Archive for the ‘Conference’ Category

Last week Erion’s David Holder spoke at the immensely successful (and oversubscribed) IoT Scotland 2015 event in Edinburgh. His presentation covered the crucial, but often underrated, topic of IoT integration and standardisation. Interestingly many of the other speakers at this year’s event alluded to IoT standards demonstrating the increasing awareness of how important IoT standardisation is.

This following is a brief summary of the presentation, which can be found here.

IoT: Integration and Standardisation

Making your way through the “Fog”

There are a bewildering array of standards and even standards bodies relating to the Internet of Things (IoT). Choosing between the many competing standards requires a detailed knowledge of their characteristics, benefits and pitfalls. For those seeking to deploy IoT this is a daunting task.

Despite the difficulties, choosing appropriate standards is extremely important. Standards bring many benefits; interoperability, compatibility, functionality, flexibility, longevity, ease-of-use, maintainability and manageability. All of these factors have a direct or indirect impact on the bottom line. For example, IoT devices are often built into infrastructure that may have lifetimes stretching into years and decades. It is highly desirable that the standards will last over the same period and is particularly desirable that the risk of having to replace IoT infrastructure prematurely due to choosing a legacy standard is mitigated by choosing IoT standards with a long shelf life. Standards do not just affect capital costs. Choosing common, well-known and widely supported standards has an impact on your support staff’s ability to maintain and manage your IoT infrastructure on an ongoing basis.

Unfortunately, the huge number of standards and ironically the large number of standards bodies makes selecting the best for your IoT deployment extremely difficult.

The ideal set of standards would allow every device to talk to every other device directly (Device to Device communication), and allow each device to access and be accessed from the global Internet. In a perfect IoT world, there would be no need for intermediate systems to allow devices to talk to each other or to communicate with the Internet. A single standard would work across all networks and provide a unified platform for the widest range of IoT solutions.

Today’s reality is very different from the ideal.  Current IoT systems are “Vertical Silos” with islands of devices using one standard or one vendor’s product that cannot communicate directly with each other or the Internet. These vertical silos often tie IoT solutions to a single type of network. For example, they may work on IEEE 802.15.4 (a common IoT radio standard) but they do not work over Bluetooth, WiFi or other radio technologies. Worse, if you need to integrate devices across different networks, standards or vendors then you are force to deploy “Upperware”, additional systems that provide a high-level way of bridging between the islands of IoT and the Internet.

Naturally, this is undesirable. Ideally, your IoT standards would allow all devices to talk to each other regardless of the network they are on and would allow them to communicate with the Internet. You would also like your IoT standards to fulfil all the other benefits of standards such as longevity and manageability. One set of standards that meets this description is the set of standards that underpins the global Internet. These protocol standards include the Internet Protocol (IP). IP is familiar to network managers, systems administrators and application developers alike. It is likely to be around for a very long time, just as the current Internet has been in existence for many decades already. It is specifically designed to work across many different network types and IP makes possible direct communication between all devices and the Internet.

The bad news is that the legacy version of the Internet Protocol (IPv4) that is in current use on many networks today is not suitable for IoT. The main reason for this is that IPv4 has run out of addresses. It has none available for current requirements never mind the tens of billions and maybe even trillions of IoT devices. Worse, the IPv4 Internet has only been kept going through the increased use of address sharing using techniques such as Network Address Translation (NAT) and Carrier Grade NAT (CGN). These techniques break exactly the functionality that we wish to use with the IoT. Specifically, NAT and CGN break the end-to-end connectivity that allows devices to talk directly to each other and the Internet. For these reasons, and others, IPv4 is not a solution, even though it has the characteristics that we need from a ubiquitous IoT standard.

Thankfully there is a long-term solution to the limitations of IPv4, that is the next version of the Internet Protocol; IPv6. IPv6 has a practically limitless number of addresses, it has no NAT or CGN to impeded connectivity, it performs better, works over all radio and network technologies, is well understood due to its widespread deployment and is expected to have a very very long life.

In addition, there is version of IPv6 that is specifically design for IoT devices. It is called 6LowPAN. 6LowPAN is an IPv6 standard for Low power and lossy networks (LLNs). 6LowPAN ticks all the boxes for an ideal IoT network standard. It works across many different radio and networking technologies providing a common protocol for IoT devices. It allows direct communication between devices and with the Internet. It uses technologies that are familiar to network managers, systems administrators and software developers and it is specifically designed to work in IoT networks.

Today IPv6 is widely implemented and available on the global internet. Nearly 100% of the Internet backbone supports IPv6. Over 50% of the major content providers in the world are IPv6 enabled. In many parts of the world, IPv6 is a standard feature of consumer and business broadband services. In the UK, broadband ISPs are eventually beginning to roll out IPv6. This is removing the final hurdle for the widespread use of IPv6 in the UK. Interestingly, when an end user has both IPv4 and IPv6 they find today that on average over 70% of their traffic is over IPv6. Better still, they benefit from the lower latency and the removal of IPv4 impedances such as NAT and CGN.

So where does this leave IoT standards? There are still a huge number of contenders, including large players such as Zigbee. Despite this, we are seeing a steady and increasing move to the use of 6LowPAN. A number of key products and technologies have adopted 6LowPAN. For example, Google’s Nest is based on a 6LowPAN solution called Thread. In addition, even Zigbee one of the largest pre-6LowPAN IoT players has announced Zigbee-IP that is 6LowPAN based. So overall, we are seeing an industry that is gradually showing a move to 6LowPAN or IPv6 based solutions. The enormous size of existing IoT deployments and investments means that it is likely to be some time before 6LowPAN becomes the clear winner, however we can be pretty confident be so eventually.

The implications are clear, whatever other constraints you may have on your choice of IoT technologies, and there are many, it is clear that you should ensure that you are prepared for IPv6 and 6LowPAN to play a significant role. Even if you have been forced to invest in other technologies because a 6LowPAN solution was not available, you should expect that in the long term you will need to deploy 6LowPAN as well or even migrate your current deployment to 6LowPAN.

Samba is the world’s leading Windows-Linux integration open source project. Here at Erion we have a long history of working with Samba to IPv6 enable its various components. This year is no different. At SambaXP 2015, Erion’s David Holder gave a presentation on IPv6-only Samba. He described the rational behind the need for IPv6-only Samba deployments, the status of IPv6-only Samba and how to deploy Samba in an IPv6-only environment.

Here is a brief summary of the presentation, the slides for which can be found here.

IPv6 is becoming increasingly common. It is standard in all major operating systems, deployed in all Tier-1 ISPs, available in almost 100% of transit carriers and is supported on 46% of the world’s top web-sites. Today, users that have a dual-stack service from their ISPs (that is they have both IPv4 and IPv6) find on average that 70% of their traffic is carried over IPv6. Furthermore, world-wide the percentage of Internet users who are IPv6 capable is doubling year upon year.

This increase in the use of IPv6 was evident at SambaXP. When asked, over 50% of attendees at the presentation stated that they now use IPv6. In previous years, only a handful were using IPv6.

Today organisations are moving beyond adding IPv6 to create dual-stack networks. Now some are looking to create IPv6-only environments where nodes no longer use IPv4. This change means that Samba now needs to be able to operate not only in dual-stack environments but also in IPv6-only environments. Previously, in dual-stack networks, if Samba had a feature that was not supported in IPv6 then it could drop back to use IPv4. In IPv6-only networks, dropping back to IPv4 is not possible and everything must work over IPv6 and IPv6 alone.

Organisations are moving to IPv6-only networks for a range of reasons. The most obvious is that it significantly reduces network administration. Managing two protocols rather than one not only doubles administration tasks but it can also significantly complicate certain scenarios where IPv6 and IPv4 interact. This particularly true where a mix of transition mechanisms are involved. There are other equally significant reasons for creating IPv6-only networks. In some large IPv4 networks there are multiple islands of duplicated RFC1918 address space. This is a major impediment to network operations and administration. Many ISPs and mobile operators use multiple 10.x.x.x networks internally because their networks are so large. Removing these and replacing them with a single IPv6 network avoids all the difficulties with operating across multi-islands of private address space.

A final growing reason to reduce or remove IPv4 in a network is the growth in the use of Carrier Grade NAT (CGN) in the access networks of ISPs. Content providers and others have no control over where and when an ISP may deploy CGN. However, the deployment of CGN many cause them significant issues. Using IPv6 in addition to IPv4 provides a method of circumventing the problems caused by CGN.

As a result, IPv6-only environments are appearing in an increasing number of networks including those of ISPs, mobile operators, data centres and cloud providers. Samba is used in many of these and environments and it is therefore imperative that Samba be made IPv6-only ready.

Samba is “IPv6 ready”, it works successfully in a dual-stack environment. However, when it comes to IPv6-only operation Samba exhibits issues because some features retain IPv4-only code. Whilst workarounds are possible and the major of functionality is fully IPv6-ready, the current Samba releases are not quite ready for IPv6-only operation. This will change with future releases as we fix the remaining issues.

Once Samba is fully IPv6-only ready there are a number of additional potential benefits.

Internally SMB/CIFS uses large MTU sizes. From SMB 2.1 onwards the use of Multi-Credit allows SMB MTU to go from a maximum of 64KB to multiple megabytes. In Samba, the default is 1MB and in Windows it is 8MB. However, in IPv4 the maximum MTU is 64KB and so it is not possible to reflect the SMB multi-credit sizes of 1MB or 8MB at the network layer. In IPv6, there is support for Jumbograms allowing multi-megabyte MTUs. In theory the use of Jumbograms could lead to performance improvements in SMB over IPv6. In practice, you still need to datalink that can support very large MTUs. Few such datalinks exist. One example is Infiniband. Another possible option in virtualised environments is the use of virtual networks adapters such as virtio. At the moment, virtio supports MTUs up to 64KB even though Ethernet only supports MTUs of 9KB. It is conceivable that in the future this could be extended to allow for IPv6 Jumbograms.

Another possible benefit is the use by IPv6 of Path MTU discovery (PMTU). PMTU allows for an internal network to use the largest possible MTU without increasing the amount of fragmentation taking place within the network. Thereby improving SMB throughput performance. Whilst, in most modern networks, IPv4 also has Path MTU discovery support, IPv6 still has the edge as IPv6 PMTU is mandatory and available on all IPv6 nodes.

There are a number of other potential benefits from using IPv6. These include, for example, the removal of NAT (and CGN) from the transmission path. This makes possible communication using AD protocols and SMB over the wider Internet along with the use of IPsec to secure them. Both things which are difficult or impossible through NAT/CGN. Microsoft has leveraged this benefit in its DirectAccess product that many organisations are using as a replacement for their VPN concentrators.

Configuring IPv6-only Samba is very similar to the configuration of dual-stack Samba. The difference is the absence of IPv4 addresses (except on the loopback interface). The presentation covered a few issues that need to be considered in IPv6-only Samba deployments. These will be fixed in future Samba releases.

Finally, there was a demonstration of IPv6-only Samba operation and a discussion of IPv6-only Samba related topics.

At last week’s IPv6 Future Enablers conference, Erion’s Dr. David Holder gave a presentation on the Implications of Carrier Grade NAT (CGN). This presentation was a brief summary of the findings of the CGN Study that he undertook in 2013 for Ofcom, the UK’s telecommunications regulator. The presentation is now uploaded to Erion’s web-site and can be found here.

David Holder Implications of CGN IPv6 Future Enablers

In the Study, David Holder predicted that the downsides of CGN would lead to an increased adoption of IPv6. At the conference this was widely confirmed by fixed line and mobile service providers alike. All agreed that CGN is something to avoid and that IPv6 presents the only realistic long term solution to the IPv4 address exhaustion. Furthermore, all were agreed that IPv6 should be used to bypass the limitations of CGN.

At the conference, BT’s IPv6 Programme Director, Stuart Smith announced that BT intend to enable IPv6 for broadband users in 2015. He said that this was in part due to the limitations of CGN which BT trialled in 2013.

Last week saw the first IPv6 Future Enabler Conference in Edinburgh UK. The one day event had a very full schedule with speakers from, Erion, Cisco, EE, RIPE, Sony, IPv6 Forum, Go6 and Deutsche Telekom AG.

All the presentations highlighted a number of common key messages. These included the reality that IPv6 is already widely deployed, the fact that the problems of CGN are likely to drive even greater adoption of IPv6 and that today IPv6 enabled End Users find that over 50% of their traffic is over IPv6.

A highlight during the conference was when BT’s Stuart Smith (BT’s Director of IPv6 Programme) announced from the floor that BT intend to deploy IPv6 to broadband users in 2015. The reason that he gave for BT’s move to deploy IPv6 was the need to avoid the serious problems of CGN which BT trialled in 2013. This is closely linked to the CGN report published by Ofcom in 2013 for which the lead technical author was Erion’s David Holder.

David Holder Speaking at 2014 IPv6 Future Enabler

Overall the conference reflected a very exciting time for IPv6 generally and specifically in the UK. The news for the UK is particularly good where after many years of lagging behind the rest of the world by almost any meaningful metric we can now look forward to quickly catching up.

The IPv6 Future Enabler was sponsored by Erion, the world’s leading IPv6 Training company.

Erion are delighted to announce an exciting new IPv6 conference in 2014. This is the first UK IPv6 conference of its kind and the first to be held in Scotland.  Full details can be found below.

IPv6 Future Enabler:

20th November 2014, Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh, UK

We are proud to announce the launch of IPv6 Future Enabler, a one day conference focussing on the implications of IPv6 deployment. This conference is organised by Scot-Tech Engagement with support from the IPv6 Forum.

The event will bring together leading experts and industry representatives to share their extensive experience of IPv6 , featuring a unique and ambitious programme of presentations, case studies and discussion, the conference will consider the challenges posed by the exhaustion of the IPv4 address pool and the subsequent deployment of IPv6 and associated technologies.

This is the first conference of its type in the UK and the first IPv6 conference ever to be held in Scotland. Consequently, the event will present an opportune forum for knowledge exchange and debate with renowned experts and like-minded peers from across the globe.

The conference will consider:

  • Where are we now?

A review of the status of IPv6 in the UK and globally and ongoing implications of the exhaustion of the IPv4 address space.

  • How, when and why?

How when and why to deploy IPv6 in different organisations and network scenarios.

  • Realising the benefits of IPv6

An analysis of how best to realise the benefits of IPv6. Including new networking models and opportunities made possible through IPv6.

  • What next?

A discussion of what will happen next with IPv6 and how IPv6 will influence the future of emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT).

Why attend?

  • Learn from the extensive knowledge of renowned experts and the practical experience of industry leaders
  • Engage and network with like-minded peers from across the country
  • Contribute to compelling discussions and knowledge exchange


Due to generous support from the events sponsors, we have a limited allocation of discounted bursary places. Consequently, the first 50 delegates for this event will obtain a 50% reduced rate.

To register visit:

Discounted Rate = £99 , Standard Rate = £199 . Spaces are very limited so please book as soon as possible.