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Because IPv6 has new features, i.e. it is not just IPv4 with more bits, you will need to build a test lab environment to experiment with IPv6 anycast, mobile IP, transition technologies, and so on. Given the amount of work that must be done before IPv6 can be fully deployed in production, and the short time before the global free pool of IPv4 addresses runs out in 2010, every ISP should be building their test labs today.

This page is for information that will help ISPs set up their in-house test labs, not for educational labs which are covered on the Educating Yourself about IPv6 page.

OSS Considerations

Even though it is not neccesary to manage your network over IPv6 it is likely that you will want to trial IPv6 Management Tools in your lab. Part of your lab trials should be to determine what management functions need to be done on IPv6 and what can be done with other protocols such as IPv4.

IPv6 Internet Access

Because you need to trial IPv6 peering and you are likely to be unable to interconnect your lab with other ISP labs, you should build a multi-AS environment in your lab network. Merit describes the lab environment for their IPv6 workshop in April 2007.

On the other hand, you might want to isolate your IPv6 test lab from your normal test-and-certify environment so that you CAN connect to the live IPv6 Internet complete with IPv6 peering. Collect volunteers who will run IPv6 on their workstations/laptops and connect them to the IPv6 lab in such a way that this is their only Internet access. You might want to go so far as to block their IPv4 addresses in web proxies and Internet firewalls so that they are forced to eat the company's new dog food. With a crew of technically knowledgable users you will be able to shakedown corner cases much quicker.

IPv6 Security and Potentially Disruptive Testing

Enterprise IPv6 lab environments should be isolated for the production networks whenever they are used for configuration and testing of security mechanisms or other infrastructure components that may be disruptive or introduce security risk.

There is a Python extension library called SCAPY that can be
used to generate IPv6 packets, both correctly formed and
incorrectly formed. Because it is built on Python it is
a fully programmable test data generator.

Read this presentation to see what it can do:
SCAPY and IPv6 Networking
and Google for SCAPY6 to find more info.

Fun Stuff

IPv6 network fax service anyone? Even colour copiers now do IPv6.

Code Block
(We got a new colour photocopier at work today - it's IPv6 capable.
None of us techs asked for it as a feature, and I don't think any of us 
actually got a look at the datasheet for it before it was bought. The 
first we knew of it supporting IPv6 was when the photocopier tech asked 
us if we wanted it enabled. I suspect the photocopier tech didn't even 
quite appreciate what he was asking. To him, it was probably just another 
photocopier networking option that the customer might want turned on.)

Any other IPv6 gadgets that you know of which might be fun to try out on the lab network?