The Challenge of Deploying IPv6 in the Midst of a Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic found the technical team of Colombia’s National Disaster Risk Management Unit (UNGRD) moving forward with the development and deployment of IPv6. This unexpected obstacle further strengthened the idea of advancing in the transition to the new Internet protocol.
This momentum led the organization to register for the latest edition of the IPv6 Challenge, a competition designed by LACNIC to promote the use of this protocol in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The work of the Colombian team was recognized for its excellent quality standards and the methodologies it used. LACNIC News interviewed Rafael Ignacio Sandoval Morales, General Project Manager at IPv6 Technology of Colombia.
Colombia has always played an active role in the field of ICTs. What prompted you to participate in the latest edition of the IPv6 challenge?
LACNIC’s IPv6 Challenge is an opportunity to show Latin America and particularly Colombia what the National Disaster Risk Management Unit, a pioneer within its sector at the national level, has achieved in terms of its transition to the new Internet protocol. Our experience will encourage others who are just starting this process.
We chose this moment to apply because IPv6 development and implementation at UNGRD was mature enough, and the Challenge gave us the chance to validate this degree of maturity and to find out if what we had done met the standards and complied with the methodologies proposed for this type of implementations.
Taking one of the first places in LACNIC’s IPv6 Challenge places UNGRD among the winners and makes us feel very proud for Colombia. We measured ourselves against many other projects from different countries and we were evaluated by a committee comprised of well-known Latin American experts. This means that we did things more than well.
What lessons did you learn as a result of the IPv6 Challenge considering that your participation was marked by the appearance of the COVID-19 virus?
The appearance of COVID-19 represented a challenge for the technological infrastructure of any entity, so we had to adjust all our processes and resources to meet user needs.
The implementation of IPv6 allowed us to continue providing various technological services that are key to our organization, without many of our business divisions suffering any interruptions. In fact, at the beginning of the pandemic there was a significant increase in the demand for technological services due to the relocation and virtualization of employment. That’s when we started to notice that our clients are consuming more services via IPv6, although this is transparent to the users.
Which initiative did you enter to the Challenge? How many people were part of your working team and what results did you achieve through this process?
UNGRD is at the technological forefront and always strives to comply with the guidelines issued by the Colombian state, in this case, those defined for the transition to IPv6.
To do so, UNGRD organized a tender to select a consultancy services provider to accompany the process of transitioning to IPv6, with the goal of minimizing possible risks as well as increasing quality, knowledge and expertise. The team at UNGRD was made up by Luis Javier Barrera and Javier Soto, and was accompanied by an interdisciplinary team from IPv6 Technology SAS (www.ipv6technology.co) who provided their advice for the diagnosis, planning, implementation and commissioning stages. This synergy and collaboration throughout the project were what ultimately led to a successful outcome. In addition, we have also advanced in compliance with the regulations provided by the Colombian Ministry of ICT.
What advice do you have for those organizations that would like to deploy IPv6 in their networks?
IPv6 is undoubtedly a challenge, but it is also a requirement for business continuity. While technical support will obviously be provided by the IT department, we recommend raising the issue with senior management. “If you don’t implement IPv6, you will lose global connectivity and have trouble with the adoption of new technologies.” This is a luxury that no management can afford.
Likewise, the staff should also be trained in the different areas of ICT that use IPv6, as the transition involves multiple changes compared to IPv4, both in terms of configuration as well as in terms of management and administration of infrastructure and services.
Because it is a medium- and long-term process, having clear goals and understanding the process is essential for defining priorities for the services that must be deployed and implemented, aligning them with any programmed changes of technology, and planning for the necessary investments. Always considering compatibility and compliance with the IPv6 protocol. Based on our experience, a proper selection of our workers and consultants if necessary is also very important.
In your opinion, is Colombia truly aware of IPv4 exhaustion and of the need to deploy IPv6 to sustain the current Internet business model?
Today, there is greater awareness of IPv4 exhaustion. The country now has a better understanding of the need to bring all its platforms to IPv6 because no business model will survive without Internet access. This is precisely why this new protocol is essential. While there is still much work to do and articulate, the efforts of the Ministry of ICT with its various regulations, standards and actions are also worth noting, as they have served to support the entities in the country.