miércoles, 16 de septiembre de 2015

Internet6 is mainstream at leading countries - Work out your Digital6 strategy!

Internet6 is mainstream in US, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland with lots of other countries massively rolling out. UK, Canada and China are joining this month. If you are in Internet business be sure to adapt faster than your competitors!

Stats update shows more countries joining and good progress for leaders. 

This month new stars are: China, Canada and UK.

Who will be the Internet actor adapting faster and using Internet6 for Digital product differentiation?

martes, 25 de agosto de 2015

IPv6 Adoption progress

Coming back from vacations I am happy to see that global IPv6 adoption keeps quite well on track and we see many countries joining the green tabs.

It looks like Europe is getting well positioned as half of the countries are over 1% threshold and Germany, the most populated one, is really close to the 20% mainstream break point.

For the rest of the world, we can highlight US leadership (21,3%) being already mainstream and some leading countries in SouthAmerica (Peru, Ecuador & Brazil) and Asia (Malasya, Japan & Australia). 

China and India will definitely change the world picture when climbing over 5%. 
It is just a question of time. Meanwhile, is your Internet business or start-up getting ready ?

Source of statistics: Cisco IPv6 Stats

viernes, 17 de julio de 2015

2015: the year Internet6 got mainstream

Almost like for people, it took around 18 years for IPv6 become mature & trigger its way to change today's Internet. We're mostly used to frenetic changes. However, bear in mind that slow shifts in Technology are often the most pervasive & with greater impact in the end. 

Last June 27th 2015 the US has largely exceed the 20% threshold of v6 hits to Google servers. It takes me back to a meeting some years ago at ISOC headquarters in Washington where we identified 20% of traffic as the breakthrough event meaning IPv6 Internet was actually born.

20% seemed to be really far back in 2012 where some countries started to rise over 1%, identified as of kicking off massive deployments, as a result of the IPv6 Global Launch event.

US is not really the first country over 20% but its demographic relevance and technology superpower role in the global network truly makes a difference. In Europe, Germany, another demography and technology reference, has climbed up to 16,25%.

The following diagram (source: Eric Vyncke stats) depicts key countries growth in North America, SouthAmerica, Europe and APAC.

Considering %, Belgium (34,75%) is the Internet6 world leading country, while Peru (14,79%) takes this role in SouthAmerica followed by Brasil (2,74%). In APAC, Malaysia (7,83%) and Japan (6,88%) take the lead while we are awaiting that China (0,93%) and India (0,47%), the world demographic superpowers awake.  

As in previous posts, I made myself some calculations to roughly estimate where Internet6 users are massively appearing in absolute terms. Therefore, Digital companies may estimate how many and where Internet6 users really are.

Internet Service Providers

Now that Internet6 is becoming a reality in the most technology-advanced countries, If you are looking for an ISP providing IPv6, you may consider those with highest deployments as of the Top 100 measurements published by Internet Society that operate in your country.

A key aspect is that mobile IPv6 deployment is happening much faster rather than fixed lines (xDSL, cable, fibber, etc).

The following list shows the most relevant mobile Telcos that have a significant IPv6 measured deployment. It is calculated by combining the above-linked ISOC Top-100 list and the global operator groups included in the Wikipedia top 40 Telecom operators (ranked by revenues).

Digital Products/Companies

The largest Digital Companies have already positioned themselves on the Internet6. If you are a Digital company and you are not still there you might be exposing to higher chances of extinction.

The same way IPv6-only mobile networks are happening (e.g. T-Mobile USA) we will see soon IPv6-only services or specific features of services, wait and see! tic-tac-tic....

Let's summarize, in headlines, what's going on as of July 2015:

Apple iPhone/iPAD. 
Akamai CDN. This Content Delivery Network is providing IPv6 since years ago and it offers nice stats on IPv6 hits evolution together with its state-of-the-Internet IPv6 related report.

Android OS. As described in this OS comparison table.

Chrome WebRTC. As described here.

Facebook Services. A recent report shows that Facebook is by far one of the most clever digital companies conquering the Internet6:
  • 9% worldwide traffic to Facebbok is IPv6. 3% to Facebook messenger and 12% to Instagram.
  • Traffic to Facebook services over IPv6 doubles every year.
  • Facebook IPv6-only Cloud reaches 90% v6 traffic (> 100 Terabits per second), targets 100% for 2015Q2.
  • USA v6-enabled mobile users surf 30-40% faster than regular IPv4 mobile Internet users.
Google & Youtube sites
  • 7,74% worldwide traffic is IPv6.
  • Google computes and provides the most used IPv6 world deployment stats.   
OpenStack Cloud Hosting

On the other hand, some key offerings/players are still missing:

AWS Amazon hosting: AWS does not support native IPv6 although it does offer IPv6 transport to its Elastic Load Balancers (ELB), which provides a mechanism for getting your web content reachable using IPv6. As a consequence, enabling IPv6 in your services hosted in AWS will mean an extra cost. 
This 2013 post calculates the total yearly cost for IPv6 in an hypothetical typical example: $219.60.
An alternative is to use IPv6 enabled cloud/hosting. Here you can find a complete list. In my case I have been successfully using hosting virtual.

Github opensource code repository: The place where most opensource developers publish their code is not reachable over IPv6 and code publication is only available over IPv4 connections. Gitorious was enabled in the past but they lost it because they moved their servers to AWS Amazon. One potential alternative today is installing your own Gitlab server or using any commercial service supporting IPv6, for instance host virtual.

Twitter micro-blogging: Although some servers have recently got IPv6 addresses, service is still v4-only reachable.

Entrepreneurs, Developers, Startups & Investors

This is a critical field where the Internet6 uptake and concepts awareness is extremely low while, on the contrary, it might be an excellent opportunity as current big players may adapt slower than new service infrastructures and IPv6-enabled users footprint is exponentially growing.

Education is key here as it will provide a competing advantage to those listening. If you are organizing developer events, hackathons or challenges be sure Internet6 is considered and network infrastructure is providing it.

If I were a seed-capital investor and a startup focused on digital Internet products would not have knowledge and plans regarding the Internet6 (today >20% Google USA hits are IPv6) I would not put any single cent there... On the contrary I would ask them if they know how IPv6 is evolving in their expected footprint and if they have thought on any competing advantage that might be provided in their portfolio to this emerging group of customers.

Monetization of IPv6

In other words: "Where most of IPv6-related revenues will come from ?"

Let's make a brief summary of what is discussed today:

The most solid and predictable source of benefits will undoubtfully be the support and services/infrastructure updates for SMEs and large corporations. Those potential customers have largely subcontracted their IT and IPv6 has not been considered at all but will have a big impact on normal operations, new architectures/services and security approaches/concerns.

A second line, IPv6 education courses to IT companies and SMEs/large companies, will be a subsequent good option too.

A third potential source of benefit is positioning in the Internet6 with existing products that are not still provided by dominant players today. For instance, several cloud providers are providing native IPv6 hosting services which are not offered by the mainstream Cloud providers today. There are many examples, for instance there are no DIY dashboard server sites, etc.

A forth, more risky but also potentially more fruitful possibility is to design new Digital products, services and architectures of services that do not fit well on the current v4-Internet but may work well on the Internet6. New architectures for IoT are already being tested, but not massively exploited today. Also improving P2P services today or even P2P approaches to existing services might take benefit too.
The future is not written!  A start-up doing well this way may even replace one of the giants today.

Further Reading

Jari Arkko (IETF Chair) thoughts on Sudden changes and IPv6 for everyone.

Cisco forecasts IPv6 will be 34% of total Internet traffic in 2019 (it is 6% in 2014). It also predicts 52,2% of IPv6 global mobile traffic (It was 13,3% in 2014). 

AKAMAI says IPv6 strong growth keeps on according to their own studies.

Apple updates its IPv6 strategy with IOS9 and Capitan Operating Systems. They will go from nearly 50% preference up to choose IPv6 99% of the time. 

Thread IoT IPv6 based stack.

Swisscom enables Internet6 for 67% of its users.

Adding IPv6 requirements to your RFP. Read it here.

Technical Readings:

APNIC's "Design Architecture Options for IPv6 Deployment in Broadband Access Networks"

ARIN's "Preparing Applications for IPv6".

IPv6 tech essentials in one page.

Google's IPv6 FAQ.

What Every Network Admin Should Know About IPv6.

Alcatel's paper on 464XLAT in mobile networks

lunes, 19 de mayo de 2014

Internet6 keeps its growth while IoT appears to be a "Killer App"

This post is about understanding how providing Internet6 to end customers has finally become a main trend in 2014 as more and more ISPs are joining the move. In parallel, experts say success of booming Internet applications such as IoT may highly depend on IPv6 roll out.

Let's update & analyze the stats on leading countries (our previous analysis: Feb-2013, 15 months ago).

The pic included above (source: Eric Vyncke stats) let us conclude at first: 
  • USA shows an exponential growth: up to 7,25%, from 2,23% in 2013 and 0,42% in 2012.
  • Germany the same: now 7,98%, from 1,16% in 2013 and 0,17% in 2012. 
The two above are extremely important countries due to their tech influence and demographic weight  in their respective regions.

We also see countries that have joined the race with a extremely good performance:
  • Belgium tops with 16,45% (it was 0,88% in 2013!). Also Switzerland with 10,68% (1,07% in 2013) and Luxemburg -not shown in the pic- with 7,95% (3,69% in 2013) show that many countries in Europe want to lead innovation in IPv6 services.
  • We also see other promising countries in EU: Norway, Czech Republic and Portugal.
  • In Latin America, Peru is the unbeatable leader with up to 4,83% (it was 0,25% in 2013 and plain 0 in 2012). 
  • China - not shown- shows some increase from 0,67% in 2013 up to 0,84%.
On the "more work/attention is needed" side we see:
  • India, that goes from 0,27% in 2013 to 0,09% today.
  • Brazil, which might have a significant influence, only goes from 0,04% to 0,05%
  • France, doesn't grow this year, actually keeps it almost stable from 5,05% to 4,93%.
  • Romania, the leading country in EU before, comes down to 5,68% (from 8,21% in 2013).
  • All other countries in those regions that may miss the opportunities given by this game-changer.

Obviously, the conclusion is that IPv6 to end users is growing exponentially in tech leading countries that also count with the highest number of Internet accesses, such as US and Germany and it is only a question of time that others will follow behind. We can also conclude that numbers really grow quickly then.

What's the risk of being late then? The actual problem is failing to deliver innovative scenarios & opportunities to entrepreneurs, developers, innovators, startups & all other companies in those countries.

App & Services developers should also pay attention to this trend, as long as millions of users might choose an IPv6-enabled alternative, if proven more efficient or functional.
Selling worldwide, App developers must not care if IPv6 is rolled out in their region. However, knowing where millions of v6-enabled users appear is truly relevant in order to know how and where launching a v6-capable or even v6-only product means and opportunity.

Here we go!

The next diagram shows IPv6 daily traffic in AMS-IX exchange point in Europe. It has grown up to almost 20Gb peaks.

The yearly evolution suggests average traffic got more than double as of May2013.

"Things" will use the new Internet to get connected

With all this growth going on, some experts start to point out IoT as a potential field of application of the Internet6, even with the consideration of potential killer-application.

Read more on IPv6 relevance for IoT at:

However, do not underestimate the applicability of Internet6 for any product that might be benefitted from distributed architectures and simplified networking.

Finally, App developers deploy the logic of their services in the Cloud, so the next post will attempt to discuss a comparison of IPv6-ready public and private Clouds commercial/experimental offering.

Enjoy and get your Apps & networks ready for the future!

More news and updates at Twitter: @carlosralli  

jueves, 7 de noviembre de 2013

i6station: Contributing to an OpenSource specific project

This post is about a software project I am contributing to during my free time together with other software developers. It aims to exploit IPv6 specific advantages in real life scenarios.
If you are a developer willing to contribute or just learn v6-coding for fun, do not hesitate to join the i6hub (placeholder of i6station and other projects).

The main idea of i6station is to lower the barriers for developers [ including some of us ;-) ] to quickly build Apps/Services oriented to common life scenarios such as: a home, a conference or event, a friend's meeting, a car, etc.

The bet today is building services solely based on smartphones+cloud resources.
While these 2 sources meant thousands of ideas to become true, there are potential new ones not fitting or performing well into that simple approach:

  1. Services exploiting local resources we cannot (or don't want to) connect, upload nor share in the Cloud (public Internet). This means normally Communications & resources we want to keep local for efficiency or security purposes.
  2. New local network settings we would like to deploy (a multicast channel, a dedicated Wifi, a v6 tunnel to enable incoming traffic to local services, IP-mobility, etc).
  3. Address places where there is no (good) Internet connectivity or we lack the connectivity type we wish. 

i6station aims to complete the fast growing world of Apps with open (and cheap) hardware that is physically installed in the same location Apps/services are provided. Of course one may argue that someone may use a smartphone for that, but certainly you just don't want to empty your phone battery, share it or risk its integrity.

The first and main reason I decided to join this initiative is the idea of building a v6-specific platform meaning that IPv6 advantages are given a strong priority compared to v4 backwards compatibility.

The second reason is the selected open hardware platform is the well-known Raspberry Pi that I really love to work with, previously at home for my DIY projects, and nowadays also at work as a result of those own personal hobbies.

The 3rd reason is the chose model is a platform model. In the beginning the idea was more to build up some services for those environments but after some brainstormings the new direction is to build a "platformized" product.
Then It's is not only about building standalone Apps but, at the same time, not attempting a super-mega-platform for others usage. Just develop for ourselves to be able to develop more ideas and faster in the future. If more people join, great but that is not the unique or central goal.

The final -and key- reason is the platform will be 100% opensource and Apps built on top may have any license they wish, just mention they are built ontop. Let's make things usable, no limits, that's it.

From a developer's point of view, the PI+i6station will expose lots of local resources with the successful and easy-to-learn REST APIs model, which will be served mainly over CoAP/UDP/IPv6, or sometimes over HTTP/TCP/IPv6. IPv4 might be also used, but features are never guaranteed in such a legacy environment.

Finally, some ideas we believe v6-specific model helps to:

  • We can deploy many local IP public or private networks with different prefixes for different devices or services/Apps. We give the freedom to the App for creating those subnets, let's enable developers to create network domains with no network commands knowledge at all.
    • As a reference we will check what is being worked out by IETF Homenet WG.
  • We can always choose to use public addressing or ULA addresses.
    • ULA is similar to v4 private but we avoid two problems:
      • 1) limited number of nodes in the network
      • 2) potential overlapping when merging networks.
  • We ensure P2P services (including those based in WebRTC) will always work and they will be offered in the most efficient way.
    • For home environments we will check latest proposed access configurations (draft-v6ops-vyncke-balanced-ipv6-security-01.txt, Jul 2013)
  • We integrate CoAP/6LowPAN m2m networks without introducing proxies or translators.
  • We introduce new possibilities with IPv6 staless auto configuration.
  • We introduce new possibilities with IPv6 renumbering.
  • We introduce new possibilities with IPv6 mobility.
  • We introduce new possibilities with IPv6 security Headers.
  • We introduce new possibilities with IPv6 multicast.
  • We are in the best position to explore and incorporate new possibilities that entities (SDOs such as IETF, research centers, universities or companies) will develop only for IPv6 once it gets massively deployed and thus used as main Internet transport.
  • If we focus on IPv6 for this new product, we remove the chains of IPv4 and legacy devices. For them, we can provide proxies or specific module-interfaces.

If you follow or join this project, just Enjoy as much as I'm doing!  :-)

martes, 21 de mayo de 2013

Peru & Telefonica lead the number of IPv6 users in LatinAmerica

This short post aims to report the explosive growth of Internet6 users that Peru is experiencing during the last months. The relevance is twofold: it is the first country in Latinamerica region with a serious IPv6 uptake and it is also the first spanish-speaking leading country. Telefonica del Peru is the ISP behind this numbers, according to the Telefonica press release linked below.

Folks, I have been observing the latest statistics in the region of Latin-America and it seems that Peru IPv6 customers are increasing at an exponential rate (Now it is about 2,10% out of the total accesses to Google originated in this country).

Using the methodology presented in a previous post, I conclude there are about 226,496 IPv6 users in this country, becoming the absolute leader of IPv6 deployment within this region.

If you are designing and developing IPv6-only/enabled Digital products or services, do consider to serve them in Spanish too, as long as Latinamerica is getting on board!

Today, 6/6/2013, Telefonica has published a press release stating a relevant deployment in this country that is obviously the cause of Peru leading numbers. These are excellent news in such a day, the first anniversary of the World IPv6 Launch Day.

- English: Telefonica leads IPv6 deployment in Latin America

- Spanish: Telefonica lidera el despliegue de IPv6 en Lationamerica

Congrats to Peru and my colleagues at Telefonica del Peru!

jueves, 18 de abril de 2013

Internet6: Enabling the Web of Things

This post describes how the IPv6 Internet brings a new approach for m2m or IoT services resulting on a number of benefits for all players in the value chain as well as opportunities in pretty different vertical businesses, such as: geek-like gadgets, smart homes, connected cars, smartcities, logistics, e-health, etc. 
To write this article a bunch of previous studies and hands-on with real sensors was needed. The collaboration and good ideas of my colleague and friend Cristina Peña (@crisisP) are an essential part of those results. If you want to read a similar resource in Spanish language, follow this link.

How is the machine-to-machine landscape today?

Most M2M systems are based on sensors or actuators that use some kind of low-level communication protocol to communicate to a gateway which, in turn, enables users' interaction, service creation or expose services/APIs to local or remote platforms or Apps.
Some communication low-level protocols work over existing or new wiring and others work over radio systems. Many times they tend to be proprietary protocols, far from the IP convergence that is happening in most domains.
On the contrary, IoT gateways are typically connected using the standard TCP/IP to the Internet, normally over 2,5G/3G/LTE, Wifi or wired access points.
This way, most Internet of Things implement the generic model drawn in the following diagram.

Actually, I am myself a fan of home smart devices for a long time at home. My current setting does follow the model presented above:

While my own setting works fine, X-10 usage of home power wiring results on unreliability at many other installations. At the same time, RF X-10 sensors are normally unidirectional and with limited coverage and reliability.

Several new technologies have been developed to improve the historic but still popular and cheap X-10 for smarthomes. In parallel, others have been developed for industrial applications or other sectors where reliability and other features are a must.
Popular wired solutions are Lonworks, KNX (very popular wired system for smarthomes in EU) and, similarly, well-known wireless solutions today are Zigbee or Z-wave.
Zigbee and Z-way are both proprietary technologies that implement bidirectional devices improving reliability and coverage by the means of  radio meshed networks (IEEE 802.15.4), where nodes may use others to route messages to a gateway.
Devices send and receive messages to/from the gateway, that might implement local services or be connected to the Internet and expose services or APIs to remote platforms or Apps.

The Web of Things

The following picture shows a different and emerging model, where sensors are truly nodes of the Internet and expose Web services themselves.
This model enables sensors to send observations directly to the customers using direct unicast links, a hierarchy of relays or even multicast flows. This enables new approaches saving resources, complexity and costs at the m2m backend, that still may manage the registration, configuration and actuation over the devices.
Moreover, in some specific scenarios devices could directly be managed by end-user Apps (e.g. from a mobile) without the intervention of an m2m backend.

In contrast, what we have seen so far are devices connected to gateways that offer services. Normally, APIs exposed to remote apps or platforms are provided over the successful REST WEB paradigm.
REST model exposes resources via URIs (WEB resources) and remote clients are able to perform CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) operations over them. For instance, you can send a command to a sensor or get an observation from it by accessing the proper URI (e.g. http/server/home-sensors/temperature/living-room) at the server with the correct HTTP method and payload (normally XML or JSON descriptions).

The next two sections explain the technologies delivered by the IETF to make this a feasible paradigm and further sections explain available commercial implementations and how you can get to play with it, if interested.

6LowPAN: efficiently making sensors nodes in the Internet6 

Electronics integration advances and economy-scale have resulted in powerful and cheap radio-mesh sensors operated by regular 1,5V AAA batteries during one year or more.
Such devices are perfectly able to run an embedded reduced OS (Operating System) that includes a TCP/IP stack, libraries for Web services, and basic REST services exposed to the overall Internet.
However, IP is not efficient at that level because of the headers overhead and link-layer convergence mechanisms.

This exactly what the IETF has been lately working out, creating an specific IP protocol for WSN (Wireless Sensor Networks) or LowPANs (Low-power PANs).
Obviously, in order to have enough addresses for sensors and avoid the need of NATs, what the IETF has actually delivered is an IPv6 protocol for those networks, known as "6LowPAN".

6LowPAN is basically an IPv6 with extremely compressed headers and much more efficient protocols for routing, neighbor discovery, etc. Because of this, it still needs a gateway to get connected to the Internet6, but differently to other solutions such as zigbee or z-wave, the gateway only operates at the OSI layer 3, behaving more as a router between the 6LowPAN domain and the outer world.
Therefore sensors are real Internet6 nodes that can be even pinged from any node, if the security policies allow that to happen.

6LowPAN has become an emerging technology with a respectable wide implementation  by different companies and open software and hardware initiatives, as described in further sections of this article.

CoAP: making sensors service plane efficient for 6LowPAN comms

As said before, m2m platforms normally expose services exploiting the successful REST model that relays on HTTP/TCP.
The problem of using the same model for sensors to expose services is that TCP is a connection-oriented protocol introducing plenty of overhead due to session establishment (3-way handshake) flow control and retransmissions in case packets are lost (an often fact in LowPAN networks).

In order to optimize communications at this level, the IETF CORE WG has delivered CoAP, an application level protocol that we can consider a REST implementation (CRUD operations) over UDP.
CoAP has been designed to be fully compatible with the current Web infrastructure, including existing proxies, new CoAP-HTTP proxies, browsers, etc.

CoAP has been largely implemented so far. There exist libraries available for C, C++, Java and Python.
We can also find CoAP libraries in embedded open Operating Systems with 6LowPAN support for sensors (e.g. ContikiOS, TinyOS).

Detailed Architecture of the Internet6 Web of Things

As shown in the following diagram, sensors provide services via CoAP (over 6LowPAN) that might be translated later to HTTP/IPv6. However, we can also think on clients directly accessing CoAP URIs.

The following diagram describes all the protocols and stacks involved in this model.

Existing Internet6 Web of Things Products & Solutions

Sensinode: Building the 'Embedded Web'

Sensinode is Finland-based company that is, in my opinion, an example of pioneering the above-described 'Web of Things' paradigm. They are also major contributors in the IETF for the standardization of  6LoWPAN and CoAP and they were a founder of the IPSO Alliance.

Sensinode has developed a complete commercial end-to-end software solution at the devices and backend platform sides.
The following snapshot is directly taken from their WEB product description, where more information is available.

With such a product and technology expertise, Sensinode is offering solutions right today for connected homes, lighting control and smart grid networking.

Arch Rock 6LowPAN stack/devices

Arch Rock Corporation is a systems and software company that builds innovative products and technology for wireless sensor networks. The company was founded in 2005 and is based in San Francisco, California, and was acquired by Cisco in Sep 20th 2010.
As described in this white-paper, Arch Rock was bringing an IPv6 Network Stack for Wireless Sensor Networks as early as in 2007.
Arch rock has largely contributed to standardization as well. An example is their contribution in 2008 to this "Interoperability Test for 6LoWPAN" IETF draft, together with Sensinode corporation introduced above.

As a curious example, the winery cellar of Vinton Cerf (also known as one of the 'fathers of Internet') shown in LAs Vegas CES 2013 is based on Arch Rock 6LowPAN devices and stack.

BTW, Vinton Cerf has actually been one of the promoters of IPv6 adoption.
I had the extremely nice opportunity to make an IPv6 Video-on-Demand demo to him long time ago as part of an event related to his "Fathers of Internet" prize in the "Principe de Asturias Awards" (Spain, 2002). Let me remind a bit those wonder years, with a picture of that moment.

My colleague Antonio Lucientes (@AntLucientes) also in the picture. Of course, more colleagues (@CrisisP , @AmandaAzTer , @auro74, @alien1912 and others) were not in the picture, but at the backoffice making all the demo to work too!  :-)

An Android operated LED-bulb. Google first incursion in Internet6 m2m?

In 2011 Google's I/O developers conference the Montain View company announced an demoed "a competitively priced and supremely energy-efficient omnidirectional 60-watt equivalent light bulb with a small, embedded computer chip that can be turned on and off or dimmed with your Android-equipped smartphone, laptop, or tablet".
According to this article, such an Android LED bulb was to be based on the 6LowPAN standard.
However, in this techcrunch note in 2012 they doubt if that was really to happen as a commercial product. On the other hand, this recent post in March 2013 opens the possibility of further work.

Despite of Google's strategy or plans on this regard, the fact is to develop this kind of bulb is feasible and it has been schematized by NXP manufacturer (JenNet-IP solution).
The following diagram shows the whole architecture of the service. Yes, all in the bulb chipset!

The DIY (Do-It-Yourself) way

Wanna prototype m2m solutions with 6LowPAN & CoAP? Keep on reading ...

While normally software has become a commodity available to the broad community to create solutions, devices (hardware) have been a closed realm where only large specific companies or harware savvy could prototype, test and deliver solutions. This fact has recently changed with the appearance of open hardware kits, that include powerful microprocessors for the standards of this domain, such as Arduino, shields for Arduino including myriads of functionalities, sensor motes, etc.
There is even a circuit called Zigduino based on the generic Arduino, and fully compatible with its shields, that includes the IEEE802.15.4 chipset for radio mesehed network communications.

To complete the whole picture new tiny PC-like cheap boxes have appeared in the market enabling anyone to easily develop m2m gateways. A good example is the well-known Raspberry-PI type B suitable for this applications, using a free and open linux-based OS and sold at a price of $35.

As a consecuence, nowadays prototyping and building complete m2m solutions is easier and cheaper than any other time before.

The statement above is also valid for 6LowPAN and CoAP sensor technologies, so this is my contribution as a kind DYI manual on this:

1. A first item to select is the free operating system to use in the sensors. I have checked ContikiOS and TinyOS both with lots of supported hardware platforms.
ContikiOS is programmed in C while C# used in TinyOS. There are many resources in the web to compare both platforms. In my case, I selected ContikiOS.

2. Once you selected an embedded OS, you have to select a hardware platform.
In my case, I did a first analysis with the supported Contiki hardware page.
If you like to make your own hardware you have to choose those chipsets supported by the OS and then design and create your circuit board. There are also multiple examples of boards available in the net.
If you do not feel to play so much with hardware you need to find out a provider of "motes" which are basic prototypes with some sensors onboard and often come with a USB to make tests with your PC quite easy.

Regarding ContikiOS, I found several providers. Some of them are:
  • Zolertia, a Barcelona (Spain) based company, that sells Z1 motes at a very competitive price.
  • Advanticsys, a Madrid (Spain) based company, selling also XM1000 motes at a good price.
  • Zigduino. This is actually an Arduino clon with an IEEE802.15.4 radio meshed network chipset. If you're a fan of Arduino you may choose this one as long as Arduino shields are compatible. Another way is to add the proper radio shield to Arduino.
  • Redwire, a US based company, selling the porpular and cheap EconoTag motes.
  • Arago Systems, a Sophia Antipolis (France) based company, providing the wismote.
In my particular case, I selected Advanticsys XM1000 motes for my experiments. The company provides libraries for both TinyOS and ContikiOS.

3. Do not forget to buy one extra sensor or a USB gateway to connect a computer for the tests.
   In my case, I use another XM1000 motes connected to a MacBook Pro, but Advanticsys provides this specific USB dongle.

4. Install a VM in your computer to compile software that will be transferred to the actual sensors.
For the Contiki OS that I use, this is explained in detail in this page.

5. Develop your software using 6LowPAN and CoAP libraries in the OS. Compile the software and transfer it to one or more sensors to perform your trials. Enjoy!
If you go for ContikiOS as well, there are some first examples provided together with the standard distro that you installed in the virtual machine.


The following picture summarizes a recent study with a comparison of various ways to encapsulate REST operations, mainly to compare CoAP/UDP with previous approaches.

Future Work and further analysis 

There are mobile vendors that have started to consider 6LowPAN and CoAP technologies as a way to incorporate smart gadgets (measuring user heartbeats, number of steps, speed when running, etc)  and even wearable computers (textiles with embedded gadgets).

The key for this approach is the implementation of 6LowPAN over Bluetooth Low Energy so devices will talk to the mobile using that (instead of IEEE802.15.4 that is not expected to be supported by mobiles in the short term).
At the same time, the mobile device that is connected to the Internet via 3G or Wifi is an ideal placeholder for the 6LowPAN gateway and even v4-v6 translator/proxy.

In such a model, gadgets offer CoAP services to the user and to external platforms. Think for instance on a heartbeat sensor that normally provides the info to our sport-training platform and that automatically sends its observations to medical urgencies whenever abnormal periodicity or intensity of heartbeats are detected.