Schools get help with big internet protocol change

IPv6 is still not prevalent in education.

A trove of advice, tips, and hints for switching to the internet’s newest protocol, known as IPv6, is available for schools and colleges that haven’t completed the network alterations and hardware upgrades necessary to convert to IPv6 before the internet runs out of web addresses.

The Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC), along with the Internet Society, introduced a website last week for schools, colleges, universities, businesses, and government agencies in the process of switching from IPv4 to IPV6. The site, called Deploy360, has case studies, best practices, and a host of technical papers designed to help IT officials convert to IPv6.

Every IPv4 address has been distributed with the proliferation of web-enabled mobile devices like smart phones and computer tablets. There is no official date for the conversion to IPv6 for web users, but technologists have said time may be running short.

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“2012 will be a pivotal year in IPv6 service deployment, and theDeploy360 [program] is a key component of our efforts to support the industry in making that transition,” said Leslie Daigle, chief internet technology officer for the Internet Society, a group that promotes development of open web technologies.

Deploy360 has a list of tutorials that include step-by-step directions on how a college, for instance, can make the change to IPv6. And one of the many case studies is from Oxford University, making the document more applicable for campus IT pros than case studies from businesses or governmental organizations.

Campus IT officials can use Deploy360 to connect with peer schools facing similar challenges in bringing an entire campus up to date with the new protocol. The site connects technologists via Twitter and online discussion groups linked from the front page.

Deploy360 will also arrange conferences and industry events centered on IPv6 conversion, although no dates or cities have been posted. Experts from Deploy360 recently gave a tutorial at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Another resource for campus IT officials making the switch to the new web protocol is the IPv6 College, a website offering courses in how to change to IPv6 and what the switch will mean for schools and businesses.

Google’s tracking of IPv6 adoption shows that adoption of the new protocol has been slow to catch on.

Since Google started tracking IPv6 adoption in September 2008, the percentage of web users who had IPv6-capable computers peaked at four-tenths of a percent in December 2011. Two-tenths of a percent of web users were IPv6 capable in early 2009, according to Google’s site.

It’s unclear if colleges and universities are ready for the switch, and a recent survey from Ipswitch Inc. shows that many U.S. networks aren’t completely converted to IPv6.

Nearly nine in 10 enterprise network managers surveyed said they were not fully prepared for the IPv6 switch, and only 12 percent said they were 80-100 percent ready.

Two-thirds of respondents had just begun the conversion process.

Laurentian University in Ontario announced in April that it was the first campus in Canada to convert its website to IPv6. The university published a list of Canadian colleges that had not implemented the new protocol and maintained a blog detailing the steps to converting to IPv6.

Georgian College, an institution with three campuses in Canada, is on its way to adopting the new protocol, a college IT official said during a presentation at the IPv6 Summit at the University of Ottawa in April.

Steve Benoit, Georgian College’s IT manager, said campus technologists found they didn’t need entirely new equipment to leave the old web protocol, according to a May 3 report from IT World Canada.

“We found out that a lot of our stuff was [IPv6] capable. We just needed to configure it and understand it,” Benoit said during his presentation. “As we looked at our stuff, we already had IPv6, the edge router was v6 capable, the DNS server popped up an [IPv6] address, it was totally coincidental.”

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