This episode of Defrag This comes straight from the heart of CiscoLive! 2017, where I got a chance to chat with Rick Graziani about IPv6 and the latest edition of his book, which stands as a blueprint for IPv6 fundamentals.
Defrag This, is a podcast for IT Pros. If you’re looking for meaningful trends, commentary on breaking news, and insights into the new release IPv6 Fundamentals: A Straightforward Approach to Understanding IPv6 by Rick Graziani, you’ve come to the right place. “I wanted to write a book for myself,” Graziani explained.
This week’s episode takes place at CiscoLive! 2017 near Rick Graziani’s book signing at the Cisco store. So that makes us even more famous now.
It’s true that some industries have struggled to adapt to IPv6—but Graziani can easily explain why businesses shouldn’t be happy to stay with IPv4.
“The mobile market has been going IPv6 for a while,” Graziani said. “They’d have to.” Verizon, T-Mobile, Comcast—IPv6 is the only thing that can handle the sheer number of addresses out there.
In addition to authoring IPv6 Fundamentals: A Straightforward Approach to Understanding IPv6, Graziani has been a full-time networking instructor at Cabrillo College for over 20 years. He has previously worked in IT in Silicon Valley, has also taught at University of California, Santa Cruz, and writes curriculum for Cisco Network Academy.
But it’s not just mobile services. “I have my students go home and do a little protocol analysis of the traffic when they go to Facebook or Google or Netflix,” Graziani said. “They’re shocked that they’re running IPv6 at home. They don’t even know it.”
Yes, IPv6 has been slow in the enterprise market. NAT has been the safety net for a long time, but there are two reasons to go to IPv6.
- NAT has problems with legacy and peer-to-peer (plus supporting so many wireless devices).
- IoT is mainstream now. And there’s no way IPv4 is going to keep handling that—if you call it handling what it’s doing now.
“Staying with IPv4 is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic,” Graziani said. “There’s going to be a tipping point where eventually we’re all going to have to go IPv6. That’s why now’s the time to learn it. Now is the time to learn it before it’s too late.”
Titanic v. SpaceX
So in a battle between IPv4 and IPv6, we know IPv6 would win—but by how much and why?
Graziani spent his year sabbatical writing the second edition of IPv6 Fundamentals to answer this question. “I met with some professors at Politecnico Milano, a very big engineering university in Milan, and they’re like, Wait, how do you write an entire book on IPv6?” Graziani said.
“I had to laugh, but it’s obviously a lot more than just longer address space. It’s how we use that address space—the different types of addresses.”
Graziani jokingly calls himself “simpleminded” in order to explain why his book is thicker in the second edition. “I have to explain everything step by step and keep everything very simple, because that’s how I think,” he said
One thing that Graziani hates when he tries to learn something is the point when he has to go someplace else to figure out what something means. That’s the thing he is so careful about in his book—everything you need to know about IPv6 is in there. (Everything means everything.)
So the fundamentals of IPv6 is not just longer address space. It’s understanding solicited-node multicast addresses. Graziani diagrammed that the best he could to show the advantages of a solicited-node multicast over a broadcast. “It’s a whole different way of doing business on the network—neighbor discovery, dynamic address allocation, data packets, data security, routing. Things have changed, there’s a lot more to it.”
The good news is after you take the first step, IPv6 is not that difficult. Actually, IPv6 addresses are easier to understand and read than IPv4 addresses.
That’s because they’re easy to partition, or parse—to see the global unicast, how the Internet or your provider sees you, see the subnet and see the host portion, the interface ID.
“So easy,” Graziani said. “As opposed to looking at something slash 21 address or slash 23 address, where you’re always asking where it begins and ends. Subnetting. I could teach subnetting to my students in 10 minutes with IPv6.”
Who Should Read the Book?
IPv6 Fundamentals: A Straightforward Approach to Understanding IPv6 is full of diagrams, pictures, and examples. So don’t be deceived by how thick it looks.
“I wrote this book for two people in mind,” Graziani said.
The beginning students that he teaches at his college know mostly nothing about IPv6. Even though they’re the generation that’s going to be the IPv6 generation. They’re going to grow up with it.
Then you’ve got the seasoned network engineers who say they were hoping to retire before they had to learn IPv6.
“I keep things very simple, very step-by-step, everything explained, a lot of examples. I try not to leave too much out,” Graziani said. You can flip right to what you need to learn, right on the fly.
The seasoned network engineer can maybe skip some of the details. Even the new student may not want to get into all the protocol details, but they’re all in the book for their reference.
The book is also full of other recommended resources like Tim Martin’s Live Lesson Series or books from other publishers.
Want to know how to implement stateful DHCPv6? Want to know your host is getting all these IPv6 addresses? Want to know how to get that down to one IPv6 global unicast address?
May we recommend IPv6 Fundamentals?
“Learning IPv6 is like herding cats because wherever you start, you feel like you should have started somewhere else,” Graziani said.
For understanding the many different concepts of IPv6, you need to already have a background in some of the other concepts. That’s why each chapter begins with a little primer, explaining some of the basics before jumping into more detail.
Throughout the book, Graziani discusses the same topic but from different angles. His reason? “What I wanted to do is write a book for myself.”
He wanted a book where everything you need to know you can find in one place. (Like how the protocol works, including neighbor discovery and DHCPv6 and ICMPv6.)
“Even if it may not be of interest immediately, it’s in there, “Graziani said. “I have a chapter on EIGRPv6 and OSPFv3 with both traditional configuration and with address-families.” Just in case.
Graziani credits Tim Martin and Jim Daley at Cisco as well as his tech editors with helping him with the project. And writing this book went even more smoothly because he was on sabbatical—not teaching at the same time.
Actually, the book was written while he lived in Rome and an outlying town called Frascati. “It was nice, because when you’re at home, there are things going on—distractions,” Graziani said. “I was able to really focus on the book.”
Q: Did you write any of it in front of the Coliseum?
A: Ah. Would it help if I say yes?
Find Rick Graziani’s book IPv6 Fundamentals: A Straightforward Approach to Understanding IPv6 at Cisco Press or Amazon. And be sure to look for his educational videos and powerpoints online (username Cisco, password Pearlman).