August 25, 2010, 9:02 AM — When the ITU-T IPv6 Group gets together in Geneva next week, one of the things they should discuss is the need for their very existence.
For many decades, those of us with some longevity in the information and communication technology (ICT) field have witnessed recurrent cycles of rampant protocol politics. At its worst, these debilitating cycles occur when the political concerns are not even relevant anymore.
The current outbreak is dubbed IPv6itis, and unfortunately it is at its worst in a venue that should know better -- the ITU-T -- which has spun up two groups that are needlessly consuming international institutional resources that could be applied instead to deal with major infrastructure issues rather than protocol trivia. Two strong arguments and some useful history are provided for a significant re-direction.
Relevancy of the mandate
At the outset, anyone dealing with this subject matter should read Laura DeNardis' book Protocol Politics, published in 2009.
It is almost entirely about IPv6, and reviews in copious but readable detail the controversial history of IPv6 since it emerged in 1994 as a reaction to controversies and politics of the time.
Although the book is oriented for the TCP/IP Internet community oriented, it does establish that IPv6 was a geek response to the Internet Architecture Board's adoption at Kobe in 1992 of the joint ITU-TISO OSI Internet protocol known as CLNP. CLNP was strongly supported by all governments (including the United States) and most of the industry at the time.