Action, not talk, needed for IPv6

World IPv6 Day just one of many tests needed, says Google chief internet evangelist, Vint Cerf

The co-developer of Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) has urged associations and businesses to take action on deploying IPv6, rather than continuing to talk.

Vint Cerf, renowned ‘father of the internet’ and chief internet evangelist at Google, specifically requested a speaking opportunity with members of the Internet Society of Australia last week in an attempt to progress the issue of IPv6, a topic about which he is utterly passionate about.

“We have the opportunity to actually undertake real activity, real action, and not simply talking about it,” he told members gathered at a function on Friday.

The international board of the society, along with the likes of Google and Facebook, has pledged to advertise and participate in World IPv6 Day on 8 June as a global test flight of the newer protocol on user networks.

However, while Cerf is supportive of global cooperation on the day, he said more was needed in order to ensure problems associated with migration to IPv6 are sorted out quickly.

“What I will do at Google is to arrange for weekly, or monthly - or anything I can get away with - tests and demonstrations of IPv6 connectivity and the problems, because there will be big configuration problems,” he said.

“Users will discover that their machines are not properly structured or their gateways don’t work or the firewalls don’t work... we need to sort all that out.”

While the protocol has been available since 1998, IPv6 is yet to be deployed widely in companies and publicly on service providers. Adelaide-based Internode became the first Australian ISP to publicly offer native IPv6 trials to users in 2009, and currently counts about 200 ‘power users’ using the protocol at any one time.

However, it remains the only local provider to do so, with competitors moving only to draft migration plans.

This is despite the rapid exhaustion of IPv4 addresses, which global registry Internet Assigned Numbers Authority is expected to face by mid-February. Local registry Asia Pacific Network Information Centre will also exhaust its stable of IPv4 addresses by August, according to those at the association.

Cerf called for ISOC-AU “not to lobby for IPv6 but to actually do something - to arrange for testing”.

NBN on the global stage

Cerf also urged members present to utilise the National Broadband Network (NBN) as a launching pad for entry into global markets, rather than focussing on benefits to the domestic Australian economy.

“The domestic market is very small... and you’re in a very good position to take advantage of that global market,” he said, commending the NBN as a plan miles ahead of the US’ own broadband initiatives.

“Once the broadband network is in place and once you have adequate connectivity across the undersea cables, you should be able to reach markets that are vastly greater than the domestic ones.

"So IT companies need to focus on opening up.”

However, Cerf also warned that in order to ramp up interaction with international markets, Australia and world governments would need to negotiate multi-lateral agreements surrounding a legal framework for digital signatures.

“If we’re going to do electronic commerce on a global scale, when we do online transactions we have to have rock-solid legal frameworks for dealing with breach of contract,” he said.

Cerf did not disclose his discussions with the Federal Government last week.

Follow James Hutchinson on Twitter: @j_hutch

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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