April 2006 Newsletter
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Intro
 

This month's 6Sense has a comprehensive and very timely article on Windows Vista by Joseph Davies of the Microsoft Corporation, which identifies some of the most important features of IPv6 in the forthcoming Operating System. Mr. Davies explains how IPv6 support in Vista differs from that of XP and Server 2003, and how users will initiate v6 applications such as peer-to-peer networking and IPsec when Vista becomes widely available next year. Ankur Chadda and Philip Joung of Spirent Communications provide answers to the commonly asked question of whether IPv6 packets will utilize more bandwidth, having conducted actual tests across a range of file sizes. Mike Roussey of v6 Transition discusses the ardently awaited availability of useful IPv6 enabled consumer products and services. David Goodrum of NFR Security, Inc., poses the question of, “You’ve set up your network to support IPv6 – then what?” Speaking of NFR, it is co-hosting two upcoming webcasts on IPv6 security issues with the v6 Transition team (details below). Don’t forget to mark your calendars with the next Summit, the Federal IPv6 Summit in Reston, VA, from 17-19 May. The theme for this conference is Benefits, Innovations and Solutions, and we expect a concentrated two days of expert testimony from an outstanding line-up of government CIOs, CTOs, and other IT leaders on what benefits from IPv6 will accrue in the short and long term to the US government and its industry partners, what policies are being promulgated, and what solutions can be postulated for the challenges anticipated during the transition period. We expect strong support and attendance from the Federal departments and contractors (both large and small) that are starting to move aggressively into the IPv6 space. We will witness live demonstrations of actual IPv6 applications, and up-to-the-minute reports on the first city in the US to be both totally wireless and native IPv6 enabled – and what this bodes for other American “IPv6 cities” to come. Visit www.federalipv6summit.com for further details. See you there !

IPv6 Improvements in Windows Vista
 

IPv6 is supported in Microsoft® Windows XP and Windows Server™ 2003, but its use among networking services and applications is limited. With Windows Vista™ (in beta testing at the time of the publication of this article), IPv6 support is installed by default and built-in Windows Vista network services and applications are now IPv6-capable. This new level of IPv6 support in Windows Vista has the potential of igniting the networking industry with new applications and connectivity in the same way as the inclusion of a TCP/IP stack in Windows 95 ignited the industry for the applications and services of the Internet.
The IPv6 support in Windows Vista has the following features:
Installed, enabled and preferred by default
Windows-wide support for IPv6
New dual IP layer architecture
Full IPsec support
Teredo enhancements
GUI-based configuration
MLDv2
LLMNR
Literal IPv6 Addresses in URLs
IPv6 over PPP
DHCPv6

Does Size Matter?
 

Most readers of this newsletter fully understand and appreciate the value and reasons for IPv6. Indeed, IPv6 will make our networks easier to use, more secure, more scalable and perform faster, right? Well, strong arguments can be made for the first three (and numerous articles have discussed this previously), but what about the fourth? The story for performance isn't quite so clear.
For one, maximum packet sizes have increased in size from 64 kilobytes in IPv4 to 4 gigabytes in IPv6, enabling a significant improvement in efficiency depending on the traffic being transferred. IPv6 also has a flow label feature which marks all the packets going to a single destination with the same label. This can improve efficiency by automatically having network equipment handle these labeled packets in a similar way.
Flow label information can be utilized to effectively implement traffic engineering (according to coalitionsummit.com, it can improve efficiency from 27% in IPv4 to 81% in IPv6). Headers in IPv6 have changed, with six fields removed and one new field added, allowing for more efficient routing.
What performance hits does IPv6 have? The headers in IPv6 are now twice the size of ones in IPv4, which is not bad given the large increase in address bit size. IPv6 also adds IPSec, which itself adds further overhead and can reduce performance. IPv4 is well understood and mature, with many years of use globally, often with custom hardware devoted to dealing with and minimizing the weaknesses of IPv4. The IPv4 versions of software have been optimized and tweaked for many years, often bringing about improvements in performance and stability. IPv6 can't claim the same level of hardware or software maturity yet, although it will quickly catch up as adoption increases. Indeed, the story for performance isn't completely straightforward.

If You Build It, They Will Come... With A Little Help
 

You know you have to support IPv6... but then what? So, you've got an IPv6 backbone… that doesn't do you much good until applications and hosts starting actually speaking IPv6, and not just tunneling IPv4 over IPv6. But, don't worry, if you build it, they will come (to steal a line from Field of Dreams)… and with a little help they might come faster than you hoped.
Creating the field of dreams (your IPv6 backbone) will eventually entice administrators, developers, vendors and visionaries to take advantage of that field. However, there's a little problem. What if the players aren't ready? You've got thousands of end users still running IPv4 probably, and you need to know how hard it's going to be to update them for IPv6. Or, what if there are players ready, but you don't know about them? Heck, how do you even know when any IPv6 player actually takes to the field you've built for them? How do you measure the Return on your Investment (ROI) into this new IPv6 backbone? NFR Security is one provider helping to answer these questions, and provide solutions to meet customers IPv6 needs today. Let's take each question one at a time.

Assessing Market Demand for IPv6 in Consumer Technology
 

The vast majority of news regarding IPv6 has centered on OMB’s mandate that Federal Agencies transition their network backbones by June 2008. To this point, considerably less has been said of the subsequent and potentially massive consumer migration to IPv6 capable devices in their home and personal networks in the United States. Assuming that the government does not mandate a transition, a consumer transition to IPv6 in the United States will be driven by market demand. In other words, it won’t be a “because I said so” impetus to the consumer migration, rather a “what’s in it for me” scenario that will drive the consumer transition. Certainly the government’s transition will influence and impact consumer technology, especially when innovation and enhanced capabilities are discovered as IPv6 is transitioned into federal networks.
IPv6 is an enabling technology, and not a silver bullet that will immediately provide enhanced capabilities to the consumer. IPv6 will provide almost infinitely more IP addresses than IPv4 and will enhance auto-configuration, quality of service, and security and authentication capabilities. IPv6 along with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) integrated into mobile devices and consumer technology will open many new opportunities for consumers in terms of logistics and how they do business. This begs the question, “Which of the redeeming attributes of IPv6 will ultimately drive the market demand for IPv6 capable services and devices?”
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Live Webcasts on IPv6 Security Issues
NFR Security and v6 Transition have combined forces to provide two upcoming webcasts in April, accessible via the www.amosoft.com website. The first (on April 11, at 11:00 hours EST and April 12, at 14:00 hours EST) will be on scanning a commercial user's address space (of 18 quintillion new IPv6 addresses), and how IPv6 affects active vulnerability scanners. The second webcast (on April 19, at 14:00 EST or April 20, at 11:00 EST) is on identifying the targeted environment, including nodes already running IPv6, finding tunnels already running on your network, and identifying hosts and applications that must be upgraded before they can be migrated to IPv6.
v6 Transition Now Offers IPv6 Transition Services
IPv6 Summit, Inc., organizers of the US IPv6 Summits for the last three years and publishers of 6Sense, now offers a wide range of training, consulting and implementation support services to make the transition to IPv6 a reality for your organization. We have assembled a team of IPv6 experts and partners into v6 Transition, providing a complete set of solutions to your meet your IPv6 transition planning and implementation requirements.