ESnet Teams with Juniper Networks to Put IPv6 Into Production Alongside IPv4
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) recently teamed with Juniper Networks to become one of the very first networks to run both IPv4 and IPv6 simultaneously on a large-scale production network connecting hundreds of thousands of scientific researchers around the world.
The successful rollout of the next generation Internet Protocol, known at IPv6, in parallel with the ongoing use of the current Internet Protocol (version 4, also known as IPv4), is an important step in expanding the scope and capabilities of the Internet. ESnet’s dedicated production network made it an ideal testbed for evaluating IPv6 on a large scale. ESnet, which supports research sponsored by the Office of Science in DOE, has been one of the leaders in implementing IPv6 and was assigned the very first production IPv6 addressing prefix by the American Registry for Internet Numbers in 1999.
Last November, Juniper Networks unveiled the industry's first production-ready implementation of IPv6 capabilities across all five of its M-series Internet access and core router platforms and interfaces.
“What we’ve done by working with Juniper is enabled the coexistence of IPv4 and IPv6 on the same routers, the same network interfaces and the same lines,” said Michael Collins, Network Engineering Services Group Leader for ESnet. “This successful effort now allows us to easily provide IPv6 services to sites that want them.”
The Internet Protocol is the basic tool of standardized connectivity on the Internet, allowing various networks and nodes to communicate with each other. IP specifies the format of packets and the addressing system for sending information across the Internet, similar to the standard addressing format used by postal systems.
One of the biggest problems with the current IPv4 is that it uses 32-bit addresses, allowing about 4 billion addresses to be assigned. However, given the necessary assignment practices in use today, the actual number of usable addresses is much smaller. The explosive growth of demand for addresses could result in rationing, requiring new organizations to use patchwork technologies to provide connectivity.
Because IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses, it offers a theoretical maximum of about 256 trillion, trillion, trillion addresses. This should allow the Internet sufficient addressing scalability to keep up with the current and future growth rate, thus allowing for universal addressability and reachability using Internet technology.
Other features designed into IPv6 include built in security, dynamic automatic configuration, multicast, mobility, quality of service and a more efficient format that will ultimately allow routing systems to operate more efficiently.
Getting IPv6 into widespread use presents something of a chicken-and-egg problem. Manufacturers are waiting to incorporate IPv6 technology into routers and user systems until users demand IPv6. Conversely, demand for IPV6 is currently low because there is not widespread support of IPv6 in routers and systems yet.
IPv6 is the result of more than five years of international collaboration by members of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). They have developed a new protocol which will allow the Internet to seamlessly overcome existing barriers to expansion as well as providing new features, such as addressability for many more networks and user/server systems, as well as easy and highly automatic configuration.
The Energy Sciences Network, or ESnet, is a high-speed network serving thousands of Department of Energy researchers and collaborators worldwide. Managed and operated by the ESnet staff at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, ESnet provides direct connections to more than 40 DOE sites and maintains “peering” arrangements with more than 100 other Internet service providers. Funded principally by DOE’s Office of Science, ESnet allows scientists to use unique DOE research facilities and computing resources independent of time and location with state-of-the-art performance levels.
About Juniper Networks, Inc.
Juniper Networks leads the industry in turning network innovation into the reliable delivery of core, edge, mobile and cable Internet services at scale for the New Public Network. Headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, Juniper Networks offers additional information on its product and service offerings at www.juniper.net.