Compaq Discloses Mobile IPv6 Ambitions

Compaq
Computer Corporation
has quietly launched a major push for the development
and usage of IPv6. In what appears to be an effort to shed its image as
a maker only of home PCs, the computer giant views IPv6 as the enabling
technology
that will allow it to take the lead in connecting the world
through mobile devices.

“From top level management down, IPv6 has been identified as one of Compaq’s
enabling technologies and core assets,” said Bennesa Lyon, senior manager
of business development and high performance servers, at the Telecom division
of Compaq.

She added that the company is committed to pushing the technology at
every stage, from developing standards to bringing commercial products
to market.

Quiet aggression


Although there has been little fanfare surrounding their efforts, Compaq
has been involved with IPv6 virtually from the beginning.

“In 1993, our engineers developed prototypes with the Internet Engineering
Task Force (IETF)
to help define the look of the IP next generation protocol,” noted Lyon.

In 1995, Compaq fielded the first public interoperability testing of
IPv6 at TCP/IP expo. One of the first implementations of basic IPv6 functionality
was offered in Compaq’s early adopter kits in their Tru64 UNIX and OpenVMS
operating systems. Last year, fully functional IPv6 capabilities were
made commercially available in both operating systems.

The Compaq Tru64 UNIX version 5.1 operating system includes Resource
Reservation Protocol (RSVP), which Compaq claims is the “first IP specification
to use and define the IPv6 flow label — data that establishes a packet’s
priority, which is essential for quality of service within IPv6.” Additionally,
an RSVP API is available that allows access to the IPv6 flow label to
enable resource reservation across a network.


Mobile crusade


“In May of this year, in Stockholm, Compaq launched an IPv6 mobile demo
which leverages our Tru64 UNIX AlphaServers and our iPAQ Pocket PC,” Lyon
said.

Lyon was hesitant to provide details about their Mobile IPv6 efforts,
noting that it’s in the research and development stage at the moment.
“I can tell you that we are aggressively pursuing pieces of Mobile IPv6
along with some customer opportunities,” she said. “We are also going
to incorporate a number of pieces that will give it a unique telco flavor.
It’s very exciting.”

Timetables for a commercial release are not clear. Early estimates said
a Mobile IPv6 prototype kit would be available on the Tru64 UNIX platform
in the “fall of this year.” However, Lyon noted that a release data is
dependent on “the basics of IPv6” along with development of “some of the
Windows products like CE.” According to Lyon, “much depends on getting
IPv6 commercialized in Windows CE for the Pocket PC.”

Compaq has also begun work on a translator or gateway for enabling communication
to and from IPv6 and IPv4. Lyon sees this, along with having the basic
IPv6 infrastructure in place, as a ‘must have’ if mobility is to become
a reality. Another imperative is a firewall, which Compaq is also working
on and plans to have available in the near future.

Multi-point offensive


Currently, Compaq offers a beta version of an IPv6 enabled Apache Web
server along with an IPv6 enabled mail server and client for OpenVMS.
Efforts are also underway to enhance current support for IPv6 in the Compaq
operating systems.

According to Lyon, “the next generation of Tru64 UNIX and OpenVMS will
add support for some transition mechanisms, tunneling and some DNS extensions
APIs to the base operating system. In addition, with every server that
runs Tru64 UNIX we include Internet Express, what some know as Open source
solutions, which includes a mail server with Imap 4 or POP 3 interfaces,
mail clients, pine, a send mail applications and a TCP wrapper application.”

They may not be making much noise about it at the moment, but Compaq
is positioning itself as a leader in the nurturing, growth and future
of IPv6.


Jim Thompson is a freelance writer for sister site ISP-Planet.com.

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