It is a given in the IT industry that training and education (formal or informal) are critical parts of any team attempting to learn new skills and technology. It is not possible to keep up with the pace of change and innovation that happens in IT without a focused effort on learning new things. This comes in many forms and formal training and education (on the job or formal classroom) are a common way to address these educational requirements. IPv6 training for many companies has been difficult to come by, outside of books and more recently from some online courses. It is not unusual for the material covering IPv6 to be old, outdated, incorrect or missing completely from the course content. Very few training materials have been re-written to include IPv6 at the required depth and those that do usually make a minimal effort to “bolt on” IPv6 (often only theory with no practical knowledge or deployment guidance) so they don’t have to redo all the training course material.
At this point (the end of 2018) it makes sense to receive accurate and current IPv6 training. Without any formal training around the topic (and especially given the U.S. statistics of adoption and the rapid use of IPv6 in mobile and cloud provider networks) it would be a mistake to assume your team or organization is doing the “right thing” with regards to IPv6. While there will always be a few who go out-of-their-way to learn and perhaps share their knowledge within teams the reality is, few can keep up without formal training. If a new employee came to work for you today and did not know any IPv4 you would have to take the time to educate them appropriately before allowing them to work on any of your systems. Today, given the foothold IPv6 has, you need to make a similar investment in IPv6 training for your entire team as the most critical part of an overall IPv6 adoption process.
You are likely making an investment now for cloud technologies like containers, Kubernetes, serverless and countless other new innovations happening in IT. IPv6 needs to be included in that investment due to the inevitable impact on the organization as everyone moves past an IPv4 network to a dual-stack one. In rare cases, you may end up doing IPv6-only to solve specific business problems instead of carrying forward all the baggage that IPv4 has with it as technical debt. Regardless, your team will need to know the impact IPv6 will have and how to appropriately design, deploy and operate a network that has IPv6 running on it.
So, knowing you need to invest in training, what kind of training makes the most sense for you and your team? This is a hard question to answer given the different ways that people learn and retain information but here are a few suggestions:
- Formal training (remote or classroom delivered) still has huge value for several reasons. The content is designed specifically to address a wider technical audience. It is meant to be delivered in a no-distraction way (typically in-person and in a classroom but rising in popularity are live remote participation classes) and is completed in a fixed period of time (usually one or more days up to a week in duration).
- Online self-passed training is also becoming very popular. The content is designed like a classroom, but students can jump around to what is most important to them. Often you have access to the content as a subscription and can consume it again (repeat the course) for free or at a very low cost.
- Books and presentations are still a thing and you can learn a lot from them if you have the dedication and time. They are also very cost effective.
- Formal on-the-job training (see below).
- Informal on the job training.
- Self-study in home lab environments.
The good news is that all these methods advance your knowledge of IPv6 and help you and your company adopt IPv6 effectively and with confidence. Also, investing in people in the form of training is a cornerstone of good management to help your company achieve their business objectives. Given the impact that IPv6 will have on every Enterprise in the years to come making an investment in learning IPv6 is critical to reduce the risks in the adoption of the keystone Internet technology.
Here is a list of some quality IPv6 resources that match the methods listed above.
Online basic IPv6 training is available from me on Pluralsight, from Tom Coffeen on O’Reilly Media, and from Tim Martin on Cisco. There is some older content available from the Internet Society, and ARIN around IPv6 but be careful, some of the content is pretty old and out of date, or no longer available. RIPE offers some online IPv6 training courses. If you are pursuing your Cisco Certified Network Associate Routing & Switching (CCNA), Cisco Certified Network Professional Routing & Switching (CCNP), or your Cisco Certified Internet Expert (CCIE), then you are likely learning some IPv6 as part of that certification preparation.
The books I recommend are:
IPv6 Fundamentals: A Straightforward Approach to Understanding IPv6; 2nd Edition by Rick Graziani from Cisco Press
IPv6 Address Planning by Tom Coffeen from O’Reilly Media
IPv6 Essentials, 3rd Edition by Silvia Hagen from O’Reilly Media
Understanding IPv6, 3rd Edition by Joseph Davis from Microsoft Press
IPv6 for Enterprise Networks by Shannon McFarland, et al from Cisco Press
IPv6 Security by Scott Hogg and Eric Vyncke from Cisco Press
Practical IPv6 for Windows Administrators by Ed Horley from Apress
As for formal on-the-job training, I recommend bringing back the brown bag lunch-and-learn sessions to allow everyone to share knowledge and collaborate. Some may like the informal approach or do it yourself method and something like Hurricane Electric’s IPv6 Certification process might just be the thing. No matter what method you pick, make learning and using IPv6 part of your 2019 goals!
You can find me on twitter as @ehorley and remember…
IPv6 is the future and the future is now!
Ed Horley (@ehorley) is CEO of HexaBuild.io, an IPv6 consulting and training company. Ed is Co-chair of the California IPv6 Task Force (CAv6TF) and authored the Apress Press book on Practical IPv6 for Windows Administrators. Follow HexaBuild on Twitter and LinkedIn.