On the 8th of June, for 24 hours, the major names that make up the web experience for a large proportion of users of the Internet will be enabling IPv6 on their services.
The announcement: http://isoc.org/wp/worldipv6day/
What does this mean?
Up until now there’s been an argument made by some network administrators that there’s no point deploying IPv6 as the home Internet Service Providers haven’t , and the ISPs might say there’s no point as a lot of websites aren’t IPv6 enabled, the website owners are worried 1/2000 of their visitors might have IPv6 issues and go to a competitors instead. The network hardware vendors have a similar opinion and so you risk a monotonous stalemate, with the occasional voice of ‘have we run out of addresses yet?’.
This date means all of the above groups joining in, all having the same risks on the same date.
This is great as it means actual progress now, rather than when it’s a panic later. This means ISPs, website owners and even end users taking notice.
 Perhaps ideally they shouldn’t know anything has happened but if they’re seeing the publicity and putting pressure on ISPs, vendors and websites then that’s fine.
What about Oxford?
- With regards to www.ox.ac.uk , I’ve had no involvement with the running of it but I believe it’s maintained by a lot of teams from different parts of the university. I think by June it will be running on hardware from a non OUCS section of the university (I think currently it is NSMS, later it will be BSP), the backend is written by a contracted company and the political control of the website content is via a dedicated team at the Public Affairs Directorate. This makes it all slightly tricky but I’ll begin prodding the contacts involved tomorrow.
- For smaller university websites hosted by OUCS or via NSMS the outlook is much better, the technical and political challenges are much smaller and we’d like to get as many sites on a AAAA for the date as possible. The systems development team in OUCS have already started deploying sites (such as this blog) with a AAAA.
- As our first test unit the Maths Institute already has IPv6 connectivity and I’ll be trying to assist them to get their websites IPv6 enabled (if they need my help of course; they might not).
- For units themselves: (If you aren’t from the university it may help to first explain that the networks team doesn’t supply networking to the end user, we supply networking to the ‘front door‘ of each department/college/unit and the unit has it’s own politically separate IT staff that maintain the unit)
- For IPv6 connectivity look at the checklist then get in contact when ready. If in doubt you can phone myself.
- You can start today – when someone asks how your IPv6 deployment preparation is going, don’t say that you can’t do anything because OUCS haven’t yet given you IPv6 connectivity. Do an audit of switch hardware, check your firewalls IPv6 support, make a list of the services you run, plan how you will layout your network (these tasks may take months whilst doing your normal duties, please start now).
- Please listen to the technical advice given and remain professional. 128bit numbers are long and noone expects you to be perfect beacuse humans make mistakes. We don’t mind mistakes and the move to IPv6 is tricky but we’ll assist and providing you don’t expect us to configure your hardware for you we’ll give advice when asked. As time allows we do go out of our way for approachable IT staff, but please don’t refuse to listen to the advice given.
What about the Networks Team?
You might remember from previous posts that our three main issues were/are:
- The firewall: It’s always dangerous to suggest dates in a blog but the IPv6 firewall should be replaced with something more sturdy in late February. The replacement should be quite straight forward and it should be transparent to most users (we’ll see how it goes but at worst IRC server users might notice a disconnection at some dark hour of the morning).
- The IPAM (DNS and DHCP management for units): We had a lot of discussions with the vendor in late last year for our replacement system, publically I’m expecting it to be early May before I can state anything. In the meantime our existing system requires entries to be made to the forward and reverse zones by hand. This isn’t so bad for individual website entries so for the June 6th date it should be survivable.
- Security blocking: We’ve some code to re-write, I think we can have it done by June.
With the delay in the IPAM I’m thinking about possibly sacrificing some time to modify one of the shorter scripts that pushes out configurations on the existing DNS infrastructure. The current script can’t deal with both a IPv4 and an IPv6 address being pushed to the hosts DNS service configuration, although the hosts themselves (resolver and authoritative DNS) have working IPv6 connectivity. It might be that on the 8th June we can get the auth and resolver DNS systems to have IPv6 service addresses.
I’ll need to consult with my teammates however it might be that with reasonably little pain we can get eduroam and/or the vpn network to have IPv6 client connectivity, since they are self contained networks we administer the service for.
I should stop now and make no more promises, but I’m glad there’s a firm date and I’m looking forward to this.