On the 30th May 2008 the European Commission held an IPv6 day in Brussels. The event gathered together key people involved in IPv6 from the European Commission and IPv6 stakeholders from around the world.
The motto of the event was “IPv6, the way forward, do it now!” A number of speakers referred to the misconception that IPv6 is still under development. A wealth of examples from around the world emphasises the fact that IPv6 is indeed ready for deployment now.
Based on the current usage of IPv4 adddresses it is expected that the IPv4 address pools will be exhausted somewhere between 2010 and 2012.
Over a number of years the European Commission has funded a variety of projects relating to IPv6. In addition, the EC has mandated that all EC projects utilising networking technologies must include IPv6. Now, the EC has moved from research and development in IPv6 to supporting the deployment of IPv6.
During the day many examples were given to illustrate the urgency of implementing IPv6. The fundamental problem is the depletion of the IPv4 address space. At the current rate of IPv6 address allocation the IPv4 address pools (managed by IANA and regional registries such as RIPE) will have been used up. This means that registrars will no longer be able to allocate addresses to ISPs or other organisations.
Whilst it is impossible to predict exactly how Internet users will deal with an address famine there is no doubt that the exhaustion of the IPv4 address space will hinder the growth of the Internet and stifle technology innovation.
The presentations from the day included, a video message from Vint Cerf, reports from EC projects, presentations from companies and organisations from around the world. Here are some highlights:
Empires of the Mind
In the inaugural session, Dr. Žiga Turk gave a brief review of the rise and fall of empires and how this was based on the success and failure of communication systems. He went on to show how science and engineering and specifically civil engineering, progressed with improvements in communication. This entertaining and interesting talk strongly illustrated the importance of communication systems to the development of society as a whole.
Finally, after describing many of the benefits we have seen with the growth in the Internet, he asked the question, “do you really want this to end, because we are running out of IP numbers”.
The Biggest IPv6 Implementation in the World
During the Keynote session, Mr. Lui Dong from BII China, gave a talk on “New Olympics, New Internet Economy and New Opportunities”. Only a few years ago China has very few Internet users, in Mr Dong’s presentation he showed how China’s Internet is now outstripping most other countries.
Due to historic low Internet use China has a very small proportion of the world’s IPv4 address space. At the same time it has the largest growth in IP address usage. Therefore, the Chinese government has actively supported the development and deployment of IPv6. There are over one hundred IPv6 projects supported by the government.
China now has the world’s biggest IPv6 supported single-domain backbone. This is the biggest IPv6 production network in the world.
The 2008 Olympics make widespread use of IPv6. The Olympic park network is a dual stack network. Many key applications are IPv6 enabled. These include the Olympic surveillance network and even lighting control in the Olympic stadiums!
IPv6 Makes New Applications Possible
Mr. Esaki of TF Japan presented his talk by video link from Japan. An very interesting aspect of his talk was how IPv6 made possible previously unimagined applications.
For example, large number of addresses provided by IPv6 made it possible to network many sensors in a car. As a result, the data from the car sensors became available to application developers allowing them to be used in innovative ways. He gave two examples, rain detection and traffic detection. Information on the speed of the windscreen wipers was used to indicate how heavy rain was in a particular area. This data was collated from a number of cars allowing a map of rain density to be created. Further data was collated from the Automatic Braking System (ABS) and used to indicate traffic density. Prior to IPv6 this data was not available and so no one had thought of how it could be used.
Mr. Christman of NTT further illustrated this with the example of an earthquake monitor. Monitors places in schools, homes and other buildings used IPv6 to send an alert when movement was detected. Using a knowledge of the location of the individual monitors a map of the earthquakes progress could be built up. The monitor could then alert people to the arriving tremor, giving them just enough time to find shelter.
Enterprise Applications IPv6 Ready
One area that has been a reason not to migrate to IPv6 has been the lack of support for IPv6 in enterprise applications. This is less so today. Mr. Lutz Heuser of SAP spoke about how SAP’s applications are fully IPv6 ready. It was interesting to note how easy SAP had found migrating their applications to IPv6.
In conclusion, the EU IPv6 day showed how far IPv6 has progressed in the last ten years. There is no doubt that the urgency for the deployment of IPv6 has increased and that it is now increasingly easy to deploy IPv6.
Further information on the IPv6 day can be found at http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/policy/ipv6/events/presentations/index_en.htm.