Google explains its IPv6 strategy
The next steps on the road towards the implementation of IPv6 as the new internet protocol include greatly improved peering, less tunnelling of IPv4 data traffic, and proper monitoring. At least, that's the way developer Lorenzo Colitti, one of those handling Google's IPv6 strategy, saw it in his presentation for providers and network experts at the 56th meeting of RIPE, the regional IP Registry for Europe. Google's search engine can already be brought to life at ipv6.google.com with a dancing logo. Of course, the search results do not yet all run via IPv6. Colitti reiterated his assertion made during Google's IPv6 launch in March that the use of the new protocol is feasible. He invited listeners to talk with Google about directly sharing IPv6 applications as long as peering via the net leaves so much to be desired.
At the RIPE meeting, developers talked about some of the things that went on behind the scenes at Google's IPv6 launch and about an in-house Google conference at the beginning of the year, where the search engine was presented with the new protocol along with such other services as Google Mail and Google Calendar. For these services to be accessible to users, however, AAAA entries would have to be created for Google sites, which the firm hesitates to do because of the possible problems for a number of IPv4 users. Google says that limitations for users are out of the question. Nonetheless, as Colitti pointed out, various blogs on the web show how the IPv6 versions of Mail and Calendar can already be used.
Colitti also described a number of other problems his firm has been tracking since the IPv6 search site was launched. For instance, the filtering of TCP header extensions and load balancing do not work well, and the Internet Engineering Task Force has given up completely on NAT-PT (Network Address Translation – Protocol Translation), at least for now. The IETF, however, added (see RFC 2766 and RFC 4966) that NAT-PT is feasible as a technology for the switch from IPv4 to IPv6 addresses and is even indispensable for the transition period, in which IPv6 will be ramped up alongside IPv4. Colitti and his colleagues were dismayed when three routers failed at the launch of Google's IPv6 services. He seemed to relish the excuse that the router manufacturers gave: crashes are more likely with IPv6 because the addresses are longer.
But Colitti said that the lack of proper peering was especially frustrating for launch of the IPv6. He said he could not understand why major backbone providers have not already provided for peering in the next-generation network. "Peering, peering, peering", Colitti repeated – and he offered to work directly with the providers present in order to share services. Then, the blunder that occurred during Google's IPv6 launch could be prevented from happening again – its entire /32 address space (in CIDR terminology) was invisible to many users. Colitti did not believe that tunnels for traffic would help much. He said "That makes troubleshooting extremely hard. Please refrain from tunnelling."
Although there has been no official announcement that Google would be continuing its work on IPv6, such work does continue. "We are working on it and hope that we will be able to offer more", Colitti emphasised. A number of public bodies have already requested information from him and his colleague Erik Kline. For instance, the European Commission is interested in getting Google on board its planned "thematic network" on IPv6. The UK has also asked Google if it would present the economic side of its IPv6 work at an upcoming governmental IPv6 meeting.
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