As you certainly know, Service Providers are taking a serious look at how to migrate towards IPv6, and how to coexist with IPv4 for many years to come. They are being forced to act for several reasons, not simply due to IPv4 address depletion (although that isn’t a minor consideration: IPv4’s address space of 4.3 billion is largely exhausted; IPv6 allows for 340 undecillion addresses – 340 x 1036! That’s a lot of addresses). In many cases governments are requiring support of IPv6, as are certain industries, notably the financial services sector. IPv6 has now moved from a trend to a reality.
Operators have several obvious concerns: as IPv6 is opened to new users, how do we continue to connect older devices that only support IPv4? How do we continue to reach content that remains IPv4 only? How do we support legacy IPv4 applications and devices? How do we maintain existing services through the migration? How do we run both protocols in parallel? How do we minimise the impact on our operations of adding IPv6? How do we assess and address any impact to the existing set of applications – while catering to the IPv4 address depletion? And, perhaps near the top of the list of questions, how do we minimise our Capex investment?
The good news is that there is an answer to all of these questions. The bad news is that it is a different answer for each network. I wish I could tell you exactly what you should do, but I cannot. However, there are actions you can take to figure out the best route for you, based on where you are and where you need to get to.
The key is to call in the experts. You probably have some great IP experts on staff, but odds are they haven’t been focusing on IPv4/IPv6 migration and coexistence issues, and most likely they don’t yet have any real world experience in deploying these solutions. And they probably have an awful lot on their plates, anyway. On the other hand, Juniper Networks has a professional service practice focused on just this sort of service provider core network issue. Our consulting team has been dealing with these issues for many years, and has worked on a large number of engagements. That experience is what allows them to understand your unique situation, and make the appropriate recommendations to suit your environment and provide an assurance in ensuring service continuity.
Vinod Joseph is our practice lead for this area in EMEA. He tells me “a typical engagement will start with a one-day workshop with the customer. I’ll start by talking about potential Carrier-Grade NAT solutions for IPv4 address depletion and IPv6 adoption, like NAT444, DS-Lite or IPv6 Rapid Deployment (6RD). We usually move on to IPv6 Enablement/Readiness and also discuss IPv6 transport options such as Dual Stack, 6PE and 6VPE for core readiness. I also talk about subscriber management for IPv6 and its integration with multicast wherever applicable, and usually go through an IPv6 case study. Then we talk about the customer’s particular situation and we start to focus in on building the best solutions.”
After this initial consulting phase, a consultant will help design and test the IPv6 solution. This usually starts with a full Network Audit and Assessment to capture product and service requirements, and to ensure that we have a complete inventory of the applications and end-user services; it might continue with high and low level designs and sometimes with a live proof of concept demonstration.
One of the most important areas where we work with customers is often in migration planning. Although all Juniper routers are able to run IPv6 as a standard feature, they have tremendous flexibility in your choices for implementation. And since this is going on in your core network, you don’t want to take any risks with the implementation. Vinod says “I work very closely with the customer team during migration. We don’t ever want them to feel that they are facing this job alone.”
If you are starting to look at IPv6 for your network, or planning a move to large-scale deployment, you certainly want to look at the archived Juniper IPv6 webinars from last year, or the CGNAT webinar held just a few days ago in April 2012. Also please don’t hesitate to engage our experts. You can truly reduce your risk and get a faster deployment – improving your time to revenue. The key is to quickly move the network away from a state of transition. Leveraging the expertise and experience of our consultants will also put less pressure on your resources.
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