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31/10/2017

The Biggest Challenge for IPv6 is Overcoming Obstacles among Business Leaders

Several Latin American and Caribbean organizations and companies that have implemented IPv6 in their networks participated in the second edition of the IPv6 Challenge, a contest promoted by the Latin American IPv6 Forum and supported by LACNIC’s R&D department.

ZGH Group (Chile) was one of the competition’s finalists for the IPv6 deployment work the organization has led in their country. Enzo Picero Sonnenburg, CEO of ZGH Group, noted that the high degree of technical expertise at management level had contributed to the organization’s decision to deploy IPv6.

Nevertheless, in dialogue with LACNIC News, Picero warned that companies in Chile do not consider IPv6 to be an urgent issue because they believe it is not ‘critical’ to their business.

What prompted you to participate in the IPv6 Challenge?

We had already been working on our IPv6 implementation for a year. Unfortunately, the slow penetration of this technology in Chile meant there was no chance of speeding up this process. So the project had to be momentarily placed on hold while we waited for our peers to enable IPv6. This year, LACNIC invited us to participate in an IPv6 technical training course which helped us solve minor details and resume our dual-stack implementation. The course also motivated us to resume the project and conclude this process in which we had already invested quite a bit of time developing. In addition, the course allowed us to meet one of our peers who let us know they had already enabled IPv6 on their network. Thanks to this, we were able to move forward with our own deployment.

How did you approach the IPv6 Challenge?

Our goal was to apply our implementation to the largest possible number of customers and therefore help the world move towards this version of the Internet Protocol, which although currently considered ‘optional’ will sooner rather than later become the global connectivity standard.

What progress has your organization achieved as regards IPv6 in Chile?

We divided our work into four stages or working groups:

  1. 1. Dual-stack implementation for our backbone and publishing our IPv6 network to our transit peers.
  2. 2. Implementation for our own services, such as the www.zgh.cl website, customer portal and different tools we offer.
  3. 3. Implementation for our first line of direct customers, particularly hosting service customers, for whom integration of the network was transparent because we manage the entire service stack. During this stage, IPv6 was enabled for more than 2,000 websites.
  4. 4. Offering the chance to implement IPv6 to customers who are responsible for managing their infrastructure or to those who share such duties, including external wireless networks at our customers’ offices (for example, the wireless network Hipodromo Chile offers its betting agency customers). We enabled IPv6 on the network port for downstream customers such as Gamerlive, LevelUP and other peers to which we offer IP transit, but they are still analyzing the convenience of moving forward with IPv6.

We also offered the option to our entire line of dedicated servers and cloud services, and 20% of these customers have already started implementing IPv6.

Do you think organizations are aware of the need to deploy IPv6 or do they still see this as something for the distant future?

Honestly, in Chile the issue of IPv6 is seen as something completely distant. Many companies do not even have plans to implement IPv6 in their networks in the next three years as they feel there is still room to continue to crowd the IPv4 network. While engineers and experts working in the IT departments of these companies understand the importance of the issue, top management don’t think of this as a priority because it simply is not ‘critical’ to the business. It is also important to highlight that in our country there is a limitation in this regard, as major ISPs do not offer IPv6 to their end customers but only include IPv6 in some of its lines of business, mainly for Internet businesses.

What can you tell us about the internal process that led to your organization’s decision to deploy IPv6? Did the technical department convince management to invest?

In our case, the idea was originally presented by our management. Fortunately, senior ZGH Group management has a high degree of technical expertise, which obviously makes it easier for them to decide on issues such as this. One of the partners is an Computer Systems Engineer specializing in networks who is constantly in search of technological innovations that will allow us to stay at the forefront and lead the datacenter sector based in Santiago, Chile. This made things a lot easier. In addition, it did not require any major investment in technology, as without exception all our current equipment already supported IPv6 in dual-stack mode.

What are the main difficulties when discussing IPv6 implementation?

The lack of initiative among major telcos. These companies share a kind of resistance to the implementation of IPv6, either because of a lack of knowledge, because their devices do not support IPv6, or because, even though they do support IPv6, there is little certainty as to whether things will go as planned or everything will end in complete disaster and a wave of customer complaints. Routers are resource-limited and many are not fully IPv6-compatible.

Do you believe governments should promote IPv6 adoption policies, for example, by offering tax benefits to companies that invest in this technology?

Absolutely. I think that government support through SUBTEL (Chile’s Department of Telecommunications) would be of huge help and would encourage companies to implement IPv6, at least for end users. This would allow those of us who offer content over IPv6 to put our networks to the to test. Currently, traffic received by the 2,000 IPv6-enabled sites represents less than 2% of all traffic. This is disappointing and perhaps the reason why many corporations are reluctant to implement IPv6, as the users of the content they offer use only IPv4. Therefore, I believe that implementing public policies that foster change is vital to achieving significant IPv6 growth.

Is there a lack of IPv6 networks or a lack of IPv6 content?

There is plenty of IPv6 content, but we believe there is a lack of IPv6-enabled networks. In Chile, the local BGP session currently receives a total of 31 IPv6 networks, a number that is negligible compared to the more than 4,500 IPv4 networks routed in Chile. While many content providers (datacenter, CDNs, etc.) offer IPv6, end users do not have access to IPv6, and this instantly stops the potential growth of IPv6 in its tracks.

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