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Internet Repotting About to Start!

February 4th 2008 will be the day the repotting of the internet finally starts. A milestone of sorts for some people who spent a good part of the last five years getting us this far. It should now be finally possible for a IPv6 only device to have a chance to communicate on the internet. Indeed, today, IPv6 address information is not included in most root DNS servers. Some good write-ups are already appearing on the subject covering the relevance of this development.

Excitement (at least for some) started with a late December IANA e-mail to various distribution lists stating that “On 4 February 2008, IANA will add AAAA records for the IPv6 addresses of the four root servers whose operators have requested it”. No mention though on which of the 12 root growers would provide much needed air and space to avoid a future of stunted growth and ultimate withering of the internet.

Responsibility to assure a viable root system largely lies with the DNS Rootserver System Advisory Committee (RSSAC), one of the Committees under ICANN. This Committee first met in 1999 and is normally held in conjunction with IETF meetings. IPv6 support in the root system first became a serious subject late 2003 in Minneapolis. Maybe a coincidence but DoD had announced earlier that year mandatory IPv6 support by 2008. Anyway, a cursive reading of five years of RSSAC minutes gives a glimpse of the sometimes tedious progress. In June 2004 we see ICANN receive approval to add “v6 glue” to TLD’s with the KR, JP and FR zones added. In November 2004 it is pointed out that a recommendation for native IPv6 transport for the root servers is required as well as for IPv6 anycast. It then takes until the July 2006 Montreal meeting to see an agreed recommendation and by year end some roots had IPv6 reachability while some announced some IPv6 prefixes. Another year and three meetings later (Vancouver December 2nd 2007), the minutes state that four root server operators have demonstrated IPv6 capability and formally requested that ICANN add them to the root.

As Akira Kato of the WIDE project, a key participant and prime mover on IPv6 root issues within RSSAC for many years, eloquently put in his short and to the point presentation [PDF] at the APAN (Asia Pacific Advanced Network) meeting in Hawaii two weeks ago : “We had looooong discussion”.

Congratulations to the four competent and farsighted gardeners who started the repotting of four root servers: F, H, K and M. And it looks as if the Master Gardener title should go to M for planning to include anycast right off the bat!

As for the other ones? Time to adapt or if this proves too hard, time to retire and maybe take some gardening courses.

Why get excited as there are practically no IPv6 only devices yet, some will bemoan. Well, one can hear a distant rumbling of such devices coming, alongside the mobile internet and machine to machine communication, portending continuing growth of services and revenues in the telecomm sector.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in these articles are solely those of the author and are not in any way attributable to nor reflect any existing or planned official policy or position of his employer in respect thereto.

By Yves Poppe, Director, Business Development IP Strategy at Tata Communications

(Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in these articles are solely those of the author and are not in any way attributable to nor reflect any existing or planned official policy or position of his employer in respect thereto.)

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