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IPv6 for Enterprise Networks Review

posted in Printed Material, Reviews
by on June 6th, 2011 tags: , ,

IPv6 for Enterprise Networks

Not too long ago CiscoPress offered up a copy of the new IPv6 for Enterprise Networks by Shannon McFarland, Muninder Sambi, Nikhil Sharma, and Sanjay Hooda in return for a review here on the blog. I jumped at the chance to write the review for the site blog and give something back (or because I love free stuff…take your pick).

Right up front I’d like to say thanks to Steve and CiscoPress for the copy of IPv6 for Enterprise Networks that was provided to me. There has been a fair amount of hype around the release of this book, and the timing of its release almost exactly to the exhaustion of IPv4 within IANA is I’m sure not a coincidence, so I had been very interested in picking up a copy for myself.

Alright, enough of the full disclosure, let’s get at the review.

I think I’ll start by saying that my assumptions on what the contents of this book would contain were completely inaccurate. I already own a copy of Deploying IPv6 Networks by Ciprian Popoviciu et al and I had assumed that IPv6 for Enterprise Networks would be an updated version of that book with a primarily Enterprise focus. While there certainly is some similarities between these two books “Deploying” is far more technical on the IPv6 specification and configuration whereas “Enterprise” is focused on proper design practices and real world deployment.

IPv6 for Enterprise Networks opens with a look at the current state of IPv6 and the business reasoning behind moving towards IPv6. Very quickly the tone for the rest of the book is established as being business oriented and not just pure technical babble. The authors go to great lengths to not only say you need to deploy IPv6, but explains the business justification that you can take to you CIO or your IT Director to make the case to migrate.

This book then moves into a review of proper network design. If you’ve ever read through the Cisco SRND documentation then most of this chapter will be familiar to you. If you’ve never read through the SRND docs then you should thoroughly read Chapter 2 of this book (and then head over to the SRND site) since it provides an excellent high level look at proper network design.

The network design review found in this book is not specific to IPv6, quite the opposite. These guidelines are principals that should be considered regardless of the Internet layer protocol in use. That said, I initially thought that this information was a little our of place what with being in an IPv6 book. As you read on you’ll see that it’s not so out of place and really does go well with a lot of the content in this book as it sets the stage for the later discussion in the various methods with which IPv6 can be deployed effectively.

From there we’re next treated to an overview of the various IPv6 deployment mechanisms (6to4, ISATAP, dual stack, 6PE, etc) and then a look at some of the features of IPv6 itself (Addressing, multicasting, QoS, IGPs, etc). It’s in these chapters that another tone for the book is also established: brevity. While a good number of technologies and features are outlined, there is a real lack of in depth explanation. This might not be totally true for some of the tunneling options available, but certainly the IPv6 protocol itself is quite quickly glossed over. I found that rather odd all things considered. Instead what this book presents is a quick look at the options, a brief explanation about some of the pros and cons of the options, and then refers the reader to other sources of information. You’ll find each chapter ends with an “Additional References” section that contains a number of links to web documents or references to hard copy printed manuals. This ranges from two items to three pages of items depending on the chapter and the material covered.

Once the basics of IPv6 are covered we find a chapter suggesting on how to plan for a successful IPv6 deployment next, followed by the real meat and potatoes of this book. Chapter 6 “Deploying IPv6 in Campus Networks” is really the chapter everyone will buy this book for, and that any network engineer/architect and IT manager needs to read prior to embarking on an IPv6 deployment.

Chapter 6 spans more than a quarter of the pages in this title, systematically and methodically looking at 3 different deployment models from just about every angle imaginable. This chapter uses the best practices for network design found in the first chapters to visually illustrate exactly how each deployment models functions and how to best deploy each model in the real world. Each option is completely explained in theory and then demonstrated with configuration examples. This chapter contains an immense amount of information, and the “glossed over” feel I mentioned above is certainly not found here. There are however many many references in this chapter to additional resources. While it does an amazing job of covering the material it set out to cover there is of course huge amounts more to be consumed should the reader choose to do so.

With the Enterprise deployment models down the next three chapter cover the deployment models for WAN/branches, data centre, and remote access respectively. These chapters are by no means as immense as Chapter 6, but that’s due to the real lack of options in the deployment options. How many ways can you configure a branch site? A remote user? Right, not that many. Regardless, these chapters are also good reads and shouldn’t be ignored.

The book wraps up with some notes on how to effectively manage IPv6 networks, and then quickly runs though a suggestion on how to build an IPv6 lab for testing purposes. These final chapters return to the brief look format found in other parts of the book, opting instead to provide references to more in depth sources instead of providing any real learning material about the technologies being displayed.

Overall this book is an interesting combination of “not quite enough” and “almost too much”. It will not teach you how to work with IPv6 from a technical perspective. You won’t learn about ICMPv6 and how it replaces things like ARP from IPv4. You won’t learn how ND works, or how RA’s can be used instead of a FHRP. What you will learn is how to properly design a network and how IPv6 can be used in that design. If used properly, this book will make you a better network designer.

If you are looking for a technical resource to teach you all the nitty gritty details about IPv6 this isn’t the book for you. If that’s your goal I would suggest instead Deploying IPv6 Networks by Ciprian Popoviciu et al that I already mentioned. Instead, if you’re looking on how to design an IPv6 deployment (in an Enterprise network) then this is your book. I would hope that every Network Architect and IT manager out there gives this book a once over as it’ll allow them to intelligently speak about IPv6 and help understand proper, effective network design. I would also say that every network engineer should give this a go to as it will certainly help them to speak to the business side of advocating an IPv6 deployment in a way that a CIO would understand. It’ll also reinforce good network practices (which we all need now and again).


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