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IPv6 31 October 2013

Rough Guide to IETF 88: All About IPv6

The Internet relies on a single addressing framework to have global reach and integrity. IPv4 address space is insufficient, and IPv6 has been developed by the IETF as its successor. IPv6 recently passed a significant milestone in global IPv6 deployment: the percentage of users reaching Google services over IPv6 crossed the 2% threshold, and the pace of use seems to be accelerating. While the standard for IPv6 has long-since been finished, there are ongoing discussions in the IETF of maintenance issues in the protocols, IPv6 operational issues and management, and possible uses in home networks and very large-scale networks (of small scale devices). Many of these discussions will happen at IETF 88 in Vancouver next week.

Mobile networks are a key component of expanding IPv6 deployment around the world, and a number of drafts being considered in the IPv6 Operations (v6ops) working group (WG) are for documenting operational practices important to deployment in mobile networks. Since the last IETF meeting, the “IPv6 Roaming Behavior Analysis” draft has been revised. It attempts to document all the failure cases of IPv6 roaming in mobile networks. It provides a useful framework for determining actions that could be taken to accelerate deployment of IPv6 for mobile networks and the ongoing revisions help to document areas where work is still needed.

An interesting example of work documenting experience from ongoing deployment is “Balanced Security for IPv6 Residential CPE.” This document is based on the large deployment of IPv6 at Swisscom and provides an example of one way to provide security for IPv6 deployments in the home. Feedback on previous versions of the document was concerned that this would describe The Normative Way for doing this, which it does not.

The Home Networking (homenet) WG charter is to develop an architecture document that outlines how to construct home networks involving multiple routers and subnets. It expects to describe this using existing components of the IPv6 architecture. Such a document has been produced and mostly been through IESG review although there seems to remain some sticking points; a good part of the homenet agenda in Vancouver has been devoted to this discussion. There is also time on the agenda devoted to naming issues in home networks and the interaction between routers respectively at the edge of the service provider network and the home network.

Related to the rising attention being paid to the Internet of Things (IoT), the IPv6 over Networks of Resource-constrained Nodes (6lo) WG has formed and will be meeting at IETF 88. As its name suggests, the WG is focused on IPv6 standardization needed specifically for resource constrained (e.g. low power) networks. This includes IPv6 adaptation layers for specific low power link technologies, related management information bases (MIBS), etc. Another very specific working group has been formed (6tisch) to describe how IPv6 works on the TSCH mode of the IEEE 802.15.4e standard, which specifies the physical layer and media access control for low-rate wireless personal area networks.

Although the main standards making activity for IPv6 has long been completed, the level of energy and effort in the IETF around IPv6 operation continues to grow, reflecting the reality of its increasing use on the global Internet and the importance of IPv6 to the Internet’s continued growth and evolution.

Related Working Groups and BoFs at IETF 88:

IEFT 88 Rough guide:

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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