The Altruist

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Arces Joins World IPv6 Day

Written by Adrian Goins on Feb 9, 2011 in IPv6, Arces

The next generation of Internet addresses, called IPv6, has been around for a long time, but only in recent months has the effort to adopt IPv6 begun to pick up steam.  IANA has allocated the last of the IPv4 space and in a matter of weeks there will be no more IPv4 space available for businesses to use.  In anticipation of this, Arces has joined with Google, Sesame Workshop, Bing, Yahoo, and others for World IPv6 Day on June 8th.

Many sites on the Internet already have their systems running on both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses, but they've been running them in parallel.  Facebook has www.facebook.com and www.v6.facebook.com.  Google has www.google.com and ipv6.google.com.  They've been offering IPv6 services to those people connected to the IPv6-enabled Internet, but they've been keeping IPv4 as the primary means of accessing their site.  The reason for this is that a computer may have an IPv6 address already but not have IPv6 connectivity outside of the local network.  Systems which run in dual-stack mode (having both types of addresses) are designed to connect with IPv6 before IPv4.  If there is no IPv6 connectivity to the Internet, then it would appear to the user that the site isn't responding.  After some period of time it will fail over to IPv4 for that request, but then the next request will also time out.  For Google or Facebook, this perception is negative for their business, so they won't cut their services over to IPv6 for the main sites.

No one doubts that IPv6 is important or that the transition has to happen in order for the Internet to continue to operate and for businesses to continue to grow.  However, there is a Catch 22 involved.  No one wants to transition to IPv6 for the client-side communication because the majority of destination sites on the Internet are available over IPv4.  None of the businesses want to make the leap to IPv6 because all of their clients are on IPv4.  This stalemate will not break on its own, which brings us to World IPv6 Day.

World IPv6 Day is being promoted by the Internet Society and is backed by ISPs, integrators, portals, and others on the business side.  The plan is that on June 8th, for 24 hours, participants will convert their main websites to be IPv6-enabled and serve them along with IPv4.  This will expose the delays mentioned above, but it will also expose a great deal of information about the readiness of IPv6 for the mainstream.  Where problems appear, businesses will know what they must fix in order to offer IPv6 services.

The idea is bold, but necessary.  In a matter of months people will have to know what to do when their ISP gives them a network that looks like 2600:C206:A:0100::/64.  This is a paradigm shift in the operation of the Internet, and we're moving into the last leg of the race to implement it.  The more businesses that play rabbit and sleep while the turtle of IPv4 exhaustion waddles toward the finish line, the more horrific the great transition to global IPv6 services will be when it hits.  A project like World IPv6 Day is audacious and will succeed because it breaks through the inertia of the stalemate.  Once the ball starts moving, inertia will hopefully keep it in play.