IPv6 application tests show long way to go

File and print works OK, but if email hasn't been tested over it yet, how can IPv6 be ready for the office?


Network engineers completed their first-ever test of common enterprise applications over the world's largest IPv6 network this summer -- and the results were mixed.

Experts were able to get basic office functions -- file sharing, printing and web design, for example -- working with IPv6, but it wasn't easy. As for email, well, that hasn't even been tested yet.

The 13 companies involved in the testing, including Microsoft, HP and Adobe, discovered that making the transition to IPv6 will require a significant amount of training and time for IT staff.

"We found that setting up office applications, especially if you had zero IPv6 knowledge, you would have a hard time learning how to set up these servers," says Erica Johnson, senior manager of software applications at the University of New Hampshire's InterOperability Lab (UNH-IOL), which oversaw the IPv6 tests.

"There's going to be a knowledge gap for network administrators and IPv6 developers," Johnson says. "They are going to have a hard time setting up simple servers for IPv6 networks. I definitely see an HR challenge for setting up these office networks."

Testers also discovered major gaps in the availability of IPv6-ready applications, particularly email.

"What really needs to be tested still is email," Johnson says. "Everyone needs email, and we have not seen anything tested on [the multivendor Moonv6 test bed] yet. That doesn't mean there aren't email implementations for IPv6, but that means they aren't being outwardly tested yet. This is a major gap for offices to be able to complete transition to IPv6."

UNH-IOL officials also haven't seen any proprietary applications run over Moonv6 yet.

"CRM, billing, inventory, databases -- all of these applications are going to have to be verified that they will work over the New Internet," Johnson says. "We also tried to get an IP Multimedia Subsystem architecture to test voice, video and data over IPv6, but we are not seeing that yet. That's another gap for IPv6 in moving forward."

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