MANHASSET, N.Y. The second test phase of the Moonv6 network, the world's largest multivendor IPv6 network, demonstrated the ability of the IPv6 spec to operate with most network elements as well as handling real-time business applications.
The Moonv6 phase II test, running from March 7 to 19, included a test network stretching from Durham, N.C., to California. The test, supported in part by a Defense Department communications agency, showed that the IPv6 network operated with high-speed links, firewalls, routing, common applications and quality-of-service (QoS) provisioning.
The end of the second testing phase formally launches the next version of the Internet Protocol to be used as the backbone for network peer-to-peer communications. "What could not have been achieved with IPv4 is now possible with IPv6, that is, an end-to-end secure network using IPv6," said U.S. Army Maj. Roswell Dixon, IPV6 action officer at the Defense Department. "For the government sector that is a big deal."
IPv6 significantly increases the number of addresses that can be assigned to devices and computers. "In a mobile army, moving on a terrain at 20 miles per hour, you need the implementation of IPv6 in all your communications gear," said Dixon.
End-to-end communication is also important for academic research where half of deployed networks already use IPv6, according to Rick Summerhill, director of backbone Internet infrastructure for Internet2. "We are well along to the full transition to IPv6 by 2008 with the this latest testing phase," Summerhill said.
Network domain name server functionality was provided using Linux, Microsoft, Sun and Hewlett-Packard HP-UX operating systems over the wide-area network between North Carolina and Fort Huachuca, Ariz.
The Moonv6 project is a collaboration between the North American IPv6 Task Force (NAv6TF), the University of New Hampshire's InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL), Internet2, the military's Joint Interoperability Testing Command (JITC) and other DoD agencies.
According to Jim Bound, chairman of the NAv6TF, adoption of IPv6 in Asia and Europe has been a forgone conclusion for several years. Doubts about the technology have persisted in the North American market, however. Asian and European governments and universities have been investing resources to speed IPv6 deployment and integration experience, Bound said.
With DoD backing, Moonv6 aims to provide a platform for the North American IT community to garner IPv6 deployment experience. Routing vendors Procket, Hitachi, Fujitsu and Cisco have agreed to leave equipment at UNH-IOL to keep Moonv6 operating to connect multiple service providers and the U.S. military in a global IPv6 backbone.
"The success rates we've seen here argue that IPv6 is clearing the hurdles to inevitable adoption. We plan to continue industry-wide multivendor testing on a rolling basis," said Ben Schultz, the UNH-IOL managing engineer who organized the test.
Also participating in the second phase of testing were AT&T, Chunghwa Telecom, France Telecom, KDDI Labs USA, Native6, NTT R&D, Root Server Test Bed Agilent, Ixia, Spirent Communications, 6Wind, Check Point, Extreme Networks, Foundry Networks, Hitachi, Hexago, Lucent Technologies, Netscreen Technologies, Nokia, Panasonic and Symantec.
QoS functionality also was demonstrated, proving that IPv6 is capable of allowing different classes of traffic to maintain different priorities. This was achieved by assigning priority to important phone calls or video streams over routine file transfers or e-mail.
Basic firewall and stateful firewall technology, which can be used to prevent network attacks, passed all test security requirements.
Among the basic applications demonstrated over the native IPv6 network topology were Microsoft Windows Media Player and Panasonic's IPv6-controlled, Web-enabled video cameras. Several commercially available media conferencing software applications were also tested, including France Telecom's eConf, an application that turns PDAs equipped with a miniature camera into mobile videophone connected via a wireless video link.
Testing also showed that dual-stack configurations (networks running IPv6 and IPv4 in parallel) could provide the most seamless method of accommodating both protocols over the next several years, when both will need to coexist on the Internet.
Rose Klimovich, vice president and general manager of AT&T VPN Services, said customers can sign up for its IPv6 service. "We will implement new features as demand rises in a year or so," said Klimovich.