My role as a Cisco Live speaker requires me to travel a lot. It’s something I really enjoy doing, especially when I get to meet new people who are passionate about networking.
As people get to know me, they soon realize that I’m somewhat of an IPv6 ‘fan-girl’. When the topic (inevitably) comes up in conversation, many people who aren’t as ‘passionate’ as I will ask “Nobody uses IPv6, do they?”.
— Nicole Wajer (@vlinder_nl) January 31, 2018
I’m sure there are many of you who’ve heard something similar in conversation, and although it is difficult to convince these people that IPv6 is being deployed by more and more organizations — especially when adoption rates have been so slow in its 20-year existence thus far — these instances do at least provide me the opportunity to get them thinking about the topic again and share what great work has been done in the space recently.
Encouragingly, this work — by all us IPv6 fans — seems to be paying off, at least for our Cisco Live IPv6 sessions, in which we’ve seen an increase in the number of attendees over the last few years. Below are a few insights that I’ve noted from these sessions recently, and my tips for getting started with IPv6.
There are no shortcuts to IPv6
Many in our sessions are eager to deploy IPv6, but struggle with the ‘everything is bigger’ mentality. Ideally, they are looking for ways to make IPv6 easier to incorporate in their current network.
Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts, or one-size-fits all process to deploying IPv6 — it requires time, effort, and upgrades.
Inevitably all of these require some capital outlay, which leads to a second roadblock that many people offer to deploying IPv6: management not seeing the added benefit of deploying IPv6.
What is the business case for IPv6?
In management’s mind, IPv6 is a costly upgrade to a technology/protocol that isn’t broken. As such, a standard question that audience members have is “How do I provide a business case for management?”.
Again, there is no one-size fits all business case that we can offer. What I suggest though, is that people try to find benefits that appeal to their managers.
For example, if security is important in your organization (it should be for EVERY organization!), discuss with them how running dual-stack provides better visibility and less false positives than using Network Address Translation (NAT). If it’s a question of money, explain to management the costs associated with continually upgrading NAT. If it’s a question of sustainable expansion of your network, explain the issue of IPv4 depletion and issues (again) with NATs and/or acquiring and incorporating addresses from the transfer market.
Where do I start?
Another question we get with another no one-size-fits all answer. I can go on for hours answering this question (and sometimes I do) but the following steps are a good beginning:
- Learn IPv6 basics NOW! It’s not that difficult but some of the techniques you have learned in the past, for example, subnetting, you’ll have to let go of.
- Investigate if all your gear and applications in your network are capable of running dual-stack? If you have recently refreshed your network this shouldn’t be an issue.
- Start asking your providers and application developers if they support IPv6
Another approach could be when you are refreshing your network devices to turn on both address families to make it a joint effort — this is how Cisco did it many years ago (we’ve now migrated to dual-stack) and I can guarantee it will help with the transition.
Read: 10-step plan to IPv6
The above points are just a start but with a little time and effort, you’ll be on the road to sunsetting your legacy protocol.
— Nicole Wajer (@vlinder_nl) March 9, 2018
Nicole Wajer is a Technical Solutions Architect at Cisco. She has a global role for the security part of SDA (Software Defined Access) in the Enterprise Networking team.
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