February 2006 Newsletter

We are very excited about announcing our next two IPv6 Summits, the Federal IPv6 Summit in Reston, VA, from 17-19 May, and the Coalition Summit for IPv6 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, from 3-5 October, which we expect to be two prodigious steps forward in evolving the IPv6 industry and strengthening the community. The Federal IPv6 Summit will feature some of the most powerful speakers we've ever had – including political and military leaders, organizational executives, ISPs and first responders -- who will identify their visions of how the government will benefit from IPv6, how this transition will take place, and what roles industry should pursue. This will be a must-see event, especially for those of you working for or in support of the US Federal government. We will have up-to-the-minute reports on the first city in America to be both totally wireless and IPv6 enabled. See www.federalipv6summit.com for further details. The Coalition Summit for IPv6 is being co-sponsored by NATO, and will feature prominent leaders from NATO and other allied nations presenting the programs, status and funding for IPv6 throughout the countries that are in partnership with the US. There will be reports on major initiatives such as Force Transformation, Network Centric Operations, Interoperability for First Responders, and Emergency Medical Response, as well as industry opportunities via NATO, EU and individual coalition member funding. Register online via www.coalitionsummit.com. See you there!
This month's 6Sense has a blend of important articles on IPv6 applications and infrastructure. Matt Walton, the Chairman of the Interoperability Consortium, writes about the shocking lack of interoperable communications between first responders – how it caused many needless casualties during 9/11, and how nothing has substantially changed almost five years later, as was evidenced after Katrina. He notes that a technical solution to this dilemma lies at hand, with IPv6 an intrinsic part of it. Christopher Harz writes about IPTV, one of the hottest entertainment and educational technical areas today, and how it can only be fully realized with IPv6 and the huge reductions in cost and increases in picture quality it makes possible.
Mike Guzelian and Charles Limoges of General Dynamics C4 Systems describe the transition from ATM and IPv4 to IPv6, comparing the benefits of each, and suggest designs for IPv6-based high-security encrypted networks for military and other government users. I wrote an article on the basics of the DNS component of IPv6 networks, and how a novel new product and approach could save huge amounts of time and costs in initializing network configurations and promoting both accuracy and security during their operation. Finally, the v6 Transition Team lists consulting, training, testing and other services being offered for those planning the transition to the New Internet.

Homeland Security Interoperability and IPv6

The tragic collapse of the World Trade Center Towers on 9-11 made interoperability a household word. We all watched in horror as it became evident that the police and fire departments could not communicate with each other. Prior to 9-11, the issues associated with the inability of public agencies and private companies to share information during emergencies had largely gone un-noticed by the general public. It was assumed that police departments, fire departments, public health departments and the myriad agencies that support them had the tools necessary to communicate regardless of the circumstances. But 9-11 sadly showed that this was not the case.
Shockingly, the same gaps were unmistakable in the bungled response to Katrina in the late Summer of 2005. With a combination of anger and urgency, both public officials and the general public have begun to ask — how is it possible that a mission as critical as public safety interoperability has not been effectively addressed in a society aroused by epic tragedies and blessed with abundant technological resources?
The answer to this urgent question has multiple parts: some political, some organizational and some technological. The good news is that the path to a solution is now becoming clear on at least one of those dimensions: the technological. The fact is that the technological capabilities are now available to address the problem, and IPv6 is a fundamental part of the solution.

IPTV and IPv6: Meant for Each Other

One of the hottest topics at this year's Consumer Electronics Show was IPTV (Internet Protocol TV or Television-over-the-Internet), with many panels and exhibitors discussing this "revolution in television. "A survey by IBM showed that 40% of TV broadcasters felt "seriously threatened" by IPTV. Major film studios and TV networks have been busily appointing new vice presidents – of Digital Media, IPTV, Advanced Media, or something similar – to focus on this new business area. MTV even has a new "CDO" (Chief Digital Officer). Why all the excitement? And what role could the New Internet (IPv6) play in enabling this new business?
Why the Buzz?
There seem to be three main sources for all the excitement: a) independent content producers, who hope they can finally get their films and TV shows funded and distributed; b) major studios, who hope they can re-purpose existing content for new media and milk them for additional revenue – which they managed to do with the DVD market, including the release of television series on DVDs, and which they have started to do with TV shows sold over Apple's iStore; and, c) firms not in show biz such as telephone companies (telcos), search engines, and online content compilers that hope to gain revenues by getting into entertainment – in some cases, by stealing viewers from traditional content distributors such as cable and satellite broadcast media.
A major reason that IPTV may do better now than it did in the late 1990s is the increasing availability of Internet broadband, in more than 100 million households worldwide. Whereas many American households still have low-quality broadband (around 300-500 Kbps), several telcos are upgrading to 1-3 Mbps, and the 20 or even 100 Mbps broadband rates now commonly available in Japan and South Korea are pointing the way to the future.

The Challenges of Transition –The Move from ATM and IPv4 to IPv6

Formidable challenges face the transition from ATM and IPv4 to IPv6. Chief among them is maintaining and ultimately improving quality of service for network environments with increased complexity, higher operating speeds and assured end-to-end security regardless of network, application or location.
Quality of service was built into ATM networks by allowing users to prioritize more important traffic over less important traffic. Compared to ATM, prioritization in IPv4 is not well supported, but IPv6 should level the playing field. IPv6 has been designed with enhanced quality of service mechanisms that will allow advanced quality of service schemes to be deployed. As IPv6 improves IP network performance and versatility, it will also add complexity to the network, so every piece of in-line equipment will need to keep pace to ensure a smooth transition. This includes the element of network security that must keep quality of service robust. This is especially true when it comes to the complex requirements for Type 1 encryption.
When it comes to network speed, ATM has historically had the advantage, as 10-gigabit communications are not uncommon. One of the factors that make ATM so fast is its 48 byte, fixed length data unit called a cell. The consistent cell length makes switching between communication paths quick and simple. On the other hand, IP packets vary in size and can range from very small voice data payloads, to very large file transfers. ATM is efficient for small amounts of data as it was designed to support voice. IP provides greater overall flexibility and less overhead for large amounts of data.

DNS and IPv6

DNS, or the Domain Naming System, has been around for many years. The existing Internet would not be able to scale by adding nodes through people with such varying skills without it. The basic function of DNS is to map hierarchical domain names (e.g. www.coalitionsummit.com) onto IP addresses (e.g., for IPv4), which is what is actually used in packet headers for addressing on the wire (See Figure 1in entire article). You can think of DNS as the Internet's (automated) telephone book, as a start.
DNS also does IP address to domain name mapping (like a “reverse phone book,” available to business users), and allows you to publish certain things that must be known to others, such as the nodename of your preferred mail server(s), which is done with MX records. Few people realize that you can also advertise the preferred LDAP server for your domain name and other such things, or use it to map a universal telephone number to one or more URLs (using ENUM), for e-mail, IM, VoIP with SIP, etc.
There are a number of widely used DNS servers, the most popular of which is a public domain program originally developed at UC Berkeley, known as the Berkeley Internet Naming Daemon, or BIND. Microsoft also created their own, now included with Windows Server. Other folks have created free ones and commercial ones (e.g. Nominum, headed by Paul Mockapetris, who invented DNS).