Unearthing IPv6 benefits by moving to the cloud

By on 26 Aug 2016

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The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), a non-profit independent research and training organization, is no stranger to using IPv6.

Its headquarters (AS17721), based in Los Baños, Philippines, has the second highest IPv6 capability in the Philippines, having deployed the service around 2011.

“We are a totally dual stack shop – we run IPv4 and IPv6 over our entire network,” says Marco van den Berg, IRRI’s chief information officer.

“We use IPv6 by virtue of our 1 GB connection to PREGINET (Philippine Research, Education and Government Information Network), which gives us a piggyback to the Asia Pacific Advanced Network (APAN) and, in turn, the global academic research network.

“Through ubiquitous checks of file uploads and downloads, we’ve found our IPv6 pipe is much faster than our IPv4 pipe.”

ASNAS NameIPv6 CapableIPv6 PreferredSamples
AS45600UPM-AS-AP University of the Philippines, Manila36.61%30.50%1, 292
AS17721IRRI-AS-AP International Rice Research Institute30.04%24.94%2, 217
AS45209UPLB-AS-AP University of the Philippines, Los Banos Campus28.98%28.42%5, 845
AS63927RISE-HK RISE2.80%2.80%4, 680
AS9821DOST-PH-AP Department of Science and Technology0.56%0.51%16, 880

IRRI works with its public and private sector partners in national agricultural research and extension systems in major rice-growing countries to do research, training, and knowledge transfer. They have offices in over 16 economies in Asia and Africa, which Marco and his team service from the Philippines.

Dispelling myths of cloud computing

In an effort to consolidate and improve the efficiency of some of their systems, Marco and his team have been gradually moving many of IRRI’s applications to the cloud.

“We try to find a solution that can provide the fastest and most reliable network speeds in our various research hubs,” explains Marco.

Marco says it has been difficult convincing people of the benefits of moving to the cloud but was recently buoyed by the recommendations by an independent review.

“There were some myths as to why IRRI couldn’t go cloud. One myth was IRRI doesn’t have enough bandwidth, which is crazy because we have a 1 GB connection to PREGINET and two 500 MB connections to a local commercial network.”

Another myth that Marco is continuing to test is the security concerns associated with hosting data and applications in the cloud. It is why he and his team have been working on implementing DNSSEC measures, but they ran into a complication in Myanmar related to the use of network address translation (NAT).

“What we’ve found in Myanmar is that ISPs are choosing to use double and triple NAT in order to extend the limited number of v4 addresses they have. In short, what this means is we cannot put that office on the same sort of managed system as our offices in other economies,” he says.

Marco says one way this can be resolved is if they can get an IPv6 connection.

“We tried setting up an IPv6 tunnel over the existing connectivity and it worked. Not only did it allow us to run our firewall, but we actually saw significant changes in upload and download speeds, most likely because of the direct connection we had.”

Given these improved speeds and the benefits of point-to-point connection as observed in their Myanmar trials, Marco is hoping all IRRI offices can connect via IPv6 in the coming years, and realize the full potential of the cloud solutions they have been implementing.

“Given more and more providers are offering their services via IPv6, it makes sense to use these services using the best protocol.”

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