Juniper shipping 'production-ready' IPv6

Juniper Networks Inc. Wednesday said it has been shipping IPv6 for two weeks, since the introduction of the latest release of its router operating system.

IPv6 is integral to JUNOS 5.1, the operating system for Juniper's entire line of access, edge and core routers, says Kevin Dillon, director of product marketing at the company.

The IPv6 protocol extends Internet growth by increasing the number of available addresses for Internet-enabled devices and delivering enhancements to IPv4 in terms of security, quality of service (QoS) and autoconfiguration capabilities.

A number of Juniper's international customers have established IPv6 backbones, especially carriers and mobile operators in Japan, where the protocol's addressing and wireless mobility enhancements are most needed.

Indeed, demand among international users, especially Japan, and increasing use of mobile devices for accessing IP data and the Internet, are two key market drivers for IPv6. Juniper says industry analysts, including International Data Corp. and Ovum Ltd., forecast that there will be up to 400 million mobile Internet users over the next three years. This large influx of users will consume vast amounts of IP addressing space, which will necessitate IPv6 deployment, Juniper says.

Mobile Internet usage in the Asia Pacific region alone was up 52 percent in 2000, compared with 1999, Juniper says, citing data from Gartner Group Inc. The number of mobile phones in the world will exceed one billion in 2003, Juniper says, again citing Gartner research.

Juniper says carriers can run IPv6 and IPv4 stacks simultaneously on their Juniper routers. This will facilitate a disruption-free transition from the old protocol to the new, without performance degradation, Juniper claims.

With regard to newer IPv4 technologies like Multi-protocol Label Switching, IPv6 doesn't necessitate any special handling with MPLS labeling, Juniper says. MPLS can be used as a tunneling mechanism to carry IPv6 packets over IPv4 infrastructures. Juniper supports that today via its MPLS Circuit Cross Connect encapsulation capability, but the IETF is still working on standards-based approaches to this tunneling scheme, Juniper says.

Juniper disclosed three customers that are currently wrapping up IPv6 trials or using the protocol in production networks: GIP RENATER, an international research network based in France; 6TAP, an IPv6 exchange point in Palo Alto, where North American, European and Asian IPv6 networks peer; and France Télécom Research and Development.

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