Cisco and partners push IPv6 development

Cisco Systems Inc. on Tuesday announced partnerships with Microsoft Corp., IBM Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Sun Microsystems Inc., and Motorola Inc. to further IPv6 hardware and software development. The efforts are expected to yield advanced functionality and greater access for desktop, back-end, and mobile platforms, signaling a step forward for the nascent standard.

Although IPv6 offers enhanced auto-configuration and security features, most of Cisco's partners plan to focus on the standard's ability to provide more IP addresses. HP, for example, will use IPv6 in its HP-UX11i server to support more users, and Sun has already done the same thing with its Solaris 8 platform.

Similarly, Motorola plans to use IPv6 to deploy more wireless devices in environments such as smart buildings and automobiles. Microsoft will use IPv6 in its October release of Windows XP Professional to address "the exponential growth of the Internet," according to a Microsoft release, and IBM will embed IPv6 in its operating systems, microelectronics, applications, and middleware.

In May, Cisco unveiled IPv6 support in its IOS (Internetwork Operating System) router software. Patrick Grossetete, Cisco's IPv6 product manager, said that Cisco's IOS efforts have laid the groundwork for the new partnerships.

"To be successful with IPv6, you first have to [deploy it] in the network," he said. "The second stage is to get the applications up and running. It's time to focus on the applications."

Grossetete also noted that all of Cisco's partners are expected to roll out IPv6-enabled applications by the end of the year.

Most analysts have conceded that the IPv6 standard will be adopted in countries that are desperate for IP addresses because they have only recently come online, such as China and Russia. Indeed, the Gartner Group research firm has predicted that by 2006, 50 percent of all carriers in the Asia-Pacific region will be running IPv6 in their networks.

At the same time, many have questioned the demand for IPv6 services in North America, but Grossetete countered that North American demand could be spurred by an explosion in mobile devices, which would require additional addresses.

"For example, Microsoft will provide a mobile IP client for IPv6," he said. "So if a customer wants to use mobile IP [and does not use IPv6], they will have to use a mobile IP client from a third party."

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