June 8, 2011, has come and gone and with it so has "World IPv6 Day." This was one day on the Internet when vendors of all kinds, shapes and sizes from the Googles and Microsofts to the smallest fry around, offered up their online presences in IPv6 form, led by the Internet Society (ISOC) to demonstrate the feasibility and usability of IPv6 around the world. In a happy surprise, the Internet kept on going that day with nary a hiccup while IPv6 traffic volume enjoyed a predictable spike.
But IPv6 will soon be coming to a network near you, if it isn't on your network already. Case in point: if you use Windows 7 Homegroups on any of your networks, you're already using IPv6 (Homegroups don't work without IPv6, because that's the only protocol it uses to do its thing). Anyone who's been following the gradual diminution and exhaustion of IPv4 addresses knows they've now all been assigned to various regional Internet registries so there are no more unused blocks of IPv4 to hand out. And when those few remaining IPv4 addresses are all allocated, the only option going forward for new IP addresses anywhere in the world will be IPv6.
That's why it's time to start learning about IPv6, and why you will find that all network certifications going forward will include IPv6 coverage, topics, and questions. If you want to get an IPv6 shingle today, your primary choice is to re-up your Cisco, Microsoft, or other network certifications and bite the IPv6 bullet along the way to whatever new or re-issued credential you might want to pursue. Thus, for example, you can dig into requirements for current Cisco CCENT, CCNA, and higher-level credentials and find IPv6 covered therein. Likewise, if you dig into Microsoft Technical Specialist or IT Professional certs for Windows 2008 Server, you will find IPv6 topics part and parcel of that curriculum.
But if you want to dive into IPv6 and start learning and using it today, Internet Service Provider Hurricane Electric (www.he.net) offers an interesting--and free--IPv6 certification curriculum. And it's hands-on, too, as it should be. Because so many other ISPs (including most of the biggest cable and communications companies) don't yet offer ubiquitous native IPv6 connectivity to customers (you'll find pilots here and there around North America, more in Europe and Asia) Hurricane also offers a free tunnel broker so you can tunnel IPv6 inside IPv4 to get to their site, and they'll forward native IPv6 traffic to and from your network at no charge.
Check out HE.net's IPv6 Tunnel Broker Web page to get information about setting up an IPv6 tunnel to your network(s), and visit their IPv6 Certifications page to sign up for and start working toward a useful and informative IPv6 certification. It may not earn you a big raise during your next annual review, but it is sure to help you not only accumulate some brownie points, but also to learn how to set up, configure, and work with IPv6. I'm on my way down that path myself, and so far I've been able to get some improved insight into IPv6 addressing and address formats, to set up and operate an IPv6 tunnel, and to start digging more deeply into setting up and running DHCPv6, DNSv6, native IPv6 e-mail, Web, and other services as well.
This one is definitely worth checking out: interesting, useful, valuable, and free!