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March 14, 2005

"IPv6 Network Administration": The Next Generation Internet Protocol Moves from Theory to Practice

Sebastopol, CA--For nearly a decade, the next generation protocol to improve the Internet has been "just two years away." Finally, the future has arrived. Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is ready, it works, and its momentum is starting to build. With huge numbers of users in Asia preparing to go online--along with new Internet-enabled devices such as cars and refrigerators--the current, 20-year-old IP protocol is straining under the weight. IPv6 software has begun to ship with operating systems and routers, and anyone who runs a network needs to learn how to deploy it.

"Various impediments to IPv6 growth have been recently removed," comments Niall Richard Murphy, coauthor of IPv6 Network Administration (O'Reilly US $44.95). "Organizations are adopting it at an increasing rate, and the US Department of Defense mandating its use has been a big boost. All of this points towards a big need for training and education in the next one to two years, and we think our book will fill a significant need in that timeframe."

Murphy, a specialist in IP services and next generation networking, played a role in getting global IPv6 address allocation policies changed a few years ago, which has helped pave the way for IPv6 to replace the current protocol, IPv4. His book, co-written with mathematician David Malone, so far is alone in explaining what administrators need to do with IPv6 in the real world--how to install it (if necessary), configure it, and use it in day-to-day network activities.

"IPv6 deployments are already growing," agrees Malone. "Geeks have begun using IPv6 to solve problems in their own networks. Like WiFi, I would expect industry to begin to pick up IPv6 in a serious way over the next couple years."

IPv6 Network Administration takes a practical approach, focusing on the needs of network and system administrators, but is also of use to anyone who needs to understand the technology. "We hope to show what is good, what is bad, and what is practical," Murphy and Malone explain to readers. "Rather than present a reference, we offer a distillation of what IPv6 means in practice, directly relating it to the hands-on experience of network administrators."

Murphy adds, "Most other IPv6 books we've looked at concentrate primarily on the 'what'--the details of the protocol and implementation--and are very theoretical in focus. We're interested in the 'how' and the 'why.'"

IPv6 has been on the drawing board at the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) for a dozen years. Back then, with the mushrooming of commercial web sites, they were concerned with an impending shortage of IP addresses. With roughly two-thirds of the total IPv4 addresses having been allocated to the US--some ISPs have more addresses than the whole of China--Gartner Inc. research and analysis group estimates that the number of these 32-bit addresses will run out sometime next year.

The 128-bit IPv6 addresses will solve the growth issue for decades to come, but, as IPv6 Network Administration points out, that's just the start of what the new protocol promises. IPv6 also adds more efficient routing, integrated auto-configuration to reduce administrative costs, and better quality-of-services (QoS)--the guarantee that network traffic you send gets there on time. IPv6 also includes built-in features for mobile networking recently tacked onto IPv4, along with end-to-end security.

"From a security perspective, IPv4 is way out of its depth," Murphy and Malone explain. "IPv6 enhances security considerably. Probably the most important contribution it makes is not technical, but a matter of policy: the protocol mandates that an IPv6 stack must not be implemented without supporting some form of encryption."

With IPv6 Network Administration, the authors show intermediate to advanced system administrators how to migrate from IPv4 to IPv6 while maintaining interoperability with older IPv4 networks. They'll learn how to configure, test, and troubleshoot IPv6, how to handle routing, security and other network management issues, and how to provide standard network services, such as email and web access.

"The slow growth of frustration with IPv4 together with the benefits of IPv6 will eventually cause a critical mass of deployment," Murphy and Malone contend. "It's been adopted as a standard by well-known industry players such as Cisco, Microsoft, and Sun, and confidence is increasing that the rightful successor to IPv4--the most popular internetworking protocol in the world--has arrived just when we need it most."

Because IPv6 is backward compatible with IPv4, the two protocols will exist side-by-side for the next several years as adoption takes place one network at a time. IPv6 Network Administration is the most practical way available for administrators who run anything from high-performance 10GB Ethernet networks to low-bandwidth local area and wireless networks to get ahead of the curve.

Early praise for IPv6 Network Administration:

"IPv6 Network Administration is an excellent practical guide to IPv6, with plenty of real-world examples that have served me as useful reference material, as well as great primer when introducing people to IPv6."
--Colm MacCárthaigh, Apache Contributor (particularly IPv6)

"The information in this book is very good and timely."
--Peter Bieringer, Linux IPv6 HOWTO Maintainer

Additional Resources:

IPv6 Network Administration
Niall Richard Murphy and David Malone
ISBN: 0-596-00934-8, 275 pages, $44.95 US, $62.95 CA
order@oreilly.com
1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

About O'Reilly

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