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Father of the internet to promote IPv6 in NZ

01 Jul 2009
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New Zealand is well placed to join leading countries in accelerating its adoption of IPv6, the next generation Internet Protocol, according to ‘Father of the Internet’ Dr Vint Cerf (who is also a Google Vice President). Dr Cerf has been drafted in as a keynote speaker for the three-city New Zealand IPv6 Hui in August. He will speak at the Wellington and Auckland events.

“I’m looking forward to my visit, talking to public and private sector CIOs, IT Managers and CTOs, and identifying how we can ensure a timely uptake of IPv6 in New Zealand,” says Dr Cerf. “The great thing about New Zealand is that it is possible to bring the key public and private decision makers into a room, over a series of only three days, and explore and debate an issue of importance to the nation.”

Cisco Senior Technical Leader, IPv6 Technologies, Tony Hain, whose knowledge of and experience in IPv6 is respected around the world, will also take the stand, identifying the key issues that must be faced to achieve IPv6 readiness. Hain was co-chair of the IETF working group developing IPv6 transition tools, was made an IPv6 Forum Fellow in 2004, and is Technology Director on the Forum’s North American IPv6 Task Force steering committee.

The New Zealand IPv6 Hui is a major component of the work being undertaken by an across-government and across-industry Steering Group initiated by the Government and led by telecommunications consultant Dr Murray Milner. An IPv6 Readiness survey is also being undertaken of IT management as to each organisation’s IPv6 preparedness and understanding. The results will be presented at the Hui.

Dr Milner says all CIOs, IT managers and CTOs are invited to attend the Hui to hear about the issues, listen to case studies, discuss with colleagues, and consider their own roadmaps. Sponsors of the event include Telecom, InternetNZ, FX Networks, Cisco, Juniper, Allied Telesis, Citylink and Enable Networks, with others possible by the time this article is published.

New Zealand has made little progress on IPv6 so far, with one carrier offering services, a scattering of IPv6 enabled websites and some specialised uses. Around the world, various governments have been busy, but Australia and Canada perhaps provide a good example of what we could be doing and by when.

“For a start, IPv6 should be integrated into all websites,” says Dr Cerf. “As well, other key progress points need to be identified in government and corporate roadmaps, keeping in mind the anticipated exhaustion of IPv4 and how that may impact the organisation and its business.”

Dr Milner says that as networks tend to increase in complexity over time, it is important to bring IPv6 in at the earliest opportunity, taking into account technology refresh cycles so as to minimise disruption and cost.

“Failure to progress a smooth adoption of IPv6 on corporate networks could result in higher cost later, and lead to issues related to the exhaustion of IPv4 numbers, such as inability to access parts of the internet that are IPv6 only, technical compromises, and increasing potential to leave security loopholes in the network,” he says.

“Another issue we should also be concerned about is that as the internet expands and billions more users and devices connect, more IPv4 space will need to be reallocated for new Internet service providers who will primarily use IPv6 in developing their networks but will need some IPv4 space in order to fully integrate into the internet.”

It is useful to look across at Australia and see how they are readying themselves for IPv6. They prepared an IPv6 strategy in 2007, setting dates of Jan 2008-Dec 2009 for preparation, Jan 2010-Dec 2012 for transition, and Jan 2013-Dec 2015 for implementation.

Also, across the ditch the Australian IPv6 Summit has been run successfully for four years, educating their community through a process beginning with global preparation in 2005, the business case in 2006, real-life deployment in 2007 and a focus on transition issues in 2008. There are web resources available there that could prove relevant and useful to New Zealand organisations – see ipv6.org.au, ipv6forum.org.au.

Further afield, Canada in April this year chose to compress and catch up on the Australian IPv6 model with deadlines of Jan 2009-Dec 2010 for preparation, Jan 2011-Dec 2013 for transition and Jan 2014-Dec 2015 for implementation.

So if New Zealand organisations can move forward now, learning from these efforts, we’ll all be strongly positioned as the internet evolves.