Testing the Infrastructure

By Fahmida Y. Rashid  |  Posted 2011-06-04 Print this article Print


World IPv6 Day will test the global infrastructure to see what kind of problems may come up so they can be corrected, said Sophos' Lyne. The average Internet user should not notice any issues, since most ISPs will be deploying a dual-stack configuration, where users will have addresses from both namespaces so they can access sites on both sides of the networking divide.

Organizations will use World IPv6 Day to learn what they are ready for, Qing Li, chief scientist and senior technologist at Blue Coat Networks, told eWEEK. Just by preparing for the "mass test," some problems have already been highlighted, he said.

Li said that a Japanese ISP said "there will be a segment of IPv6 infrastructure that will be unavailable on IPv6 day." The issue is specific to that ISP in the way the infrastructure was deployed and the addresses allocated, but it's likely the problem would not have been uncovered if there hadn't been all the preparation for World IPv6 Day, he noted.

Sophos' Lyne also speculated that this kind of a joint test may uncover issues in the IPv6 protocol itself. For example, IPv6 originally had a capability that would allow network routers to specify how traffic should be routed. Essentially, organizations could say that traffic going to the data center in California should first go to this server in Virginia and then to that server in Chicago.

"On paper, it sounded like a good idea," Lyne said. However, a few years ago, a French security firm testing out the capability realized that it could potentially be used by attackers to hijack and reroute user traffic through malicious servers. As a consequence, that capability is no longer supported in the modern IPv6 implementation.

Having more eyes on IPv6 will help uncover other problems, Lyne reported. In addition, it will highlight whether organizations are deploying the latest IPv6 implementation, or if anyone is still using the older versions with obsolete capabilities.

Carrier Problems

Another potential problem involves carriers. Like people, some carriers "don't like each other," Cricket Liu, vice president of architecture at Infoblox and resident IPv6 expert, told eWEEK.

Even though two ISPs may support IPv6, they may not recognize each other. As a result, they won't "peer" their IPv6 traffic, leaving organizations in isolated "pools" of IPv6. 

"I imagine there's going to be a fair number of people who thought they'd bought global IPv6 connectivity, but it's going to turn out that they are restricted to their carrier's IPv6 network," Liu said.

The goal of World IPv6 Day is to encourage ISPs, hardware manufacturers, software vendors and other Web companies to prepare for the transition and give them confidence that this migration isn't scary, after all, Blue Coat's Li said. Maybe after June 8, organizations will keep IPv6 turned on and encourage more users to try it.

Blue Coat will be working with other organizations to share data collected on June 8, Li said. The type of data collected will include the sites that were IPv6 ready, the kind of volume those servers handled and how long they were running.




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