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Google Engineers Say IPv6 Is Easy, Not Expensive 233

Posted by timothy
from the step-one-is-hire-smart-engineers dept.
alphadogg writes "Google engineers say it was not expensive and required only a small team of developers to enable all of the company's applications to support IPv6, a long-anticipated upgrade to the Internet's main communications protocol. 'We can provide all Google services over IPv6,' said Google network engineer Lorenzo Colitti during a panel discussion held in San Francisco Tuesday at a meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Colitti said a 'small, core team' spent 18 months enabling IPv6, from the initial network architecture and software engineering work, through a pilot phase, until Google over IPv6 was made publicly available. Google engineers worked on the IPv6 effort as a 20% project — meaning it was in addition to their regular work — from July 2007 until January 2009."
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Google Engineers Say IPv6 Is Easy, Not Expensive

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  • Yep.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by UPZ (947916) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @02:43PM (#27345803)
    Things are easy when you're GOOG
  • easy? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Scrameustache (459504) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @02:44PM (#27345831) Homepage Journal

    I wouldn't call something that take 18 months to do "easy".
    Maybe that's why I don't work at google :-|

    • Re:easy? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Aladrin (926209) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @02:49PM (#27345931)

      In a company of 10,000+ employees, it took a 'small team' only 18 months to convert and test what took 11 years to build? I think that's pretty good.

      • Re:easy? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by holophrastic (221104) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @02:52PM (#27345975)

        It may be "pretty good", hey it may be great. But if they're saying that it's easy enough for anyone to do, that's jsut not the case. At 20% of 18 months, that's almost 4 months of solid labour. If you told me that my business needed to take 4 months to do something, I'd tell you it had better be revenue-generating.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by VPeric (1215606)
          On the other hand, it's 4 months for the whole of Google. And Google is huge. So it's a fair assumption that it'd be much less than 12 months for something a fraction of Google's size.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by sexconker (1179573)

            Google is NOT huge, and it is very young.

            To get a real corporation on IPv6 will takes years of constant work, and even then you'll still have legacy systems hooked up to analog lines doing whatever it is they do on their data/fax modems.

            The reality is there are TONS of legacy systems out there that can NOT be replaced with any currently available "solutions".

            • Re:easy? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by generica1 (193760) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @07:03PM (#27350213) Homepage

              That's BS. They CAN be replaced but people are simply inflexible and corporations in particular get very scared of change when it comes to IS/IT. Software in 2009 can do anything software in 1979 could do, only better. Your analog modems are legacy equipment and they are there to support the PEOPLE who insist upon them - there ARE better solutions than merely kludging legacy support into every possible corporate upgrade. Ditch the old, get better stuff!

              For example, a fully functional legacy PC system with analog serial ports etc. could be implemented entirely in software including an analog modem that handles DSP via the host, and the phone line via VoIP, and then virtualized on a server somewhere, and the physical legacy analog crap could be tossed out. But humans (i.e. workers familiar with the legacy system, as well as upper management) will NOT just jump on board to ideas like this without a lot of resistance. That doesn't mean they aren't do-able. The above example is still implementing the legacy solution, but not using legacy hardware. There is probably a much more elegant (albeit completely hypothetical as per this discussion) solution that ignores the legacy equipment, and if the corporation as a whole switched over to the new solution en masse, there would be no need for the legacy system.

              The block is ALWAYS people when it comes to implementing technological upgrades within corporations. It's rarely the technology. Technology is easy to replace/toss out and re-implement. People are much harder to organize and manage than technology.

              Oh... and is Google not a "real corporation" now? I am surprised by that statement. They are definitely young relative to corporations from the 18th century that may still exist, but they are not new kids on the block in their field. In addition, I would suspect their network and their tech footprint greatly exceeds that of the average "real corporation", and encompasses a lot more than what a company who doesn't specialize in online information indexing / data mining would need.

              • Re:easy? (Score:5, Interesting)

                by Repossessed (1117929) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @11:30PM (#27352701)

                There are sometimes compatibility issues with moving to something new.

                I've spoken to one company who uses windows 98 machines, because their inventory system is on legacy software that requires windows 98, and the company who made that software went tits up. Since the software uses a proprietary binary format, its beyond the means of the company to switch to something new, even though there are affordable, and better, options.

                This incidentally, is my biggest reason to push for FOSS, or at the least open standards, in the workplace, if you don't control the code, you can get royally screwed, either from a company going under, or declaring that your updates now cost 3 grand a license, even MS has dropped support for a format they created a time or two.

                • Re:easy? (Score:4, Insightful)

                  by TheLink (130905) on Friday March 27, 2009 @12:24PM (#27358895) Journal
                  The problem doesn't go away for FOSS.

                  Once you have a big system, it's YOUR SYSTEM itself that is the biggest "problem" for you. Not whether it's on OSS.

                  For example, say some years ago someone built a huge complex system that somehow was reliant on MySQL 3.x (because it appeared to be the least bad choice at that time - e.g. postgres95 was too slow, Oracle = $$$$$, etc).

                  Now the system works, with known bugs and known workarounds, and worse, with lots of stuff that's custom made to deal with the deficiencies and bugs of MySQL 3.

                  As a result, it is going to cost a lot to migrate the system to a more recent version of MySQL, or some other DB. Development, testing, extra hardware, time, lost productivity.

                  Analogy: if you only build a small hut on top of FOSS, moving it to something else is a small problem. That changes once you build a big factory on it.

                  If the company hasn't budgeted for the cost of upgrading, then it's stuck with the old software.

                  There's plenty of FOSS out there that has a poor record for backward compatibility, and poor support for old versions.

                  Yes the upgrades might be free, but you can't use them till you figure out what you have to change in your million-lines-of-code system.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by mellon (7048)

                Speaking as a geek myself, I would just like to point out that a common mistake we geeks make is factoring out the human factors problem. "If only everyone were reasonable" is not a good grounding assumption.

                Another point, which is really more relevant to what you've said, is that it's not always cheaper to upgrade. A legacy app that works well and does not need enhancements may be safer and more secure than a new app that replaces it, despite great effort to make the new app safe and secure. This is n

          • On the other hand, Google really rocks the homogeneity, so I would suspect that length of task doesn't scale with size all that evenly.

            If you have 100,000 computers doing some task, you already have means in place to update them cleanly and easily(or you are doomed). Making and testing the changes will account for 90+% of the time, just pressing "deploy" at the end will be (comparatively) trivial. An outfit with 100 computers still has to do the first 90%
        • Re:easy? (Score:4, Informative)

          by D Ninja (825055) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @03:19PM (#27346369)

          If you told me that my business needed to take 4 months to do something, I'd tell you it had better be revenue-generating.

          If you're Google, and you're thinking long term (something severely lacking with many people), it is revenue generating...especially if they're in the forefront of providing support for the technology.

          • Re:easy? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @04:25PM (#27347449) Journal
            If you're Google, you have a very small market share in China, and are desperately trying to increase it. Consumer connections in China are going to be IPv6 or double-NAT'd IPv4 (so most things that punch holes in NAT won't work) very soon due to the way in which v4 addresses are allocated. Being the first service to work on China's v6 network is going to give them a big advantage in a rapidly-growing market.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Ephemeriis (315124)

          If you told me that my business needed to take 4 months to do something, I'd tell you it had better be revenue-generating.

          That's the big problem with the IPv6 transition.

          Regardless of how easy or necessary it may (or may not) be, it isn't going to generate a whole lot of revenue right now. Maybe for a web-based company like Google it might actually get them some revenue... But for your average business that just uses their network to email, browse the web, transfer some files, etc... It'll take some money and some labor, but won't really get you anything in return.

          It's hard to pitch something like that to management.

          • by Sancho (17056) *

            It should also take a lot less time and fewer resources for companies smaller than Google--or at least, with a smaller web presence.

            That's the rub, though. Companies with a large web presence have more incentive to enable IPV6. Companies that aren't technologically-oriented will be easier to migrate, but will be less likely to do so soon. It parallels the emergence of the web, to some degree.

            • Re:easy? (Score:4, Insightful)

              by holophrastic (221104) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @04:09PM (#27347189)

              That's a big falacy. Google has all of it's stuff in one place, and with the scale and redundancy to maintain it all without taknig things down. I'm a small web company. I have more "products" than google, and more distinct clients than google. For me to upgrade some software, I need to talk to every client that uses it, I need to convince them to buy new hardware or adjust their existing hardware. I need to teach them how. I need to convince them that it's beneficial in the first place. Then I need to change dozens of projects being used by nearly one hundred clients without taking anything down.

              Every one of my clients says the same thing: "I'm running a business here. I don't have time to redo things that work.".

              So when ipv4 stops working, then I'll be able to convince them. Same goes for me, by the way. I have nothing to gain by switching to a new protocol. The old one works fine.

      • Re:easy? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by at_slashdot (674436) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @03:11PM (#27346265)

        Everything is easy for a team of PhDs that has free time on their hands.

      • by rthille (8526)

        Bah, if Google had done it right in the first place, it'd have taken one guy updating a couple/few libraries!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bert64 (520050)

      How big is Google's network compared to most companies?
      And also consider the people doing this weren't working on it full time and were a relatively small team.

      The hardest part of deploying IPv6 is actually getting IPv6 network transit... Very few ISPs will offer it, or charge a high premium for it ontop of their ipv4 charges such that it isn't worth the expense.

      • How big is Google's network compared to most companies?

        Erm... Epic?

        The hardest part of deploying IPv6 is actually getting IPv6 network transit... Very few ISPs will offer it, or charge a high premium for it ontop of their ipv4 charges such that it isn't worth the expense.

        Well there's your problem right there.
        It's not that it's hard, it's that people would punish you if you tried.

      • by mikkelm (1000451)

        Every IPv6 prefix you add to your FIB is four times as expensive as an IPv4 prefix.

  • by slummy (887268) <shawnuthNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday March 26, 2009 @02:46PM (#27345875) Homepage

    Google engineers worked on the IPv6 effort as a 20% project -- meaning it was in addition to their regular work -- from July 2007 until January 2009.

    Google allows it's employees to use 20% of their WORK DAY for personal projects. So technically this wasn't "extra" work.

  • I can imagine some of the conversations that would happen at regular places of business. *shutter*
  • by Sybert42 (1309493) * on Thursday March 26, 2009 @02:50PM (#27345945) Journal

    Despite being an elegant and technologically sound solution, I think IPv6 will be adopted universally within a few years.

  • What about convincing many corporate users who have come to believe over the years that private IPv4 NATed networks are an essential part of their security?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What about convincing many corporate users who have come to believe over the years that private IPv4 NATed networks are an essential part of their security?

      Already taken care of.

      Private Addresses in IPv6 [wikipedia.org]

      • by Tony Hoyle (11698) *

        You don't need that most of the time (everything on the network segment has an fe80:: address anyway), only to proxy or NAT the outgoing connections. IIRC the ipv6 NAT solutions that exist are basically 1:1 rather than 1:M so they're not equivalent.

    • Re:Corporate users (Score:4, Interesting)

      by idiotnot (302133) <sean@757.org> on Thursday March 26, 2009 @05:43PM (#27348885) Homepage Journal

      NAT (or more correctly in most cases PAT) is not a security feature.

      More pushback comes from security-mastar types, who've been trained in an IPv4-only world. IPv6 forces them to do two things they hate doing: a) properly secure perimeter devices, and b) ensure that each host is secure.

      A lot of it, of course, stems from the Win9x/NT4/2k days, when outbreaks on internal networks caused major business disruptions.

  • by guruevi (827432) <<evi> <at> <smokingcube.be>> on Thursday March 26, 2009 @02:57PM (#27346041) Homepage

    It's very easy to do. Most if not all servers are currently IPv6 compatible and most of the software has this type of stuff abstracted away by the operating system.

    Then all you need to do is ask your provider for an IPv6 range and put some records in your DNS, enable your clients for IPv6, tell your routers that they'll from now on see IPv6 addresses as well (usually already in the firmware or it's in an upgrade somewhere) let your DHCP server give out IPv6 addresses and then you're done. Add an IPv4 to IPv6 gateway if your provider doesn't support IPv6 yet.

    This all can be done in several steps and IPv4 can keep chugging at the same time as well so there is practically no downtime to the systems. It's the same as adding an IPv4 range to your network (if you ever run out of space in your range) except that there are more digits and that some of your older hardware needs a small upgrade.

    The problem is that it requires manpower to do so which isn't cheap. In an organization like Google it takes a group a while at 20% of their time. In many organizations, those groups are 1) not as competent, 2) don't have 10% of free time, let alone 20%, 3) this has to be justified as far as manpower costs go.

    • by rabbit994 (686936)

      When talking about Windows server, which in most businesses is Operating system your talking about, only 2008 is IPv6 100%. 2003 is not 100% IPv6 and some stuff must be done either via config files or command line. Not that this is bad thing but when your looking at GUI Console, you don't see IPv6 information which could lead to confusion. Easy example is that 2003/XP look up AAAA DNS records over IPv4 instead of IPv6. Also, Active Directory over IPv6 is not supported as well. Vista and Windows 7 support IP

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by microbee (682094)

      most of the software has this type of stuff abstracted away by the operating system

      The OS doesn't abstract IPV6. The application has to use the proper APIs to support IPV6 directly. For example, it cannot assume sockaddr is ipv4 only, and ultimately support both ipv4 and ipv6. It's never that easy.

  • by mgkimsal2 (200677) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @03:01PM (#27346111) Homepage

    Define 'small team' - 5 people? 200? What's a 'small team' at Google?

    The fact that Google makes such a big deal about only hiring the best and brightest and PhDs and such also indicates this isn't 'easy'. If it took a team of people who are regarded to be the best and brightest in their industry, with numerous PhDs on the team (or at least at their disposal on campus) *18 months* to do something (even part time) that still means that this is going to be a bigger issue for most companies.

    Consider that the bulk of Google's apps that would need to be 'converted' have been written in the past 3-4 years (docs, maps, earth, etc.), and likely were written by people who put modularity and efficiency much higher than the average developer does (or is allowed to, in many cases) and you'll conclude that average developers who've inherited undocumented legacy code from previous average developers will have a much harder time than expected.

    The core problem (as someone else pointed out) is consumer-level adoption - ISPs, routers, etc. It's somewhat chicken and egg, and perhaps having Google announce 100% support for it, this will give other players in the field the encouragement to put more effort in to transitioning over.

    Lastly, why didn't Google (of all companies) bake IPv6 in to these main apps when they were first written?

    • by ewenix (702589) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @03:19PM (#27346379) Journal
      Lastly, why didn't Google (of all companies) bake IPv6 in to these main apps when they were first written?

      Perhaps the best and brightest spent 18 months of extra time on the massage table and drinking smoothies.
      Then recently edited the .conf to include the line $IPV6 = 1;

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by D Ninja (825055)

      Lastly, why didn't Google (of all companies) bake IPv6 in to these main apps when they were first written?

      Because, just as you said, Google hires the best. These guys needed a challenge. They gave themselves one.

      (I'm kidding.)

    • by Nimey (114278)

      The core problem is ISPs getting off their duffs to support IPv6. I'm ready for it at home (save for an old cable modem), but my ISP doesn't yet support DOCSIS 3.0 and IPv6, and this is a common problem.

    • by syousef (465911)

      Exactly.

      Call me when Google uses a "small team" to convert a couple of hundred undocumented or poorly documented apps written in C and running on an old system like VMS since the mid-80s. Then I'll still have concerns about the business case during an economic downturn.

    • by jgrahn (181062)

      The fact that Google makes such a big deal about only hiring the best and brightest and PhDs and such also indicates this isn't 'easy'. If it took a team of people who are regarded to be the best and brightest in their industry, with numerous PhDs on the team (or at least at their disposal on campus) *18 months* to do something (even part time) that still means that this is going to be a bigger issue for most companies.

      I bet most other company networks don't look like Google's (for better or worse),

      Consider

    • by Tony Hoyle (11698) *

      'small team' generally doesn't go over about 5 people. You simply can't - as a team gets larger it gets less efficient. This is true even for google.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mythical_Man-Month [wikipedia.org]

  • Gateway/Routers? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @03:22PM (#27346431) Homepage Journal

    Does anyone have a list of current networking hardware that is IPv6 ready? Specifically I am interested in any gateway/routers that support IPv6 out of the box, in the sub-$200 category.

    I know about DD-WRT, but I don't want to have spend time hacking my router.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Zenzilla (793153)
      Hacking your router would take you less time than the time it took you to post.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Conception (212279)

        No joke. It's just a firmware upload.

        • No joke. It's just a firmware upload.

          And making sure your router can support a third-party firmware.

        • He'll spend the same amount of time updating the firmware on whatever he buys. Whether he updates it to alternative router firmware, or official firmware, it still (likely) has to be updated from whatever it shipped with.

      • by chihowa (366380)
        DD-WRT does not support IPv6 out of the box, so to say. See here [dd-wrt.com]. It's not a huge deal to get it working, but it's not for your grandma to do and would probably intimidate an embarrassing percentage of Slashdot regulars.
    • by SBrach (1073190)
      I have this router [newegg.com], it does ipv4 and ipv6 dual-stack and the built in VPN features are great.
    • by powerlord (28156)

      Last time I checked the only one that supported it out of the box was Apple's Airport Extreme.

      I've heard "the usual suspects" (Linksys, Dlink, Netgear) have added it since then, but I haven't been looking to confirm that, and I'm not sure if it ships enabled or not.

    • by spinkham (56603)

      The best one I've seen so far is the Apple Airport extreme, offers easy tunneling service also if you don't have native IPv6 yet.

    • Apple's Airport Extreme supports IPv6 beautifully. :)

    • by Eil (82413)

      There's nothing you can do right now to automatically "switch on" IPv6 across your whole Internet-connected network. There is effort involved because practically nothing supports it out of the box. (Read the zillion chick-and-egg comments in this and every other IPv6 article.) If using IPv6 were easy right now, this Slashdot article--and all of the other ones before it--wouldn't exist.

    • Does anyone have a list of current networking hardware that is IPv6 ready? Specifically I am interested in any gateway/routers that support IPv6 out of the box, in the sub-$200 category.

      It depends upon what you mean by "supports IPv6". That can everything from supporting the protocol to working well with existing consumer OS's and tunneling IPv6 if your ISP is not supporting it. Also, you should look at what features are supported by IPv6, like does using it bypass your router's firewall?

      The most practical I've seen are OpenWRT routers and Airport Extremes.

  • by ircharlie (317640) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @03:27PM (#27346517)

    This made me laugh. From TFA:
    "
    IPv4 uses 32-bit addresses and can support approximately 4.3 billion individually addressed devices on the Internet. IPv6, on the other hand, uses 128-bit addresses and can support so many devices that only a mathematical expression -- 2 to the 128th power -- can quantify its size.
    "

    • I, for one, prefer sizes that cannot be quantified by mathematical expressions.
    • Can you give us those numbers in terms that are in common usaage? Like LOC (Libraries of Congress), GB (Golf Balls), DTM (Distance to moon)

      • Can you give us those numbers in terms that are in common usaage? Like LOC (Libraries of Congress), GB (Golf Balls), DTM (Distance to moon)

        OK, 2^128=3.40e38 approximately.
        For comparison, 1e26 is approximately the number of Angstroms in a light year. The observable universe is about 1.4e10 light years in size. So the size of the observable universe is about 1.4e36 Angstroms. The number of IPv6 addresses is about 240 times bigger.

        • Forgot to mention: the number of IPv4 addresses is about the same as the number of Angstroms in 16inches. Just for comparison.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by lennier (44736)

      "IPv6, on the other hand, uses 128-bit addresses and can support so many devices that only a mathematical expression -- 2 to the 128th power -- can quantify its size."

      Except that in the standard IPv6 addressing scheme, we immediately throw away 64 of those bits and use them as host identifier. Then we divide the rest heirarchically up into networks, each division of which can leak addresses. We probably won't be seeing a lot of 2-bit subnets for point-to-point links, as we have now in 32-bit CIDR; they'll g

  • by sunking2 (521698) on Thursday March 26, 2009 @03:28PM (#27346525)
    Everything is still in Beta. Don't think they can close any line items yet.
  • Sure, it's easy if you work for Google. :-(

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