Sophia Antipolis, France Engineers from a record number of companies and organizations hailed the latest Internet Protocol IPv6 protocol implementation event, held here late last week, as a major success.
The event, organized by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute's Plugtests Service, tested more services than ever before, including interoperability of the IPv6 core protocol, mobile IPv6, routing, transition and IP security. For the first time a real IPv6 environment was also available, and a permanent IPv6 link using a pan-European IPv6 network was established with the Universit Libre de Bruxelles in Brussels, Belgium.
This provided remote testing and the opportunity for companies unable to attend to participate from a distance. The experience gained in remote tests will enable ETSI to run a multi-sites event in May 2003, in parallel with the IPv6 Global Summit in Madrid, Spain.
IPv6 extends IP addresses from 32-bits to 128-bits. Supporters of the emerging specification claim this will help avoid an impending shortage of IP addresses as millions of new IP capable mobile devices get connected over the next decade. Others maintain the current IPv4 with some workarounds would suffice and will be able to cope with the new devices and data centric wireless services.
The protocol was developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and will offer virtually unlimited address space, built-in mobility support, the opportunity to offer new Quality of Service guarantees for services and end users (which is critical for video calls and other live applications) andbuilt-in security.
Earlier this month, the European Commission launched the second phase of a programme of support for research into IPv6, and IPv6 is already being deployed in different parts of the world. ETSI says the response to its interoperability event is further evidence of the increasing popularity of the new protocol.
Companies and organizations participating in the event included the pioneering Interoperability Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire, Lucent Technologies, Microsoft, Spirent Communications, Hitachi, IP Infusion, Agilent, Ericsson, Telebit, Samsung and Nokia.
The participation of Microsoft is seen as crucial, since most people involved consider support for IPv6 by the software giant in its products is vital for the protocol to succeed.
Shinsuke Suzuki of Hitachi, Ltd, said: "At this event we saw numerous IPv6 implementations and acquired many tips and considerable knowledge about IPv6 connectivity, prior to the actual deployment, which is enormously beneficial to implementers developing IPv6."
Jari Malinen, Senior R&D Engineer at Nokia, added: "It has been a most useful event in several ways. It is of fundamental importance that the basic work for obtaining reliable interoperation of equipment and validation of new protocols is properly organized. Verifying the conformance of protocol implementations with the respective specifications, finding errors in both implementations and specifications, as well as agreeing on practical methods for increasing robustness and interoperation among implementers is only achieved by practical testing."
Jrme Renner, IPv6 Product Manager at Agilent Technologies, commented : "By providing independent assurance that IPv6 devices are as reliable as IPv4 devices, events like this, coupled with the work of test equipment developers such as Agilent, are accelerating the development and acceptance of IPv6 equipment. We're particularly pleased with the progress achieved on the IPv6 routing protocols: BGP4+, ISISv6, and OSPFv3."
The results of this Plugtest will be fed back to the IETF, the IPv6 Forum, ETSI and the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) for validation and fine-tuning of the protocols.