IPv6 Day is Coming (But Not Until June)

The free pool of new IPv4 address space is nearly gone, yet IPv6 adoption has hardly begun.

In order to help prove that IPv6 is ready to handle a major influx of Internet traffic, the Internet Society is organizing World IPv6 Day, set for June 8, 2011. Major Web properties including Google and Facebook have already committed to the effort, which will see fully IPv6 services run on their main websites for at least a 24 hour period. The World IPv6 Day effort is intended to be a test of the next generation Internet addressing system, but it won’t mean that IPv4 will be shut-off either.

“What will happen on IPv6 Day is websites will enable IPv6 on their front doors,” Leslie Daigle, the Internet Society’s Chief Internet Technology officer told InternetNews.com. “So anybody that has IPv6 capabilities that goes to the participating sites will be able to reach them over IPv6, without any special configuration or addresses.”

Daigle added that on that day, IPv4 access will be available for people without IPv6 connectivity. The test is all about trying to enable those with IPv6 to see what will happen.

Currently IPv6 services are typically configured as part of some type of dual stack or tunneled approach where users have both IPv4 and IPv6.

“A lot of operating systems today have IPv6 configuration that gets turned on if IPv6 is available,” Daigle said. “For a number of people they may end up accessing the participating sites without necessarily specifically doing anything to their configuration.”

Daigle is encouraging as many websites as possible to participate in the World IPv6 Day effort. In order for websites to be IPv6 enabled they need to have the proper AAAA DNS records as well as being hosted on an IPv6 accessible host.

“This will be a learning opportunity for all concerned to see what, if anything doesn’t work and perhaps most importantly – to see what really does work,” Daigle said.

The challenges that Daigle expects to show up are mostly around configuration issues. She added that there can be some configuration issues with tunneling IPv6 as opposed to just going with native IPv6. Daigle noted that she isn’t expecting any major surprises and it’s her hope to be able to document the fact that there are no major surprises, even when traffic is more than the minimal amount that it is today for IPv6.

“The biggest challenges at this point really are in demonstrating that IPv6 is ready for prime time and not just for users to use it but also for businesses to deploy their services regularly,” Daigle said.

From a reporting perspective, Daigle noted that plans are still being finalized on how IPv6 performs across the various participants on World IPv6 Day.

The World IPv6 Day effort is part of the evolution of the need for IPv6. In March of 2009, Daigle declared at an industry event that, “IPv6 is like broccoli.”. At this stage of IPv4 depletion, Daigle is changing her tone somewhat.
“I think IPv6 has now moved along to the bread stage rather than broccoli,” Daigle said. “Some people will eat it ravenously and others are a little bit skeptical.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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