Posts Tagged 'ISP'

June 11, 2012

"World IPv6 Launch Day" and What it Means for You

June 6, 2012, marked a milestone in the further advancement of the Internet: World IPv6 Launch Day. It was by no means an Earth-shattering event or a "flag day" where everyone switched over to IPv6 completely ... What actually happened was that content providers enabled AAAA DNS records for their websites and other applications, and ISPs committed to providing IPv6 connectivity to at least 1% of their customers by this date.

What's all of this fuss about the IPv6 transition about? The simplest way to explain the situation is that the current Internet can stay working as it does, using IPv4 addresses, forever ... if we're okay with it not growing any more. If no more homes and businesses wanted to get on the Internet, and no more new phones or tablets were produced, and no more websites or applications were created. SoftLayer wouldn't be able to keep selling new servers either. To prevent or lose that kind of organic growth would be terrible, so an alternative had to be created to break free from the limitations of IPv4.

IPv4 to IPv6

The long-term goal is to migrate the entire Internet to the IPv6 standard in order to eliminate the stifling effect of impending and inevitable IP address shortages. It is estimated that there are roughly 2.5 billion current connections to the Internet today, so to say the transition has a lot of moving parts would be an understatement. That complexity doesn't lessen the urgency of the need to make the change, though ... In the very near future, end-users and servers will no longer be able to get IPv4 connections to the Internet, and will only connect via IPv6.

The primary transition plan is to "dual-stack" all current devices by adding IPv6 support to everything that currently has an IPv4 address. By adding native IPv6 functionality to devices using IPv4, all of that connectivity will be able to speak via IPv6 without transitional technologies like NAT (Network Address Translation). This work will take several years, and time is not a luxury we have with the dwindling IPv4 pool.

Like George mentioned in a previous post, I see World IPv6 Launch day as a call-to-action for a "game changer." The IPv6 transition has gotten a ton of visibility from some of the most recognizable names on the Internet, but the importance and urgency of the transition can't be overstated.

So, what does that mean for you?

To a certain extent, that depends on what your involvement is on the Internet. Here are a few steps everyone can take:

  • Learn all you can about IPv6 to prepare for the work ahead. A few good books about IPv6 have been published, and resources like ARIN's IPv6 Information Wiki are perfect places to get more information.
  • If you own servers or network equipment, check them for IPv6 functionality. Upgrade or replace any software or devices to ensure that you can deliver native IPv6 connectivity end-to-end without any adverse impact to IPv6 users. If any piece of gear isn't IPv6-capable, IPv6 traffic won't be able to pass through your network.
  • If you are a content provider, make your content available via IPv6. This starts with requesting IPv6 service from your ISP. At SoftLayer, that's done via a zero-cost sales request to add IPv6 addresses to your VLANs. You should target 100% coverage for your services or applications — providing the same content via IPv6 as you do via IPv4. Take an inventory of all your DNS records, and after you've tested extensively, publish AAAA records for all hostnames to start attracting IPv6 traffic.
  • If you are receiving Internet connectivity to your home or business desktops, demand IPv6 services from your upstream ISP. Also be sure to check your access routers, switches and desktops to ensure they are running the most recent code with stable IPv6 support.
  • If you are running equipment such as firewalls, load balancers, IDS, etc., contact your vendors to learn about their IPv6 support and how to properly configure those devices. You want to make sure you aren't limiting performance or exposing any vulnerabilities.

Starting now, there are no more excuses. It's time to get IPv6 up and running if you want to play a part in tomorrow's Internet.


January 19, 2012

IPv6 Milestone: "World IPv6 Launch Day"

On Tuesday, the Internet Society announced "World IPv6 Launch Day", a huge step in the transition from IPv4 to IPv6. Scheduled for June 6, 2012, this "launch day" comes almost one year after the similarly noteworthy World IPv6 Day, during which many prominent Internet businesses enabled IPv6 AAAA record resolution for their primary websites for a 24-hour period.

With IPv6 Day serving as a "test run," we confirmed a lot of what we know about IPv6 compatibility and interoperability with deployed systems throughout the Internet, and we even learned about a few areas that needed a little additional attention. Access troubles for end-users was measured in fractions of a percentage, and while some sites left IPv6 running, many of them ended up disabling the AAAA IPv6 records at the end of the event, resuming their legacy IPv4-only configuration.

We're past the "testing" phase now. Many of the IPv6-related issues observed in desktop operating systems (think: your PCs, phones, and tablets) and consumer network equipment (think: your home router) have been resolved. In response – and in an effort to kick IPv6 deployment in the butt – the same businesses which ran the 24-hour field test last year have committed to turning on IPv6 for their content and keeping it on as of 6/6/2012.

But that's not all, folks!

In the past, IPv6 availability would have simply impacted customers connecting to the Internet from a few universities, international providers and smaller technology-forward ISPs. What's great about this event is that a significant number of major broadband ISPs (think: your home and business Internet connection) have committed to enabling IPv6 to their subscribers. June 6, 2012, marks a day where at least 1% of the participating ISPs' downstream customers will be receiving IPv6 addresses.

While 1% may not seem all that impressive at first, in order to survive the change, these ISPs must slowly roll out IPv6 availability to ensure that they can handle the potential volume of resulting customer support issues. There will be new training and technical challenges that I suspect all of these ISPs will face, and this type of approach is a good way to ensure success. Again, we must appreciate that the ISPs are turning it on for good now.

What does this mean for SoftLayer customers? Well the good news is that our network is already IPv6-enabled ... In fact, it has been so for a few years now. Those of you who have taken advantage of running a dual-stack of IPv4 and IPv6 addresses may have noticed surprisingly low IPv6 traffic volume. When 6/6/2012 comes around, you should see that volume rise (and continue to rise consistently from there). For those of you without IPv6 addresses, now's the time to get started and get your feet wet. You need to be prepared for the day when new "eyeballs" are coming online with IPv6-only addresses. If you don't know where to start, go back through this article and click on a few of the hyperlinks, and if you want more information, ARIN has a great informational IPv6 wiki that has been enjoying community input for a couple years now.

The long term benefit of this June 6th milestone is that with some of the "big guys" playing in this space, the visibility of IPv6 should improve. This will help motivate the "little guys" who otherwise couldn't get motivated – or more often couldn't justify the budgetary requirements – to start implementing IPv6 throughout their organizations. The Internet is growing rapidly, and as our collective attentions are focused on how current legislation (SOPA/PIPA) could impede that growth, we should be intentional about fortifying the Internet's underlying architecture.


February 3, 2011

Access Logs: A Look at Egypt's Current Usage

Social unrest can affect our ability to serve our customers. In Egypt, the government recently cut off nearly all access to the Internet, so customers trying to access our servers from Egyptian IP space have been largely unsuccessful. How unsuccessful?

I gathered all the netblocks assigned to Egypt (currently around 5.8 million unique IPv4 IP addresses), and I queried our customer portal access logs and API for records of those IPs. We saw a massive drop on 1/28/2011. This coincides with reports on most major news networks that Egypt’s Internet access had been crippled. Prior to the January 28, the traffic was fairly typical.

Then this happened:

Between January 28 and February 2, about 0.2% of the traffic we normally see from Egypt reached our network. That means 99.8% of traffic was stifled by the network shutdowns.

As the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, the Egyptian government restored Internet service, and our logs clearly corroborate that report.


September 8, 2008

Meat SoftLayer

It has been a bit since I last “bloghogged” so I figured it was time to see what I could come up with. There is just so much going on in the world that I am not sure I can control myself and keep my blog on topic. You have all seen it in the past where I go from topic to topic and then finally wrap it all up with nonsense in the end. I can only assume this one will be the same.

My choices are the Olympics and how they turned out, politics, servers, outsourcing of course, customer service, 4-year old flag football, or meat. It is a tough choice but I think this one just has to be about meat.

The SoftLayer corporate offices are really close, I dare say too close, to a little place called Rafain. Warning, if you click the link you will get hungry. In case you haven’t ever been to a Brazilian Steakhouse (Churrascaria) then you might want to consider finding one close to you and giving it a shot. It is servers, the human ones, walking around with 7 to 15 types of grilled meat on long metal skewers holding big sharp knives. They slice the meat of your choice off and it lands on your plate. It’s the point and click of steakhouses. Instant steakification! You can of course choose to eat fillers along the way starting with salad, or great little cheese rolls and you are also offered mashed potatoes and fried bananas. Some people eat that stuff but I go straight for the money meat. Beef! Lots of beef. There is Spicy Beef, Garlic Beef, Top Sirloin, Flank, and the house special. They are always hot and fresh off the grill. They have other meats like chicken, pork, leg of lamb, and sausage but you can get those anywhere. As our CEO would say, “If a meat is low fat by design, there is no point in eating it!”

How is the service you ask? Amazing. You have a small card that is red on one side and green on the other. If you have it on the green side they will keep offering you meat until you explode or you get smart and turn the card to red. Red means, “I am taking a small break in the action but far from done!” The real fun is when they bring you a clean plate and you suddenly forget that you are about to fall out of your chair and need assistance to get back in it and start all over and eat more.

Here is where the stretch begins. How am I going to tie this into SoftLayer and outsourcing and why we are the best at what we do? Well, I’m not. This blog is simply about Meat.

Ok, last funny story. A few of the crew here at SoftLayer worked together back in the early 90’s, general ISP technical support stuff. We worked long shifts and usually ate at our desks. We would occasionally sneak out and go to a local Chinese Buffet but we were on a serious time crunch. We could eat 4 or 5 plates of food in 10 minutes easily. We came up with a term we still use today, CPM (Calories Per Minute). We had fun little sayings like, “The CPM’s were very high that day my friend” (thanks Seinfeld!) and many others like it. I can only assume that the Chinese buffet, as far as calories are concerned, would still beat out “instant steakification” on the CPM scale, but I can assure you we would need a couple of SoftLayer servers and some serious Excel equations to figure out the numbers.

Eat less Chicken!


September 3, 2008

IPv4 vs. Big Oil

Everyone is complaining about the price of gas at the pump. It’s a plain fact that it cost more than it used to fill up. Why is that? If you picked a handful of economists at random you will likely get a different story from each of them. One often mentioned of late is the oil speculators market. Not being a business guy, I hadn’t really ever paid attention to the oil futures market; much less the futures market in general. The speculation on oil prices got me thinking. Why do people think oil is going to go up in the future?

Most likely because it is a finite resource, and at some point it will become unobtainable through reasonable means. I personally think that the advances in technology will keep the black gold flowing for quite a while, but I am no where near naïve enough to believe that an infinite amount of oil can be contained within the finite confines of the globe we call Earth. Still, there is enough out there either undiscovered or untapped to keep our civilization plugging along well after Al Gore has melted all the ice caps with his private jet.

This led me to consider the impending depletion of the IPv4 address pool. Unlike the supply of magical natural resource oil, the available IPv4 address space cannot be augmented by new technology. There are no hidden underground caches to be found. It’s not like an expedition of the coast of Chile will stick a pipe in the ground and IP addresses will start spewing out. For IPv4, what you see is what you get, and what I see is the last 20% of a shrinking pool.

In theory, the answer is easy. Everyone just needs to jump on the new IPv6 train instead of riding around in their old fashioned IPv4 cars. The practicality of that solution is not quite that simple. That fancy IPv6 train is very limited right now. It currently requires special tracks, and they only go certain places, none of which is grandma’s house. Ultimately, user demand will force local ISPs to start supporting IPv6. In the great dance known as capitalism, they ISPs will bow to user demand and provide this service. However, between now and that future lies a pinch.

It’s that last squeeze of toothpaste before you have to run to the store and get another tube. The hosting industry, being the most voracious of IPv4 address consumers, is actively working towards IPv6 deployment. The real question is how long until the home ISPs start supporting it. All the address space in the world doesn’t help if the consumers can’t browse there. And to that end, doesn’t all that legacy IPv4 address space become a precious commodity? In the not so distant future, is there a speculative market for IPv4 real-estate? I see it as a real possibility. I just wouldn’t want to be the one owning that venture when the last telecom announces IPv6 support.


August 30, 2008

Telephone Support

What can be more aggravating then paying for a service that does not work? The other night I got home after a long day and go to check my email. It doesn’t take long before I realize I am unable to connect to my mail server. In a few moments, I realize my internet service is down. So like any person would in this situation, I call my ISP to see what is going on. I promptly receive a message that the DSL department is closed and I am given their working hours and am told to call back then, alternately I can email them and they will respond as quickly as they can. At this point I am floored; an ISP that does not have 24/7 phone support. As my email is down, it’s not like I can just send off an email to them which I assume wouldn’t be answered anyway until the next day. What choice do I have, I wait until the next day.

Upon calling the next day, I am greeted with a wonderful message telling me all technicians are currently assisting other customers and that my call will be answered when someone is available. After 30 minutes on hold, I finally get to talk to a live person. I go through the steps to prove I am the owner of the account and to my surprise I am told I am being transferred to someone who can help me and am immediately dumped into another call queue. So I am thinking ok, they have someone who just verifies the user and passes them to a tech. When the tech answers, I yet again go through all verification on my account (what was the purpose of the first person I talked to?). I explain that my internet connection isn’t working and explain to him the steps I have taken such as rebooting the DSL modem and router. I am told that I need to reboot the router, rather than explain I have already done this I do it again. I them again do the same to the modem even though again I have already done this.

Things go downhill from this point. I am then asked what OS I am running, not really sure what this has to do with my router not having an internet connection but I answer without thinking and tell the tech Linux. This promptly results in the tech telling me my OS is not support and that’s the problem, I need to run Windows or a Mac to use their service. I attempt to explain to the tech that it’s not an OS issue; the router doesn’t have an internet connection. This resulted in a stone wall, the tech just repeated that the OS I was using does not work with their system. I tried to explain to him that I have been using Linux on their system for over a year now. After arguing this with me for over 10 minutes, I ask to be escalated to a level 2 technician. After sitting on hold for another 10 minutes, the phone start to ring and I am dumped into another call queue.

At this point, I feel I am justifiably upset. Another tech answers and yet again I verify all information on my account. I am again asked to reboot the router and modem. Based on the way they are asking, I can tell the tech is simply reading from a script. I interrupt the tech and tell him that I have already gone through this with the last tech and while I realize it’s not his fault, I need to speak with his supervisor. I am put on hold again, just as I think I am going to be dumped into yet another call queue; a new voice picks up telling me that he is the supervisor on duty. I explain the entire situation to the person. He apologies for the inconvenience and I am forwarded directly to a level 3 technician. After only 2 minutes on the phone with the level 3 technician I am informed that there is an outage in my area and that they expect it to be corrected shortly.

When I finally got off the phone, I realized that I had spent over 2 hours on the phone and spoken to 5 different people just to be told there was a network outage. This is when I think to our own SoftLayer support system and just couldn’t imagine support running any other way. Sitting in a call queue is so incredibly frustrating, especially when your end up talking to someone who doesn’t actually know anything other than to read a script and hope something in their checklist fixes your issue. Here at SoftLayer, we have no call queues to get stuck in. When a technician answers the phone, you have just that a technician who will actually take the time to work on an issue with you to get it corrected. There is nothing more satisfying then calling into a support department, having your call answered immediately by a person who can actually help you. I am honored to be a part of this incredible support team that strives to make the customers life as easy as possible. Now if only other companies could follow this path making telephone support something you can count on rather than something you dread having to use.


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