Tag Archives : IPv4 June 2011

World IPv6 Day: Final Look and “Wagon’s Ho!”

By: Rob Malan -

After reflecting on the data from IPv6 day, the phrase the best comes to mind is: “Wagon’s Ho!” It’s going to be a long hard slog to IPv6-Land. Yesterday’s IPv6 flag day looks to have been a success. After a decade of implementation work by the infrastructure vendors in building towards IPv4 functional parity, combined with the months of preparation by the content and service providers in constructing the routing and namespace frameworks, IPv6 day came off successfully. For a 24 hour period starting at midnight UTC, anyone with IPv6 access connectivity could get to some of the largest content providers’ data through their v6 stacks. With six of our customers’ help, we were able to get a glimpse into some of the details of the day.

Figure 1. Application breakdown for native IPv6 traffic from our six carrier partners.
click to view full size image

For a bright 24 hour period, shown in Figure 1, the IPv6 network looked a little bit more like its IPv4 big brother. As we have shown in some of our previous posts, the traffic mix for the IPv6 network could be best described as flotsam and jetsam: encrypted file transfers, peer to peer traffic, and experimental protocols. However, during yesterday’s v6 day the mix was dominated with web traffic. The proportion of web traffic grew during the day up until the midnight cutoff point where some of the major content providers withdrew their namespace support. At midnight UTC the web traffic falls off the cliff and the traffic mix returns to its pre-v6-day chatter.

Figure 2. Percentage of IPv6 traffic of all Internet traffic in our six carrier partners.
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Figure 3. Proportion of Native IPv6 traffic versus total IPv6 traffic in our six carrier partners.

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The good news shown in Figure 2 is that IPv6 traffic roughly doubled during the v6-day period. However, doubling a fraction of a percent, is still a fraction of a percent. These datasets correlate anecdotally with those from a lot of providers that we’ve talked with at our customer summit this week in Amsterdam. Combined with the results shown in Figure 3, they lead us to think more about the access side of the Internet. Even with a quad-A record in their DNS response, we just didn’t see Internet clients switching over in mass to the IPv6 content servers. It’s not surprising when you think about the level of indirection almost all subscriber side internet connections use. Unless you plug your home PC directly into the cable/dsl modem (another potential point for v4/v6 breakage), you probably have at least a mediating DNS caching device (home router or wireless basestation) that may not elegantly switch back and forth from v4 to v6. The inertia and complexity of changing this element of the Internet is massive.

Again, I’m left thinking of a Wagon train metaphor. Yesterday was the start of a long road that will take us to IPv6-land. It will pass through the more efficient use of IPv4 address space due to market forces; the operational pressures to not run two separate networks that need debugging and maintenance; and the not insignificant security threats introduced by the incredible complexity and new boundary conditions of the juncture of v4 and v6 networks. I have no doubt that the wagons will eventually get there, but it will not be easy.

Additional resources:
Internet Society: Participant Dashboard
RIPE NCC: World IPv6 Day Measurements
Google: World IPv6 Day
Akamai: IPv6 Statistics
Comcast: IPv6 Day Q&A
Comcast Leverages Arbor Peakflow SP to Facilitate IPv6 Transition: Featuring John Brzozowski, Comcast’s Chief Architect for IPv6

IPv6 – Is 2010 the year of the big plunge?

By: Carlos Morales -

IPv6 is one of the biggest topics of hallway conversations at the Austin, TX NANOG conference last week ranking right up there with “what I did last night” and “did you try the barbeque from xxxx?”

The questions on many people’s lips are “What are you doing with IPv6″ and “when are you rolling it out?” 

This is a change from past meetings I’ve attended where IPv6 was talked about but it clearly wasn’t foremost on most people’s minds.   This year, most folks seem to be doing a lot more thinking and planning around IPv6.  I spoke to a smattering of ISPs, content providers and eyeball (MSO and DSL) networks and all were along the path of putting an IPv6 framework in place – peering agreements being reviewed, IPv6 network technology being analyzed or implemented, costs being analyzed.    

The heavy IP address users, the content providers and the eyeballs, are the ones that will drive the mass migration.   They see the signs of IP address exhaustion and see the wall coming; the countdown timers show that IANA will run out of space in 576 days and estimates say that the RIRs will run out of space in ~ 2.5 years.  One challenge is that ARIN is still handing out IP address blocks with little to no resistance.   This ensures business continuity but it also makes it so that some people, particularly those responsible for the bottom line,  don’t perceive the gravity of the situation and hold back major IPv6 initiatives.  The evidence of IPv4 exhaustion is so overwhelming that it is only a matter of time before the objections are overcome and major IPv6 initiatives begin across the Internet community.

The other traditional objection to IPv6 migration was that vendors did not support it.  That’s not the case anymore.  Most vendors are delivering now on IPv6 roadmaps.  There’s definitely not the extent of technologies and tools that there are for IPv4 but providers now have choices.   

That brings me back to NANOG where lots of folks are talking to each other to find out who is doing what, when.  IPv6 requires extensive cooperation between providers and customers so unlike other technologies, mass adoption is a mandate for it to be successful.  Aside from the cost of moving to IPv6, there’s considerable nervousness within the community about moving forward because of the unknowns involved in IPv6.  Complexity, training, performance, security and interoperability are all major factors in the fact that the mass IPv6 migration hasn’t happened even after over 15 years of availability and after it became clear that the ultimate exhaustion of IPv4 space was imminent.

The analogy I can think of is that the Internet community is a set of people crowded onto a long pier.  The community is now taking up most of the pier and it will soon be filled.   The folks on the peer can jump in the water and get endless room.   There are some known challenges with jumping: the water is cold, some of the people don’t swim very well and they know that they’ll get their clothes wet.  There are a number of unknowns:  What else is in the water that can hurt me?  Will a fellow swimmer latch onto me and make me drown, is there a strong current that’ll carry me away?    Sure, some folks are in the water already but they waded in from the shore and most are only ankle or knee deep.  Only a small handful are over their heads.  Eventually, everyone is going to jump in the water but everyone is waiting for someone else to take the first plunge. 

In September 2009, my colleague Craig Labovitz reported that IPv6 still represents much less than 1% of all Internet traffic.  Is 2010 the year that we see the first mass migration and we start seeing a more significant amount of IPv6?   From what I’m hearing here at Nanog, it just might be…

For those who are considering the plunge, a report was just published by NIST about the considerations when deploying IPv6.