IPv6 Independence day: Rest in peace IPv4

29 Nov 2019 09:30h - 11:00h

Event report

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Mr Eduardo Barasal Morales (NIC.br) provided a short overview of the two existing versions of the Internet protocol; version four, IPv4, and version six, IPv6. Despite the age of IPv6 (over 20 years), the deployment numbers are still relatively low at 30%, with IPv4 which is facing exhaustion in all regions of the world having 70% of users.

Ms Constanze Bürger (Federal Ministry of the Interior, Germany) spent some time reviewing the IPv4 and IPv6 strategy of the German administration which is focused on achieving the goal of maximum accessibility and then getting rid of IPv4. The public administration must lead through example and move to adopt IPv6 and turn off IPv4. This requires multiple elements, from the right supporting infrastructure for the IPv6 address space, to network plans and equipment in place.

As part of the supporting framework, the administration is running a local Internet registry (LIR) for all the sub-organisations within the administration, and address space is provided from here for each organisation’s IT infrastructure. There is a plan to implement a public administration information network with requisite security and consideration for high availability. All of these activities are guided by the IPv6 master plan with a clear migration strategy.

Mr Antonio Marcos Moreiras (Brazilian Network Information Center – NIC.br) provided the context of early experiences 20 years ago with IPv6, and the process having to be described as a deployment vs transition to avoid administrators encountering issues. However, over time people seemed to have forgotten that we are in a transition to IPv6 and have been committing more to IPv4 and supporting the co-existence.

Mr Samih Souissi (Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Post (ARCEP), France) spoke about European adjustments and referenced the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), which, in a 2016 statement stated that ‘the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) will stop requiring IPv4 compatibility in new or extended protocols’. While the IAB is committed to an IPv6 only Internet a number of others are still holding onto IPv4 due to legacy equipment. There is also a growing market for IPv4 addresses which is lessening the pressure to migrate to IPv6. The rate of mobile devices deployment is another concern as not all operators are enabling IPv6 by default or requiring it to be deployed to their networks. There is an increasing cost to keep and support IPv4 vs investing in the migration to IPv6, and this also poses the risk of a split Internet sometime in the future. Moreover, it continues to make judicial investigation difficult in cases where individuals or organisations are using Carrier Grade Network Address Translation (CGNAT) and relying on IPv4 more strongly.

An IPv6 task force made up of ISPs, IXPs, and hosting providers has been monitoring the situation in France and leveraging a barometer that tracked when an operator chose to activate devices with IPv6 by default there was a rise from 5% to 36% in IPv6 users.

Mr Mukon Akong Tamon (African Network Information Centre (AfriNIC)) highlighted that training and capacity development is not sufficient, as they have conducted training for 10 000 engineers across Africa. While the AfriNIC training may be free, the equipment needed for the transition is not. He called on the decision makers within organisations to take up the mantle because the authority to make the commitment to and advance the transition is not within the hands of engineers in most cases. He highlighted the case of 15 governments on the continent mandating the transition and still failing because of not getting the buy-in from the organisations. There is a need for greater incentives to encourage organisations to see that the transition is in their commercial interest and not just a drain on their technical and budgetary resources.

By Andre Edwards