NTT America's IPv6 migration: avoiding routing hell

Jessica Scarpati
28 May 2010
The reckoning day for IPv4 address exhaustion and IPv6 migration is nearing: IPv4 numbers will run out in about 480 days, according to John Curran, CEO of the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), who addressed operators at a recent conference.
While some telecom operators drum up creative workarounds to avoid IPv6 migration, wholesale backbone provider NTT America blazed ahead by retooling its global IP network seven years ago to fully support the 128-bit hexadecimal addressing specification. NTT America's CTO Doug Junkins recently sat down with at Future-Net 2010 in Boston to talk about why and how the operator completed an early IPv6 migration without stepping into a routing apocalypse.
Why did NTT America choose to complete its IPv6 migration nearly nine years before IPv4 addresses would run out?
Junkins: We wanted to make sure we were ready in the core of our network to support IPv6 when people started making the migration. We also believe strongly that the solution of using IPv6 to handle the scaling issues of the Internet is the proper solution for the future, so we wanted to show that it can be done. Our network has been running IPv6 natively since 2003. We had some tunneled IPv6 services long before that, and we wanted to show that it was possible to run IPv6 in a large-scale global network -- that it would work properly and have that ability for our customers to make that migration.
Let's hear all your IPv6 migration secrets. How did you make the transition smoothly?
Junkins: A lot of testing [laughs]. What we did was we first identified the equipment we had in our network at that time and started making a long-term goal that everything would be capable of running IPv6 by a certain timeline. We started working with our equipment manufacturers to find out what equipment we had that would be capable and what equipment we would need to replace. Luckily, very little of it had to be replaced outside of what our normal replacement schedule was. Most of it was just making sure that we had the right software from the equipment vendor and [that we] had done all of the testing in our labs to make sure all of the IPv6 software worked reliably and securely, just as we would [with] IPv4.
What we've done is we've taken all of the normal qualification tests that we do for IPv4 and have extended them to do the same set of functions in IPv6. Now, for every piece of equipment we buy and every piece of software we install on our network, we go through this test suite to make sure that it's completely IPv4 and IPv6 capable.


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