Monitor, supplied with Microsoft Server 2003 and later products.

Mike: This is a good overview - next week we'll get into some details on the IPv6 protocol!

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