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Connectivity Beyond Digital Products

One year after the first initial trial, World IPV6 is finally becoming a reality. Major telecommunication companies, Internet service providers, Web companies, and networking equipment vendors are teaming up to accelerate the deployment and adoption of the technology in key economic regions of the globe. The Internet Society on June 6 summed it up in a statement noting: “This time it is for real.” It's undoubtedly the case that there's no going back on IPv6, but what does this mean for your business and customers' operations?

For those who may not know or understand the significance of the formal launch of IPv6, here's a primer on what it is and why this is a significant milestone for the continued reliance of the global economy on the Internet. IPv6 succeeds IPv4 and is the latest technical protocol governing the use of the Internet globally. IPv6, as the Internet Society explains in a User’s Guide on its Website, is a:

    …unique 32-bit number that identifies the location of your computer network. It serves as your computer's 'street address,' enabling other computers to find out exactly where you are and deliver information to you.

Why should you bother about such technicalities? Because IPv4, the preceding Internet protocol, has exhausted all its available IP addresses, which means the exploding use and adoption of Web-ready devices, including smartphones, tablet PCs, smart household gadgets, printers, and others, could be crimped by lack of IP addresses for the equipment. The Internet Society said in the above-referenced statement:

    According to the Number Resource Organization, the world officially ran out of IPv4 address in February 2011. All that can be done now is to divide the allocated properties into ever-smaller portions or trade what's already been assigned — moves that could complicate and compromise your privacy.

Communications, data, and networking service providers, manufacturers of telecom equipment, ISPs, and companies like Google, Facebook, and others that are heavily dependent on continued growth in the use of Web applications are keenly aware of this. That's why many of these companies one year ago teamed up to run the first global trial of IPv6, an event now eclipsed by last week's formal launch of the new Internet protocol. This time, more than 400 companies and organizations from around the world took part in the launch. Several, including Akamai, Facebook, Google, and Yahoo have transitioned their entire content to IPv6 from the older protocol.

Several intermediate steps were taken before the global launch. One of the most important, from the end users' perspective for developing economic regions, was probably SemanaIPv6, the South American testing conference for full interoperability between Internet services working with current IPv4 version (still mostly deployed) and the incoming IPv6. The major regional telecom operators, ISPs, and other institutions from all over Latin America and the Caribbean attended the event, which was coordinated from Brazil.

There are implications for design engineers and other innovators too. In a previous blog, I focused on how companies are trying to design connectivity into their products. I called this the Internet of Things. A new paradigm is developing, however, one that in the future assumes all products that have the capability for connectivity will be designed with that goal in mind. This emerging consensus among innovators — announced for the first time by Maurizio Dècina of Italy's Politecnico di Milano — projects a future governed by the phrase “Internet of Things.” This implies that the most common objects used by people and enterprises would have the capability to “plug” into the Internet.

For electronics manufacturers, this future would open up opportunities in all segments of the economy and explode current demand for electronics add-ons in consumer, manufacturing, medical, industrial, and service markets. This possibility to deliver bespoke products was recently discussed at NEXt, the leading European conference for the digital industry. Honestly, I never thought before about the innovations IPv6 could foster by removing constraints inherent in the finite nature of IPv4.

Even in terms of market evolution, according to Jeremy Tai Abbett, creative partner and co-founder of Truth Dare Double Dare, and one of the most active people in the sector, we are going to see an explosion in the number of newly formed startup companies that will explore multi-disciplinary approaches to developing the next generation of Internet of Things products. By the way, not all of these products will be digital devices: Many non-digital things will be enhanced with connectivity tools, including some items you regularly toss into a drawer!

13 comments on “Connectivity Beyond Digital Products

  1. Cryptoman
    June 11, 2012

     

    Just a quick note of correction: the definition on the Internet Society page is based on IPv4, which supports 32 bit addresses. The key advantage of IPv6 is that it supports 128 bit addresses and therefore provides a much larger pool of available device addresses compared to IPv4.

    IPv6 is very important in terms of accommodating vastly more devices and users on the internet as well as providing greater flexibility in allocating addresses and efficiency for routing traffic. IPv6 will also eliminate the need for “Network Address Translation” (NAT) that was widely used to avoid IPv4 address exhaustion.

  2. Matteo Bertozzi
    June 11, 2012

    Exactly Cryptoman, good point; by eliminating NAT, full visibility among users' devices is deployed by adopting IPv6. As natural step no limitation in peering for allowing any-to-any interaction ! 

  3. Matteo Bertozzi
    June 11, 2012

    There is an additional risk to mention, strictly related to limitation of IP addresses. Set of home devices interconnected to Internet by using only one address (as per mostly configuration deployed), increases a lot the risk of contamination of the whole set, by only one un-secure action. Then, to avoid huge risk as per example mentioned, the migration to IPv6 should appear more safety.

  4. prabhakar_deosthali
    June 12, 2012

    If I understand it correctly, IPV6 128 bit addressing will allow STATIC IP address to each connected device instead of the current practice of DYNAMIC on the fly IP address allocation.

    Such Static IP address will make all internet transactions traceable and hence more secure.

    The no of available static IP addresses now becomes virtually limitless.

  5. Matteo Bertozzi
    June 12, 2012

    @p_d: you are right, definetely, that is the reason for calling “Internet of Things” and, as its evolution, “Internet with Things”, the deployment for any-to-any interconnections, without restrictions in addresses. Internet is becoming larger because devices' number connected is increasing and because physical objects are becoming other component, in a such way, “pluggable”.

  6. Cryptoman
    June 12, 2012

    Although technically 128 bits do provide a huge pool of addresses, the number of available addresses are still finite. Therefore, if all devices in the world start using unique static addresses, and given that the increase in the number of IP-enabled devices is growing rapidly, we may find ourselves looking into IPv7 in a few years' time! Dynamic address allocation has its uses and not every device needs a static IP address to be honest. Think of your PC ar home for instance. It really does not need a static address and therefore dynamic addressing would be very useful for that particular use case. Since there are millions of such users, this wold yield a considerable saving in static IPv6 addresses. For most M2M applications, I can definitely see how useful static addressing could be. It will speed up access and greatly simplify the management of a network.

  7. Matteo Bertozzi
    June 12, 2012

    @Cryptoman: how fascinating is your topic ! I totally agree with you, large space on IP pools means fast grow and management is needed. Definetely. In fact, believe it or not, IPv6 is “enlarging” Internet in a way for plugging a devices' number over stars in the universe and number of grains of sand on all the beaches in the world. Enjoy this great scale  on what we are discussing !

  8. t.alex
    June 16, 2012

    We have been talking about IPV6 for maybe a decade. It is silently embedded into products without much notices. Most routers nowadays should already support IPV6 but the use of private address of IPV4 is still so prevelant (i.e. NAT). Firewalls from router will definitely block direct P2P connectivity. IPV6 is definitely beneficial at the larger scale like public server addresses. But for home or office users, i don't see it improves a lot. 

  9. Matteo Bertozzi
    June 16, 2012

    Good point t.alex, you are telling about a really serious topic to address. Several ISPs and Telco Providers have started their migration towards IPv6 focusing, mainly, on the core. As of today, a few only providers in the world, are providing customers with IPv6 in the access, apart mobile operators which are deploying broadband LTE networks. Anyway, for residential users, there are several great possibilities for adopting IPv6 at SOHO (small office / home office) level, without performing any changes within home routers. One of the most famous way is based on TSP protocol and there are several IPv6 networks for IPv6 services for free, it doesn't matter your location. For example, take a look at gogo6 or SixxS  and enjoy v6 !

  10. Matteo Bertozzi
    June 17, 2012

    Even considering any Internet's evolutions achieved, email is and will be one of the most important basic services. If you want to test your IPv6 mail readiness, there are great tools available; one of them is for instance “bouncer”; basically, send an email to “autoreply@v6-mail.com”, if you receive a reply message in your inbox it means your email service works fine and is full compliant to Internet-v6.

  11. Matteo Bertozzi
    June 18, 2012

    @Cryptoman: well, considering your great blog on Cloud, there is a topic a I have forgotten to mention. One of the key point for massive adoption of cloud is the “as-a-Service” paradigm; while IPv6 won't totally replace current version of the Internet protocol, one of the model for allowing truly interworking between the remaining Internet-v4 and the new portion Internet-v6, should be the utilization of IPv6 on demand, as per “as-a-Service” model, that doesn't require to change anything at home router level. This way is announced also as one of the key for definitely launching of Cloud services.

  12. Cryptoman
    June 18, 2012

    Hi Matteo.

    I am glad to hear that you liked my last post. Your suggested service does offer an interesting opportunity for the Cloud service providers. However, I am not sure how the cloud service providers will get the commercial opportunity with the ISPs sitting in the middle.

    I think the IPv4 IPv6 interworking and compatibility issues would have to be addressed by the internet service providers though. In other words, before one even gets access to the cloud services, the compatibility matters would be resolved seamlessly and transparently to the user. Also, as this compatibility issue would be resolved by default, the end user will have no option of getting such a service from cloud service providers.

     

  13. Matteo Bertozzi
    June 18, 2012

    @Cryptoman: you are absolutely right. Unfortunately, once launched worlwide IPv6 past a few days ago, it is proven we are assisting in something that needs to be really optimized in terms of full interworking v4/v6, considering that, by definition, IP even by adopting the new version of the protocol, will continue to work best effort with no-predefined path from source to destination. As consequence, nobody knows in advance which transit portion will go trought for reaching a given server and to by-pass this present issue, it seems v6-aaS could sound as good and quite simple way. Looking forward and congratulation again for the article.

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