Wednesday June 6th was World IPv6 Launch Day (WILD), a historic day when the Internet and cloud computing companies gained significant growing room.
IP addresses, which identify computers and other connected devices on the global network, are essential to the Internet’s operation, and the IPv6 protocol is coming not a moment too soon.
Its predecessor, IPv4 could handle 4.3 billion possible IP addresses. While that may seem like a lot, the last unreleased block was assigned by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) last year, and IPv5 was an experimental streaming protocol that never took off.
By contrast, IPv6 spans 340,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 unique addresses – which means it’s virtually unlimited.
It’s not only more IP addresses that makes IPv6 better than IPv4. There’s also streamlining in how addresses are assigned and connectivity recovered when networks change, along with standardization in how MAC address identifiers are handled. IPsec is also baked in, one of several improvements in overall network security.
If you use Android or the iPhone, or a version of Windows or Mac OS that was released in the past five years, it probably supports IPv6 as well as IPv4. The big problem has been that websites, household routers, and consumer Internet service providers (ISPs) have not supported it.
And for IPv6 to work Internet-wide, everybody needs to get on board — PCs, networks, routers, and websites, too.
A year ago, some companies switched on IPv6 temporarily, just to test it out. But this week to ensure that the Internet can continue to grow and connect billions of more people and devices around the world, thousands of companies and literally millions of websites permanently enabled IPv6 for their products and services as part of WILD.
By making IPv6 the new norm, these companies enabled millions of end-users to enjoy its benefits without having to do anything. There’s more on IPv6 at Wikipedia.
WILD was organized by the Internet Society as part of its mission to ensure that the Internet remains open and accessible for everyone – including the five billion people not yet connected to the web.
“The support of IPv6 from these organizations delivers a critical message to the world: IPv6 is not just a ‘nice to have;’ it is ready for business today and will very soon be a ‘must have,’” said Leslie Daigle, Chief Internet Technology Officer, Internet Society.
“We believe that the commitment of these companies to deploy IPv6 will ensure that they remain industry leaders. Any company wishing to be effective in the new Internet should do the same.”
At some point, the entire Internet infrastructure has to move to using the newer address space, since the differences in the protocols mean that computers with IPv4 addresses cannot communicate with machines with IPv6 addresses.
“IPv6 is critical to the future of the Internet’s underlying architecture, and to supporting the billions of devices that will connect to the Internet over the coming years,” said Tom Leighton, Chief Scientist and Co-Founder, Akamai.
“Having expanded our global IPv6 footprint to over 50 countries, Akamai enables websites to reach a growing audience over IPv6 with the performance and reliability that they have come to expect and demand from IPv4.”
Cisco SVP Engineering and General Manager Service Provider Business, Pankaj Patel, added, “The Internet has fueled remarkable economic growth and innovation that would have never happened without a network.”
“Today, we face an explosion of connected devices moving data and content, especially video, and of applications and services coming from the Cloud. IPv6 enables the network — the platform on which innovation is built — to scale and make more growth more possible, today and into the future.”
John Schanz, Chief Network Officer, Comcast, concluded, “We at Comcast take great pride in being an innovator and technical leader. As a result of our team’s hard work, enabling IPv6 in over a third of our network, I am happy to report that by today we have exceeded our goal of 1% of our customer base being enabled with IPv6 for WILD!”
“Thank you to the Internet Society and others for organizing and participating in this important event!”
The World IPv6 Day in June 2011 was a 24-hour “stress test” that focused on websites. It also served as a wake-up call that it was time to upgrade the World Wide Web.
At NANOG 52, the Internet Society’s Phil Roberts provided an introduction to World IPv6 Day and moderated a panel of key participants. Panelists from Akamai, Cisco, and Comcast presented their companies’ results including how they prepared for the event, issues that arose, lessons learned, and the current status of IPv6 in their networks.
World IPv6 Day Observations at the Technical Plenary at IETF81 further outlined the overwhelming industry response and several additional reports were delivered by participants in the IPv6 Operations Group at IETF81.
World IPv6 Day Operators Review described the traffic growth Hurricane Electric saw on World IPv6 Day, including significantly higher IPv6 traffic. In Comcast Experience with IPv6 Deployment, John Brzozowski presented results from Comcast’s trials including increased traffic on Teredo, 6to4, 6rd, and native IPv6 access. He noted that 50% continued to publish AAAA records after World IPv6 Day.
In Investigating IPv6 Traffic: What happened at the World IPv6 Day, authors compared IPv6 activity before, during, and after World IPv6 Day. They examined traffic traces recorded at a large European Internet Exchange Point (IXP) and on the campus of a major US university; analyzing volume, application mix, and the use of tunneling protocols for transporting IPv6 packets.
Comparing IPv6 and IPv4 Performance shared the results of a comparison of performance measurement between IPv4 and IPv6 among their vantage points in the network and 46 of the websites who turned up IPv6 on that day.
And finally, in World IPv6 Day, Phil Roberts summarized the rationale for the 2011 event.
The June 6th, 2012 WILD was a permanent commitment across the distributed computing industry, laying the foundation to accelerate the deployment of IPv6 across the global Internet.
Major Internet companies and ISPs permanently enabled IPv6 on their websites and across a significant portion of their current and all new residential wireline subscribers. Home networking equipment manufacturers enabled IPv6 by default through their router products, and additional commitments to IPv6 by companies beyond websites demonstrated broad support of the new Internet Protocol.
This move was imperative as the last of 4.3 billion IP addresses enabled by the current protocol IPv4 were assigned to the Regional Internet Registries in February 2011.
Already there is no remaining IPv4 address space to be distributed in the Asia Pacific region, and very soon the rest of the globe will follow. IPv4 address space is expected to run out in Europe this year, in the US next year, and in Latin America and Africa in 2014.
IPv6 provides an essentially unlimited number, which will help connect the billions of people that are not connected today, allow a wide range of new devices to connect directly with one another, and help ensure that the Internet can continue its current growth rate indefinitely.
For more information about WILD and the participating companies, as well as links to useful information for users and how other companies can participate in the continued deployment of IPv6, please click here. Share wisely, and take care.