The Second Internet by Lawrence Hughes - HTML preview

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The Chips are Down! However Knowledge is Sadly Missing!

The word “Internet” has become a household name in every language without any translation. Even the French have kept the same name while normally they tend to create a French version for any English name to make it sound like it’s invented in France. Now when you ask normal users how the Internet really functions, be prepared to be surprised by the sparse response and accept their kind apology that  they had no time to delve into this complex world, understandably.

When you ask Internet experts on the current Internet Protocol (IPv4), you will be enriched by their prolific and visionary thoughts of what you can do with the Internet and most probably that it can even solve world hunger. However when you ask these same experts about the new Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), you will find only a few that can answer with high precision how the new Internet based on IPv6 functions, how it will be installed or how it will enhance the current Internet. I guess most Internet experts have by now understood that the visible difference between IPv4 and IPv6 is the size of the address space moving from a limited to virtually unlimited resource (from 4.3 Billion addresses to 340  illion Billion Billion Billion addresses).

While basic IPv6 was designed and standardized between 1994-1998 and deployment has been happening at a slow pace for the last 10 years, it is astonishing to see the same historical deployment patterns of the current Internet Protocol (IPv4). That was designed between 1972-1980 with first deployment in 1981. It had to wait for ten years until 1991 for the Internet to be opened for public use per US Congress agreement. The number of IPv4 experts was quite small and not surprisingly it’s the same level of IPv6 experts that we have now.

The Internet community is asking for killer apps to facilitate justifiable deployment of IPv6. Now, without educated engineers at developers level and ISP levels, it is unreasonable to expect creation of such apps that would benefit from the new built-in features in IPv6. The principal feature of IPv6 is the restoration of the end-to-end model on the back of which the Internet was built on in the first place. The e2e model restores e2e connectivity, e2e security, e2e QoS, node reachability, remote access for maintenance and network management purposes.  Essential features have been tightly redesigned like mobility, Multicast, auto-configuration, to take the Internet where it has not gone before. IPv6 will take the Internet into commodity services adding networking value to services like RF-ID and sensors. IPv6 will open new paradigms for Internet of Things, Smart Grids, Cloud Computing, Smart Cities, 4G/LTE services, etc.

To realise this we need to have engineers professionally trained with IPv6 eyes and not with IPv4 eyes. A recent survey on IPv6 training and studies at universities has demonstrated that IPv6 training and courses are way too embryonic to have any critical impact. Patching IPv6 with IPv4 thinking would be just extending the IPv6 address space to the Internet and not fully exploiting the rich set of new features still invisible to the normal engineer. Deploying IPv6 without upfront integration of IPv6 security and privacy is re-doing the same mistake done in the deployment of IPv4. This is even defeating the prime purpose of fixing thing like security in the Internet. It is estimated that some 20 million engineers are working on the current Internet worldwide at ISPs, corporate and all other public and private organizations and they will need training on IPv6. This is a gigantic task since it’s the first upgrade of the Internet and most probably the last one for decades to come.

There are also tools that address IPv6 issues that have been designed by the author that will play key roles in the deployment of IPv6 such as DHCPv6, DNSSECv6, IDN, etc. The author brings practical and hands-on experience to take enthusiast engineers to the next level with astonishing intricate knowledge pretty rare to find in this diffuse Internet world not knowing who holds the truth.

I encourage everyone to read this book as you will enjoy it like I did as the author is pretty crystal clear, precise, authoritative and written directly from his heart.

Latif Ladid

President IPv6 Forum

Senior Researcher, University of Luxembourg

Emeritus Trustee, Internet Society

UN Strategy Council member