IPv6 Launch Day Business as Usual

'Nothing to see here folks ... ' There's no cause for concern as thousand of sites leave IPv6 access turned on and the slow shift to 128-bit addressing takes root. Asia's on board but U.S. enterprises are on the slow boat.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Jun 6, 2012
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Today is World IPv6 Launch Day and thousands of sites around the world are turning on IPv6 and leaving it on in an event intended to help accelerate the adoption of IPv6.

IPv6 is ready for regular use

"The biggest thing that we learned from IPv6 Day in 2011 is that IPv6 is ready for regular use," Phil Roberts, technology program manager at the Internet Society, told Enterprise Networking Planet.com. "I don't think the big websites would be participating in the launch day if it didn't work."

IPv6 is a 128-bit addressing space that provides significantly more addresses than the 32-bit address space of IPv4. Since the free pool of available IPv4 address space has been exhausted, in order for the Internet to continue to grow, IPv6 is needed for new addresses. The launch event is a follow up to World IPv6 Dayheld in 2011. Both the IPv6 Day and Launch Day events have been coordinated by the Internet Society and there is a direct relationship between the two events.

Roberts noted that the 2011 event was a non-event in the sense that everything worked smoothly. Following that event, the discussions advanced to getting IPv6 up and running for more than just a day, which is what has led to the launch event today.

While big websites like Facebook, Google, YouTube and Netflix are running IPv6 today, that's only part of the story. Having IPv6 accessible websites is important but it's equally important to have Internet access points, including service providers and equipment vendors stepping up to the plate. This will be a key agenda item for the Internet Society this year.

Among the home router vendors participating in Launch Day are Cisco's Linksys and D-Link. Roberts said that the two vendors have committed that home routers shipped as of today will be IPv6 ready by default.

"This is a huge step, it's a great move forward for IPv6 deployment for end-users," Roberts said. "Now IPv6 will part of regular business and websites are now making IPv6 all part of their day to day operation and just another part of the Internet experience."

IPv4 not going anywhere

As IPv6 access is now opening up, IPv4 is not going away. In fact, the way that many sites are likely to enable IPv6 today is by tunneling it back through IPv4 content. Roberts noted that from a long term perspective simply tunneling access to IPv4 is not going to be healthy for a growing Internet. Over time IPv4 will not be able to accommodate the growing number of devices. By fully transitioning to IPv6 scalability, will be easier to achieve.

The move toward more IPv6 access will snowball as a result of today's launch in Roberts' view. He noted that after today, the most visited websites on the Web today will all be IPv6 enabled.

"Technology snowballs and, as some big websites push their suppliers so they can turn up their IPv6 website, it makes it possible for all the other users of that supplier to do the same sorts of things," Roberts said.

Enterprise adoption is slow

While the Internet Society has made great progress this year in getting carriers and big websites to adopt IPv6, the same cannot be said when it comes to U.S based enterprises.

"We've never considered enterprises to be on path for early adoption of IPv6," Roberts said. "We've never thought that businesses would be on the leading edge for IPv6 deployment."

But, as more websites and content become available over IPv6, he expects that at some point enterprise will move, as well. "As IPv6 gets rolling, it will become clear that there are business to business activities that can be done over IPv6 and enterprise will start to go that way," Roberts said.

Geography will likely play a role as IPv6 is being adopted more rapidly in the parts of the world including the Asia-Pacific region. As U.S. based enterprises need to interact with companies in those regions, IPv6 will eventually become a necessity.

"I see enterprise adoption of IPv6 coming along as part of the technology snowball," Roberts said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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