Although IPv6 network technology has been emerging since the turn of the millennium, adoption has been slow. However, IANA allocated the final IPv4 address blocks in 2011, and the Asian block allocation is exhausted. PSTN obsolescence and the implementation of VoLTE will ensure the general deployment of SIP over IPv6 networks.
Despite ubiquitous claims of SIP ‘standards compliance’ among communications products, the goal of universal inter-vendor interoperability remains unrealized. The reasons for this are beyond the scope of this paper, however, suffice to say that the additional complexity of IPv6 implementation only compounds the interoperability challenge.
One approach towards inter-vendor interoperability would be for a well-resourced and highly influential communications customer to declare a de-facto standard profile and to enforce vendor compliance. However, in order to be credible, the interoperability profile would be required to have certain important qualities:
- It would have to present a complete and coherent set of requirements to ensure inter-vendor interoperability of SIP over IPv6 technology.
- Compliance with the profile would have to be a meaningful goal that vendor members would aspire to achieve as part of their product plans.
The closest match for this is the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Unified Capabilities Requirements 2008 Change 3. UCR 2008 is a comprehensive body of work that defines the requirements for SIP technologies to be certified to operate on a DoD IPv6 network.
The IMTC recently announced the general availability of the SIP Over IPv6 Networks (SIPv6) Test Program. This program, which is free to IMTC members, provides tools and resources to enable the testing of members’ SIPv6 products either internally or remotely against other member’s products.
All major US IP communications vendors aspire to comply with the UCR 2008 standard in order to be approved as a supplier for U.S. DoD contracts, which are clearly very lucrative. Preparing for DoD certification at the Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) is time-consuming, resource-intensive and potentially error prone. Many IMTC members have indicated that a tool that helps them prepare for JITC certification would be a valuable resource. The IMTC program components comprise:
- A comprehensive test plan.
- An automated test tool.
- A secure IPv6 test network.
- A test environment.
The University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) was selected to create the major deliverables of the SIPv6 program based on their extensive experience in SIP and IPv6 testing. The test tool is based on the UNH-IOL INTACT™ test scripting platform and can be installed on Windows or Linux servers; the test client can be installed on Windows, Linux or OS X systems; full documentation is provided.
Screen shot of the test tool at test completion
The test network is a secure IPv6 network implemented as a VPN and allows IMTC members to conduct interoperability testing with other members as well as to interoperate with equipment hosted within the test environment.
A conservative estimate on the value of the program to members in terms of actual cost and opportunity cost is of the order of 1.5 engineer years. This provides a many-fold return on the investment of IMTC membership. Further information is available on the IMTC SIPv6 program; as well as joining the IMTC to gain access to the tool.