IPv6 for Enterprise Networks – Review

Unless you’ve been living in a cave with Tony Stark for the past several months, you are well aware that IPv6 is a reality that can’t be ignored by today’s networker.  Part of the issue affecting IPv6 adoption is the lack of good reading material.  Yes, there are mountains of RFCs out there that talk about IPv6 in nauseating detail.  However, these documents aren’t all that accessible for the average network rock star that is working 50 hours a week and doesn’t have time to pour over page after page of dry Internet-ese.  There have been some great posts about IPv6 for the common man from people like Jeremy Stretch and Chris Jones but there is a segment of the population that would rather read about the subject from a vendor source.  Enter Shannon McFarland and company:

IPv6 for Enterprise Networks Cover

Cisco Press graciously provided a copy of this book for my evaluation.  Clocking in at a svelte 361 pages, this tome has a great wealth of IPv6 information from a design perspective.  There are some code examples for your networking gear, but much of the discussion in this book revolves around IPv6 design and building your network right the first time.

Chapter 1 starts off the same way many network rock stars will start off pitching IPv6 to their company, with a discussion of the market drivers for IPv6 adoption.  Even though networking professionals know IPv6 is inevitable, the C-level executives will most likely need some additional convincing.  This chapter is great for them to hear about the reasons why IPv6 is necessary.  Chapter 2 is an overview of the Cisco hierarchical network design, now expanded to include IPv6 content.  If you’ve seen any network design documentation in the past decade, this should be a review for you.  Just note the IPv6 sections.

Chapter 3 starts the meat of the book.  This chapter discusses the coexistence mechanisms that you are likely to face when prepping your network, since we are going to need to run IPv4 alongside IPv6 no matter how much we might not want to.  Tunnels and NAT64 get some discussion, along with running IPv6 over MPLS.  Chapter 4 discusses the various network services that will need to be IPv6 aware to help run your network, such as OSPFv3 or BGP.  Great discussion is made about multicast, since multicast is such a crucial component in IPv6.  Chapter 5 is a short one, discussing the planning that one will need to go through for implementing an IPv6 infrastructure.  This is more of the paperwork and staging behind the scenes that might be boring, but in an enterprise is critical for painless IPv6 deployment.

Chapter 6 is the largest chapter and will most likely be where you spend most of your time.  This is a soup-to-nuts campus IPv6 deployment.  The authors analyze the deployment from three different perspectives, the dual stack (my favorite), the hybrid model that is useful for non-IPv6 applications, and the service block model, which allows you to bring IPv6 online in sections.  Every facet of your network is analyzed in this chapter, from VLANs to routing protocols to QoS and other network services.  If you are going to be deploying IPv6 in your network in the future, you’d do well to just dog ear Chapter 6 so you can turn back to it quickly.

Chapters 7 through 10 deal with specific cases of IPv6 deployment to support use-cases, such as virtualization, branch offices, datacenters, or remote access.  They exist so that you can quickly reference these scenarios as needed, since you may not need to worry about deployment of IPv6 in a datacenter in your environment for instance.  The authors do a wonderful job of explaining all the things you might need to take into account in your deployment of ancillary technologies, such as Microsoft protocols to be aware of or application requirements that may not necessarily be network dependent.

Chapter 11 is all about managing your shiny new IPv6 network through things like Netflow and SNMP.  Careful attention should be paid if you don’t want to find yourself chasing poltergeists in your network at 3 a.m. on a Sunday.  Chapter 12 gives you a great breakdown of parts and pieces that would be great to construct a lab to pilot your IPv6 implementation before unleashing it on your live network.  That way, IPv6 doesn’t call the Resume Generating Event (RGE) protcol.

Tom’s Take

I liked this book quite a bit.  There is a ton of good information to be found inside for all levels of network rock star, from those just learning about deploying IPv6 to the poor souls that find themselves mired in a remote access IPv6 deployment gone wrong.  With a big focus on proper network design, IPv6 for Enterprise Networks ensures that you don’t have to rebuild your IPv6-enabled network after a short time due to bad design decisions or compromises. Every scenario I’ve seen discussed concerning IPv6 deployment is laid out in clear language, with both pros and cons for deployment.  I highly recommend picking up this book as soon as you can so your journey down the IPv6 yellow brick road starts off smoothly and you can avoid the pitfalls before you encounter them.

As a bonus, if you are going to Cisco Live 2011 in Las Vegas, Shannon McFarland is giving a session based around this book, BRKRST-2301 Enterprise IPv6 deployment.  If you aren’t adverse to 8 a.m. sessions the morning after the Customer Appreciation Event you should sign up and check it out.  I plan on bringing my book so that Shannon can autograph it.  That way, I can claim I met him before he became a gigantic IPv6 rock star.

1 thought on “IPv6 for Enterprise Networks – Review

  1. Thanks for the pingback!

    I agree with everything you said – Shannon’s book is fantastic. I bought the Kindle edition even before the print version was out. While I would have liked to see something slightly more vendor-neutral, there is no question that the concepts illustrated in his book can be applied no matter what vendor you’re dealing with.

    The only thing really missing from his book (and rightly so, being a Cisco book and all, specific to networking) are the details on IPv6 services. By that, I mean things like addressing plans, DHCPv6, DNS, etc. Stuff that doesn’t apply to just routers and switches. Perhaps that’s something we might see in an O’Reilly book, which tend to be either vendor neutral, or Juniper-leaning.

    I’m leaving Cisco Live the afternoon after the CAE… but I think I might try to catch Shannon’s session before I take off to the airport. I’d love to meet him!

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