Monday, June 6, 2011

IPv6 - Third world networkers catching up

So for the last couple of months I've been thinking hard and working out what I think are major issues with IPv6 adoption within EA.

First of all the regulators in the industry are a major barrier to driving some technologies forward. This is especially so for 'new' stuff that doesn't seem to be making money directly. (*this happens everywhere,  justifying network spend is not easy in an organization, but governments and policy makers are there not for profit so I expect more from them).

The competitive environment among the major players eg Safaricom and Airtel makes it quite difficult for collaboration. Without collaboration what might once have been an easy task suddenly becomes a major issue. I don't mind the politics, but a line has to be drawn somewhere.

If there's one thing I miss about working in a pure ISP environment, it was the easy time we had just being able to chat with our 'rivals' technical people about technology. In telco's, even localized within organization collaboration is really difficult.

What might help:
An open membership forum/working group along the likes of go6 in slovania, for a small country <3M, thay have done quite alot with IPv6.

The membership would be open to ISP's, telcoms, regulators, big corporations, an expert council - to steer things, universities and tertiary colleges and individuals within the region. I say region because the challenges are different and we need to learn from our own experiences while borrowing from others who have done this before.

The main goal would probably be to publicize IPv6, arrange for more training along different lines eg applications, networking, System administration etc. They would host local ipv6 deployment labs, an ipv6 academy etc.

They would ensure that people are talking about IPv6. Help with deployments, put together the information for everyone to access, bring the competitors together, bring government to the table, help universities update their offerings etc etc.

Why do East Africans need IPv6 - well because we are part of the world. Guys are doing alot in this area. I know we are doing quite a bit, but the 'alot' we are doing needs to start being deployed with executive blessings - not some enthusiastic techies working alone during their 'free' time.

I keep insisting that if you are an operator with more than 500K subscribers (Safaricom,Airtel,Zuku), offering multiplay services then you need IPv6. It's clean, ensures end to end connectivity for your services, and its cheaper in the long run , you definately need it more urgently than everyone else. How do you think you'll sell connectivity to all those sensors, set top boxes, home automation stuff,handsets,pos's, atm's etc etc that will mainly ride on wireless networks?

Thinking about it, one of them should come out and sponsor monthly IPv6 meetups.

If you are a network designer/sysadmin/programmer, make sure whatever you design is IPv6 ready. Do not for instance buy from a vendor with no support (not roadmap) for IPv6. Do not build a new data center without an IPv6 plan (believe me I saw one very recently).

Go to afnog, so far it offers the best forum for expression. Unfortunately it happens once a year hence the need for something a little bit different. See you there on Tuesday.

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