IPv6 needs optimization for service parity

Jessica Scarpati
SearchTelecom.com
Achieving service parity between IPv4 and IPv6 performance will be a critical challenge to service providers. In theory, telecom IPv6 performance should equal IPv4 performance. In practice, IPv6 service parity is more complicated than enabling the next-generation IP on routers.
 
Subscribers may notice the performance of their favorite websites or services lagging if the traffic must pass through gateways to use transition technologies or if homegrown applications are ill-equipped to support IPv6's 128-bit addressing scheme.
 
If telecom network monitoring tools aren't capturing IPv6 traffic and alerting telecom engineers to problems, they will have to rely on customer complaints to prompt remediation.
 
"If we do our jobs right as providers of Internet connectivity, we should be delivering you IPv6 seamlessly without it even being open for question -- without it being secondary [to] or not as efficient as v4," said Martin Levy, director of IPv6 strategy at Hurricane Electric, which claims to operate the world's largest IPv6-native Internet backbone. "We've wanted everything to be equal and we got to that point, [but that] was, I must say, nontrivial to be honest."
 
Hurricane Electric recently deployed Brocade's NetIron XMR Internet backbone routers and MLXe core routers to natively support IPv4 and IPv6 traffic at up to 100 Gbps. Prior to its first deployment with Foundry Networks four years ago -- before Brocade acquired it -- Hurricane Electric's previous vendor's IPv6 support was "not able to deliver production quality dual-stack v6 services" and "very subservient to v4" support, Levy said, declining to name the vendor publicly.
 
The upgrade is the latest in Hurricane Electric's decade-long efforts to optimize IPv6 performance and ensure service parity, Levy said.
 
"We have a pretty mature -- as do most people -- v4 environment. It's highly commercial, moving large amounts of data, has a significant amount of interconnect, customer growth, etc.," he said. "But what we didn't have was the same for v6. That's what we were after. That was the point of everything. To make sure we could run v6 on par -- not to be substandard, not to be an afterthought, but to be an absolute on-par offering with our standard v4 offering."
 

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