Creating Infrastructure Platforms

The basic deployment of new networking protocols depends, at a minimum, on network elements and host computers supporting the technology. Enabling computing and network platforms to support IPv6 is not an end in itself, but it is an important step in creating environments that lead to further innovations in services, applications, and product development. Market demand, however, is essential in driving the industry to continue adding IPv6 capabilities to products.


The "build it and they will come" approach, which requires an initial, strategic investment with no immediate returns, rarely creates a relevant market for significant investment in IPv6-related product development. Technical-, business-, and mandate-driven adoption created an increasing market demand for IPv6 support, which translated into the availability of devices that support or have well-defined road maps for integrating IPv6 features. Software and hardware is now being designed for IPv6 or with IPv6 in mind. Moreover, development and test environments have been updated to support and facilitate IPv6 integration in products.

As the standards mature and developers gain experience, the number of IPv6 features in platforms has continued to grow since the turn of the century in the following ways:

• Computing software platforms: In 2001, most operating system developers had included basic IPv6 features in their products and/or OS road maps. The introduction of initial IPv6 features has often been in the form of OS-related software development kits (SDK). After initial experience and feedback is obtained, more mature and advanced features have become native to the operating systems. Today IPv6 is relatively full-featured in the most current version of all major client and server OSs: Microsoft Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, Windows CE (4.1 and later), Red Hat Linux (7 and later) and FreeBSD (4 and later), HP-UX, Apple MAC OS, Ubuntu, Sun Solaris (8 and later), Tru64 UNIX, and Symbian (7 and later). Some OSs, such as MAC OS X and Windows Vista, are now harvesting IPv6-enabled capabilities to perform new system-level functions such as device and service discovery on LANs. This is the foundation for higher-level applications discussed in the following sections.

• Computing hardware platforms: Computer hardware platforms and computer processor chip set manufacturers are often not directly responsible for higher-level network protocols in their system design. However, they actively work with the OS suppliers to ensure that their products will work in harmony when IPv6 is enabled in the OS. The strategy for hardware and chip manufacturers is to collaborate in ways that ensure that the hardware is IPv6 capable when required by the OS.

Often this translates into simply performing routine testing (such as whether an Ethernet adapter with advanced features such as TCP off-load will support IPv6). In other cases, revisions to code may need to be made (for example, network binding across interfaces).

• Network platforms: Network processor chip set manufacturers have the additional target of enabling IPv6 packet processing in hardware. Most major network platform manufacturers, such as Cisco, Foundry, Juniper, Alaxala, Huawei, and Nortel, have supported IPv6 in their products over the past few years. This strategy is based, in part, on the firm belief that IPv6 is a basic product-survival requirement for the future. Many network platform companies are responsible for hardware and software design and packaging. IPv6 in networking products has frequently started with a software-based implementation. For optimum performance, IPv6 code for functions such as routing is best done in application-specific integrated circuits (ASIC). Support of IPv6 in network platforms is not a trivial endeavor. In fact, hardware must be designed with IPv6 in mind; otherwise, the performance of the platform can be significantly impacted under common forwarding conditions. For example, on a network platform not fully designed for IPv6, any router interface with an access control list (ACL) applied to it, ACL filtering based on upper-layer protocol information, might result or packet with extension headers being dropped or punted into the software path instead of being switched in hardware. The prudent strategic approach is for hardware to be designed with IPv6 in mind. Although the pace has been tempered by customer demand and standards maturity, the future ubiquity of IPv6 is clear.

• DNS services: Name resolution is a cornerstone to today's Internet economy. On July 20, 2004, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced that IPv6 AAAA records for the Japan (.jp) and Korea (.kr) country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) name servers became visible in the root zone file. The strategy in ICANN's announcement was clear:

By taking this significant step forward in the transition to

IPv6, ICANN is supporting the innovations through which the Internet evolves to meet the growing needs of a global economy... Recognizing the importance of IPv6 to the Internet community, ICANN has coordinated with its Root Server System Advisory Committee, Top Level Domain managers, Security and Stability Advisory Committee, and other interested parties in careful analysis of this issue. After a period of thorough examination, the decision was made to move forward with deployment of the IPv6 address records

in the manner prescribed by the community.

• Industrial networking platforms: Several of the control systems standards associated with building, plant, and process automation are moving from proprietary and industry group-specific protocols to IP as a basis for communications. There are enormous numbers of sensors, effectors, actuators, and other controls that will benefit from IPv6 features.

However, industrial networking has been slower than enterprise network platforms in embedding native IPv6 support. Part of the delay is the task of converging a large variety of industrial network protocols, several of which are proprietary. There is also the large installed base of legacy systems that may be in service for 15+ years. It was discovered in the NATO SilkRoad IPv6 over satellite project experiment that integration of IPv6 often is only possible with next generation products. Legacy satellite technology was not capable of handling IPv6 for non-Internet-

related devices such as satellite encoders or security encryptors. RUNES (Reconfigurable Ubiquitous Networked Embedded Systems) is an EU 6th Framework Program. To date, "RUNES is the largest ever European-led project enabling the creation of large-scale, widely distributed, heterogeneous networked embedded systems that interoperate and adapt to their environments."40 The RUNES program developed and demonstrated an adaptive middleware platform and application development tool set to support abstracted interaction


39. Wolfgang Fritsche, "Deploying IPv6 over Satellite," September 23, 2004,


40. "The RUNES Project" brochure,

between developers and the controls environment. RUNES work activities carefully examined trends in industrial networking. Figure 4-7 highlights the high-level trends in industrial control networks.41

Source: Wireless communication technologies in industrial monitoring and control, [email protected], TCCL March 2006 Meeting

Figure 4-7 Evolution of Control Networks

Source: Wireless communication technologies in industrial monitoring and control, [email protected], TCCL March 2006 Meeting

Figure 4-7 Evolution of Control Networks

NOTE A wireless communications technology in industrial monitoring and control is a compelling industrial network trend. Vision, technical, organizational, and social issues were concisely covered at the March 2006 TCCL meeting.42

The RUNES research and middleware platform also emphasized flexibility, installation, and operational advantages of wireless control networks. The RUNES final demonstration included a presentation that focused on IPv6 and network mobility within a control systems

environment. The demonstration scenario describes control platforms that include Mobile IPv6 (MIPv6), Network Mobility (NEMO), IPv6 over Low power WPANs (6LoWPAN), and fixed and mobile IPv6-enabled gateways.

41. "The RUNES Project" brochure,

42. Costis Koumpis, "Wireless Communication Technologies in Industrial Monitoring and Control," March 2006,

43. Socrates Varakliotis, Manish Lad, and Peter Kirstein, "RUNES Final Demo, IPv6 and RUNES," June 19, 2007, U2010_RUNESIPv6DemoStory_v7.pdf.

• Interoperability validation: Development of a new IP protocol version that impacts any equipment speaking IP requires a strong validation to guarantee compliancy and interoperability. This is being achieved for IPv6 through different worldwide efforts that go from validating a specific set of standard's implementation on a given product and software release (for example, IPv6 Ready Logo,, to operations done on large scale and over a long period of time, such as the experimental 6bone infrastructure (1996-2006) and 6NET (2001-2005), resulting in collaterals published for the rest of the industry.

Product development should ideally be strategically guided by the balance between clear industry direction, anticipated project life, and projected value to customers. Many organizations in the business of creating infrastructure platforms that attach to an IP-based network have already completed required changes to make IPv6 a native feature of their products. Others are behind the strategic effort of including IPv6 as a base component of the products they sell. Lagging platform companies are in the potential position of losing market share to others that fully support IPv6. Organizations purchasing infrastructure platforms should insist that the products they buy fully support IPv6 features they will need during the life of the product in their organization.

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