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IT Leadership // Team Building & Staffing
10:10 AM
Edward Horley
Edward Horley
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The IPv6 Skills Crisis

As IPv6 adoption ramps up, there aren't nearly enough experts and trainers to fulfill the demand. Here's how to start educating yourself.

The adoption rate for IPv6 has picked up dramatically in the last year. That's the good news. The bad news is that the skills of operators who have to deal with the protocol are not keeping up at all. We are in a serious situation where skills do not match operational requirements.

The hard reality is that there are nowhere near enough IPv6 trainers and educators to fulfill the inevitable demand for IPv6 expertise. This should concern both the operators of networks and the businesses that use them. The knowledge requirement for IPv6 cuts across IT disciplines: Help desk, systems, storage, databases, networking, and application developers all need to know at least something about it.

The California IPv6 Task Force that I co-chair has identified education for IPv6 as one of the key roadblocks preventing adoption of the protocol.

[IPv6 will play a big part in making IoT happen. Read IoT, IPv6 Coming To The Connected Home.]

This year one of our principal goals is to improve the education situation. One way we are accomplishing this is to encourage our IPv6 colleagues to get out on the road at major conferences to talk about IPv6.

I presented Getting Serious About IPv6: Go Big or Go Home at Interop in Las Vegas earlier this year, and I'm excited Interop invited me to New York City in October to present the session IPv6 Bootcamp: Get Up To Speed Quickly.

The goal is to continue to move the ball forward for Interop attendees and help them gain some quick, tactical knowledge about IPv6. They'll understand what IPv6 is doing, why it behaves the way it does, and what options they have to control its behavior.

IPv4 has been around for a long time. There's a large body of knowledge around operating and maintaining networks that run IPv4, and many people are comfortable with the protocol. Our challenge is to get all those people to the same comfort level with IPv6.

A single session at Interop isn't enough to learn everything about IPv6, but I hope it will be your first step to gain more skills and get more comfortable with the protocol. Perhaps it will jumpstart your interest in IPv6.

Over the years I've talked to a lot of people about why they are (or aren't) deploying IPv6. One of the biggest challenges is the lack of good educational resources. So I've put together a list of IPv6 resources, including books and websites that might help you. This isn't a complete list, but it will get you started.

In the interest of full disclosure, titles with an asterisk indicate I was either an author, a technical reviewer, or involved in the book in some way. I've listed titles by publication year starting with the most recent.

  • IPv6 Address Planning by Tom Coffeen (O'Reilly Media, out in late 2014) *
  • IPv6 Essentials, Third Edition by Silva Hagen (O'Reilly Media, 2014) *
  • Practical IPv6 for Windows Administrators by Ed Horley (Apress, 2013) *
  • Understanding IPv6, Third Edition by Joseph Davies (Microsoft Press, 2012) *
  • IPv6 Fundamentals: A Straightforward Approach to Understanding IPv6 by Rick Graziani (Cisco Press, 2012)
  • IPv6 in Enterprise Networks by Shannon McFarland, Muninder Sambi, Nikhil Sharma, and Sanjay Hooda (Cisco Press, 2011)
  • Planning for IPv6 by Silvia Hagen (O'Reilly Media, 2011)
  • Day One: Exploring IPv6 by Chris Grundermann (Juniper Networking Technologies Series, 2011) 
  • Day One: Advanced IPv6 Configuration by Chris Grundermann (Juniper Networking Technologies Series, 2011)
  • IPv6 Network Administration by Niall Richard Murphy and David Malone (O'Reilly Media, 2009)
  • IPv6 Security by Scott Hogg and Eric Vyncke (Cisco Press, 2008)   
  • Deploying IPv6 Networks by Ciprian Popoviciu, Eric Levy-Abegnoli, Patrick Grossetete (Cisco Press, 2006)
  • Running IPv6 by Iljitsch van Beijnum (Apress, 2005) (This is an older book -- there have been a lot of updated standards since it was published -- but it's a great reference.) 
  • Global IPv6 Strategies: From Business Analysis to Operational Planning by Patrick Grossetete, Ciprian Popoviciu, and Fred Wettling (Cisco Press, 2004)

Here are some links to excellent online content:

Best of luck in your IPv6 journey, and I hope to see you at Interop New York this fall.

In its ninth year, Interop New York (Sept. 29 to Oct. 3) is the premier event for the Northeast IT market. Strongly represented vertical industries include financial services, government, and education. Join more than 5,000 attendees to learn about IT leadership, cloud, collaboration, infrastructure, mobility, risk management and security, and SDN, as well as explore 125 exhibitors' offerings. Register with Discount Code MPIWK to save $200 off Total Access & Conference Passes.

Ed Horley is the Practice Manager for Cloud Solutions and the Practice Lead for IPv6 at Groupware Technology in the San Francisco Bay Area and is the author of Practical IPv6 for Windows Administrators from Apress. He is actively involved in IPv6 serving as the co-chair ... View Full Bio
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D.M. Romano
D.M. Romano,
User Rank: Moderator
7/31/2014 | 8:11:41 AM
Appreciate you sending along the links to some good IPv6 sites. I do find it interesting how there's so much talk about needing to migrate to IPv6 for obvious reasons, but many enterprises just aren't ready to make the move. And not just them, but some of the products you buy nowadays are prioritizing the technology due to low demand. 
User Rank: Ninja
7/24/2014 | 9:35:36 AM
Re: The IPv6 Skills Crisis
Thanks for sharing this, Edward. The mixed response here in the comments already says a lot, I think, about IPv6 and what it means to IT people. It's an important piece of the modern puzzle, and from a "news" perspective it may already be a fixture - it may be old news, but that doesn't mean that that's the case for every professional or every organization. It might be the case where, as with many other technologies, people might be using 'just enough' of a new technology to get their jobs done, and might be a little of the loop. Who can blame them? The thing is, though, that what's needed for 'just enough' might be increasing out of their knowledge base.

To that end, I appreciate the idea of a concerted effort to pring professionals around the country up to speed. I had no idea that something like a national IPv6 board existed, but it's a good thing that it does. Kudos to you guys for all the hard work! It looks like you, personally, have put in a lot of mileage with the talks and the conferences - that's a lot of dedication to one topic! Maybe I'll see you at Interop New York. In the meantime, this is a great list of resources. I'm especially happy at the inclusion of such a comprehensive-looking Wiki.
User Rank: Ninja
7/24/2014 | 12:33:34 AM
Re: Lack of planning on steroids
"It will happen, I knew it, but I did not knew that it would happen so fast" -we want to avoid it, but it just keep happening. Everything either catches us either over prepared or off-guard. IT would is so dynamic!
User Rank: Ninja
7/23/2014 | 6:30:04 PM
Tech needs to be more inclusive
A most excellent write up with a great list of resources - I would like to see more online education opportunities for IPv6 along the lines of Dash as opposed to stratospherically priced bootcamps, which is a big reason for most alleged skills shortages, along with a bigger, much more pronounced denouncing of the ever pervasive ageism/sexism that seems to define the greater portion of IT work in the US.  I strongly suspect that if IT was not regarded as the exclusive, elite domain of male employees under age 25, perhaps there wouldn't be such a shortage of skilled workers.   
Lorna Garey
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
7/23/2014 | 1:50:32 PM
Re: Lack of planning on steroids
This seems like one of those "it probably won't be an issue, but ..." situations. Maybe you're right for your company, but what if you're not? Thread is IPv6. Translation seems iffy with security protocols, including IPSec. Also, Vint Cerf said so on Colbert!!  Of course, I also always keep bottled water, batteries, and canned goods on hand. 
User Rank: Ninja
7/23/2014 | 1:18:08 PM
Re: Lack of planning on steroids
This is a tough one, Lorna, for those of us who support manufacturing businesses. IPV4 depletion is not an issue, we use a private 10.29.x.x network. I suppose there are some technical aspects of NAT which are theoretically flawed but it has been working fine for us for years, with nothing on horizon which will change that.

This is one of those projects which all the work/cost brings absolutely nothing to the business we could not do before. Very similar to Y2K, except there you could identify issue which would disrupt applications, forcing you to deal with it.

Here, I am not so sure. If our proxy server which implements NAT can translate IPV6 outside firewall to our internal IPV4, I'm not sure there will ever be much motivation to switch. Proxies should easily be able to do that, if they already aren't.

Will be interesting to see how this plays out. May be that IPV4 never really goes away for people like us, just like HTML5 does not prevent you from writing/running the old HTML versions if you want.
Lorna Garey
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
7/23/2014 | 10:55:18 AM
Lack of planning on steroids
It's not like the tech community didn't see this problem coming -- it's been years of warnings of v4 address depletion and the inadvisability of depending on NAT. And yet, here we are. I've even seen debate about whether gateways can handle IoT traffic without forcing us to deal with those pesky long v6 addresses. Good thing for IT, I guess, that LOB leaders are largely not aware of the problem ... yet. 
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