Why IPv6 Today? Martin Levy interviews with Brocade

Some variants on a question you’ll often hear at an Internet meet-up or conference: “What equipment do you use?” and “What routers are you relying on?”  If you’ve met up with Mike, Martin, or Owen somewhere along the road, you’ll find the answer to that question very quickly: Hurricane Electric’s network is built with Brocade switches and routers.

In a recent video interview, Martin got a chance to talk about Hurricane Electric’s use of Brocade equipment, IPv6 development, and our efforts to maintain one of the world’s most efficient and reliable networks.

Here’s what he shared:

“Hurricane Electric runs a very high bandwidth network.  Our primary customers are buying wholesale IP backbone bandwidth.

That means that the performance – the performance of the core, the performance of the interface out to the user, the performance of our internet peering that is key to our networking success – all has to be best in class, best in history.  We do have that on this platform, and we have that and we have it in a way that is manageable and in a way that enables us to continue to grow.

We know that we can add significantly to this network both geographically and in bandwidth, and in the ability for us to handle the continuing complexity of Internet routing.  For example, we know that even if the Internet backbone routing table size doubles or more, we’re still in good shape.  If we know that, as our IPv4/IPv6 routing changes to where v6 becomes far more important, that we will end up having no problem in holding enormous amounts of routes.  And yet not end up losing any performance while we do that.

For Hurricane Electric, we are about providing access to the Internet and the Internet is changing at the moment.  We are going from a pure IPv4 network, a network that was partly designed in a research world not expected to last this long nearly 28-30 years ago, to now where we’re looking at a network that needs transition.  IPv6 is that transition.

It provides the additional address space, it provides various features that enable the Internet to continue to grow.  But it requires service providers like ourselves to take IPv6 seriously. and for us to take IPv6 seriously, we need a vendor that supplies us that takes IPv6 seriously.

Our company is known globally as both largest IPv6 backbone but more importantly, as one that has been at the leading edge of pushing this commercially and throughout other vertical sectors. In our case, we needed a platform that would make IPv4 delivery and IPv6 delivery on equal terms.  It’s called dual stacking, but more importantly you must be as good in the IPv4 world as you are in the IPv6 world or vice versa. And that’s what we had as a requirement both for our hardware and also for our services and capabilities within, in our case, our network operations center.

V6 is probably the single most important thing that is, or should be, on people’s minds at the present moment if they’re operating a network.  If they’re relying on the global internet, then they need to understand why v6 is important.  We know that we’ve got the solution for our customers from that point of view. but more importantly, we have a platform that has been delivering for us, now for many years, the required v4/v6 services.

So our network is not just about moving bits. If we can’t measure where they go, then we’re pretty much running blind.  And measurement is not just the simple management of how much bandwidth is on a port, whether internal to the network or to a customer.

We rely on the sFlow platform and the data we get from the routers in order to understand where our traffic is flowing. Not just at the large level, at the tens of gigs worth of traffic, but sometimes even down to the 50 or 100 kilobits worth of data that is flowing around that may be at issue for some form or another.  sFlow data fed out of the routers, collected, and then for us interpreted real time, with history being kept in the region of about 5-6 months worth of data, is enough for us to understand where our bits are flowing.

We can save money by doing this, we can improve the quality to our customer, and more importantly than all of that, we know for such a large network, that we are operating in a reliable and efficient manner.”

Video credits go to Brocade.