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We have all been hearing about IPv6 for a few years now. There have been numerous white papers published, blog posts, audio podcasts, as well as the normal twitter chatter on the topic. Lately this topic has come to the forefront more and more since the RIR have handed out the last of the IPv4 /8 networks to the regional registrars. So what does all this mean to you and I? Well, if you have not fully embraced IPv6, the time has definitely come.
Luckily Cisco Press has recently released IPv6 for Enterprise Networks (Networking Technology) for our reading pleasure. Originally I was going to wait until Cisco Live 2011 to get this book, but I just could not wait and my friend, Jamie, was able to help me get it sooner. I am glad that I did not wait! This book is a great read and will help the reader to understand IPv6 as well as help to design and deploy a network.
The book consists of 12, well formatted chapters. They take you from the market drivers, to designing and services, deployment, and all the way to the data center and testing.  What is nice about this book is the progression on the topics.  You do not really need to know IPv6 to read this book, it will actually guide you through the whys and hows then onto the how to as well as testing.  It is nice to have a book that will cover most of the topics that one will experience in an Enterprise design.
The first two chapters in the book talk about the market drivers for IPv6, these are some of the whys that people are wondering.  This is a pretty quick chapter as the killer application is not really out there yet, but is sure to be coming (my best guess will be Asian/Pac e-commerce).  What this chapter does elude to is that this is a good time to be able to restructure your network in a more efficient design.  Consider this, you probably inherited your current network and the design that is currently in place.  With a transition to IPv6, you now have the opportunity to reconsider what was done and determine were you should take it.  The first chapter does good at giving you some points to consider as you read on and helps you to understand some of the underlying design scenarios.
The next two chapters, 3 and 4, start to go over how IPv4 and IPv6 will co-exist in the network and some of the ways to approach this challenge.  There are dual-stacking, 6-to-4 tunnels, MPLS, and the good old duct tape of the network – GRE.  It also continues to talk about services and some of the routing options that one has to consider.  Service such as multicast and QoS are discussed for a decent amount of pages.  These tend to be some of the more important items in an enterprise network.  These chapters also discuss the different routing protocol options – OSPFv3, EIGRPv6, and IS-IS with a mention of BGP.  What does surprise me, there is no discussion on LISP 🙂  Ok, that might have been asking for a bit much, but I do like LISP.
I think that Chapter 5 is a really important chapter in some ways.  This is the chapter where Planning an IPv6 Deployment is discussed.  This is a topic that should not be taken lightly but one that should be a primary focus.  After all the technology and numbers, all that you really have to stand upon is good design.  As i mentioned before, what is nice with IPv6 is that you do not have to base your new design on the existing design, you can actually rethink everything and start fresh.  For instance, if you are currently running EIGRP but want to move to OSPF, deploying IPv6 is the time to start that move.  The two protocols (v4 and v6) are separate from each other.
The next chapters, 6 through 10, are the heart of this book.  Discussed in some good detail is deploying IPv6 in Campus, Virtualized, WAN/Branch, Data Centers as well as Remote Access.  Each of these topics has a good chapter dedicated to it and there are many things that one needs to consider with each of these deployment scenarios.  Again, it all comes down to the choices made during the design and testing phase.
Chapter 11 is a nice chapter on the aspects of Managing IPv6 Networks.  It covers the different ways to monitor and secure various parts of the network.  It is nice to actually see a chapter dedicated to some of the stuff that is quickly overlooked during a design an deployment – how to manage and support all the work that you have done.  Most of this stuff is usually figured out near the end of a project when we hand off things to the NOC – and they say IPvWhat?
The final chapter in the book was a welcomed surprise to me.  This chapter actually talks about how to setup a lab to test IPv6.  It gives some good sample setups that should help the person be able to play with the protocol as well as test different scenarios.  Granted, some of the hardware suggested might be a bit out of reach for most of us (VSS, ISR, etc) – but it is a good starting point to see what you can do.  One can easily see ways to substitute certain hardware for other hardware so one can learn and develop.  If you are going to roll some of this into production, test hardware is invaluable for knowing the problems before they are experienced in a live network.
Overall it is a good read and one that should be handy to those who are working with IPv6 right now.  Not only can you use the information within the book for your own knowledge, but it gives you information on how you can explain it to others.  One of the most difficult things that I come across in an enterprise is explaining difficult topics.  This book helps me to find ways to explain things in ways that others might be able to understand.