Note: This article does not provide a complete summary of all IETF activities in this area. It reflects the author’s personal perspective on some current highlights.
IPv6 is quietly fading away as a topic. Instead, it is becoming an integrated part of all of the work within the IETF. There are still many remaining IPv6-specific problems to solve, but instead of being treated on the side by the IPv6 community, the majority of the problems are now part of different working groups covering both IPv4 and IPv6.
This is a good sign for IPv6, and it shows that the closing of the IPv6 working group was a sensible move and that IPv6 is becoming mature. IPv6 operations – one of the few remaining IPv6-specific groups – discussed the issue of address selection in a multiprefix environment as the only IPv6 technical issue. The rest of the topics covered operational guidelines and experiences. One example is experience from network scanning that has been tracked in a university network that is running IPv6. A conclusion was that general network scanning to find active IP addresses doesn’t exist but that port scanning of known hosts occurs in much the same way as with IPv4.
One working group that is busy with IPv6-related problems is DHC (the Dynamic Host Control Working Group). Both operational issues – like prefix delegation – and new additions for IPv6 are on the agenda. The same can be seen in a large variety of working groups from mobility to routing. Trying to address the problem with the future requirements on routing is perhaps the best example of IPv6 being integrated. Even if IPv6 initially was intended to solve the problem of growing routing tables by aggregating prefixes, such is no longer the case. The introduction of provider-independent IPv6 addresses – due to the wish to maintain the operational models – has moved routing table growth issues higher up on the agenda because aggregation no longer is a viable option. A lot of attention was placed on trying to initiate work on that problem during IETF 68 and the topic was brought up in several working groups and even at the plenary. The routing and addressing problem is not a new issue, but with latest developments it has come into a new light, and the work at this meeting is the first step into creating a ROAP working group. There are several views about the issue and if it is even an issue at all. Some think this won’t create any problems because the development of hardware will keep up with growing demands, but even if that’s the case, there is major concern regarding the cost involved for the operators who eventually will have to pay for this new equipment. Even if there is disagreement about the topic, it seems clear that it has to be studied in more detail. The fact that the focus for IPv6 is on operational issues and integrated IPv4 and IPv6 issues shows that IPv6 has moved into a new phase and is now starting to become a natural part of the daily life of the IETF and the network community as a whole.