Tag Archives : IPv6 June 2011

Monitoring World IPv6 Day

By: Arbor Networks -

On 8 June, 2011, Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Akamai and Limelight Networks will be amongst some of the major organisations that will offer their content over IPv6 for a 24-hour “test flight”. The goal of the Test Flight Day is to motivate organizations across the industry – Internet service providers, hardware makers, operating system vendors and web companies – to prepare their services for IPv6 to ensure a successful transition as IPv4 addresses run out

For more information: The Internet Society and World IPv6 Day

Internet Society is taking the lead with their Participants Dashboard. A number of other organizations are providing various monitoring support, from End User Checks to DNS Health checks. You can find a complete listing at the Internet Society’s website.

Arbor Networks is providing traffic monitoring support and our goal is to collect Internet-wide IPv6 measurements and help to isolate any performance problems.

We did an initial analysis of IPv6 traffic for the 48 hours leading up to the start of IPv6 day, in order to better understand the impact of IPv6 day on IPv6 usage.  This data is based on six Internet service providers who are capable of carrying both native and tunneled IPv6 traffic, and who have deployed fully IPV6-capable routers at their peering edges which can export traffic statistics for IPv6 traffic.   These providers’ IPv6 traffic was analyzed for our recent “Six Months, Six Providers and IPv6″ study available at /asert/2011/04/six-months-six-providers-and-ipv6/.

Throughout the day, Arbor will be monitoring and updating the following charts:

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Who Put the IPv6 in my Internet?

By: Craig Labovitz -

About this time last year, we released a study on the state of IPv6 deployment in the Internet. Our August 2008 paper found diminishingly small traces of IPv6 — less than one hundredth of 1% of Internet traffic.

This year?

In a dramatic reversal of long-term IPv6 stagnation, global IPv6 traffic globally grew more than 1,400% in the last 12 months. Even more remarkable, this growth is due primarily to one application and one ISP.

We’ll explain in a moment, but first some background: Both our 2008 work and this IPv6 study used traffic statistics from 110 ISPs participating in the Internet Observatory. Though the Observatory is capable of collecting native (i.e. not tunneled) IPv6 traffic statistics, only six ISPs out of the 110 in the study currently have routers and collection infrastructure with native IPv6 enabled. As a result, our data generally includes only IPv6 traffic through Teredo and 6to4 tunnels. Further, since only a handful of Observatory participants use monitoring infrastructure with payload visibility, our study sees only the UDP Teredo control traffic (i.e. not the data portion).

The above technical limitations and our somewhat dismal 2008 assessment of IPv6 deployment engendered a bit of criticism. The main critique (such as this posting) seems to be that we significantly under counted IPv6. In particular, many pointed to the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX) switch statistics which show a Gigabit or more of IPv6 traffic (far more than we found in our study). Others pointed to the high rate of IPv6 address allocations as evidence of broader IPv6 deployment.

From the perspective of a year later, we stand by our 2008 IPv6 findings. A July 2009 news server outage confirmed suspicions that AMS-IX IPv6 traffic mainly consisted of file sharing through the free AMS-IX based IPv6 news servers. And a PAM paper earlier this year found both minuscule levels of IPv6 traffic in a tier1 network and confirmed that registry allocations provide a poor indicator of IPv6 usage. As a side note, the PAM paper also found that the small amount of tier1 IPv6 traffic consisted mainly of DNS and ICMP (i.e. test traffic and not real IPv6 usage).

So in August of 2008 real IPv6 Internet traffic was mostly non-existent.

And then things changed…
The above graph shows IPv6 traffic (Teredo and 6to4) as a normalized weighted average percentage of all Internet traffic between July 2007 and July 2009. In July of 2007, IPv6 represented less than 0.002% of Internet traffic. Beginning in August of 2008, tunneled IPv6 traffic begin to grow dramatically followed by an abrupt and even larger jump in April of 2009 (the E. Karpilovsky et al. PAM paper also observed this first 2008 jump in traffic but did not speculate as to the causality).

What happened?

This stark August 19, 2008 warning to the NANOG mailing list by Nathan Ward provides a strong clue:

Sit up and pay attention, even if you don't now run IPv6, or even if you don't ever intend to run IPv6.
Your off-net bandwidth is going to increase, unless you put some relays in.
As a friend of mine just said to me: "Welcome to your v6-enabled transit network, whether you like it or not ;-)".
uTorrent 1.8 is out, as of Aug 9.

Nathan was mostly right. While uTorrent never generated the expected flood of new traffic (at least by IPv4 standards), the introduction of IPv6 P2P succeeded where most previous IPv6 inducement efforts had failed (i.e. liberal peering, high quality IPv6 porn, IPv6 ASCII animation of Star Wars, etc.). In the space of ten months uTorrent helped drive IPv6 traffic from .002% to .03% of all Internet traffic (a dramatic 15x jump).

But the more interesting (and from an infrastructure perspective, far more important) IPv6 traffic increase came on April 21, 2009 with Hurricane Electric’s turn up of a global anycast’ed Teredo relay service. Hurricane Electric enabled 14 Teredo relays in Seattle, Fremont, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Toronto, New York, Ashburn, Miami, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Hong Kong.

More details of Hurricane Electric’s infrastructure is available in this May 2009 LACNIC presentation.

Historically, IPv6 connectivity across the Internet has been, well, abysmal. Inefficient routing, multiple IPv6 tunnel encapsulations and overall lack of coordination between Teredo and 6to4 relay providers added latency, loss and played havoc with jitter (i.e. mangling VoIP). Frequently, a traceroute between two providers at the same exchange could traverse multiple countries or continents en route. For added background, see this 2009 Google IPv6 Conference presentation, this 2008 RIPE study and related 2007 study.

By all accounts, Hurricane Electric’s Teredo service significantly improved the IPv6 goodput for the average Internet end user over night. In particular, Microsoft Windows users got a big boost. Though Windows has shipped with a Teredo client (on by default) since XP, Microsoft never provided a public relay service. teredo.ipv6.microsoft.com now uses Hurricane’s 6to4 relays. And the dramatic improvement in Teredo and 6to4 relays seems to have lead to a corresponding jump in IPv6 traffic.

This is good news.

Finally, in the below graph, you can see the impact of both uTorrent and Hurricane’s relay deployment by region. We again show IPv6 tunneled traffic as a weighted normalized percentage of all Internet traffic. The most important take away is that the IPv6 growth after August 2008 is a global phenomena (with Asia at the forefront follow by Europe).
We look forward to revisiting IPv6 traffic in another year as relays improve, meaningful IPv6 content becomes available and more providers offer native IPv6 service.

Editor’s Note: This blog is the fourth in a series of weekly posts leading up to the publication of the joint University of Michigan, Merit Network and Arbor Networks “2009 Internet Observatory Report”. The full technical report goes into detail on the evolving Internet topology, commercial ecosystem and traffic patterns — available this October. Next week: “How Big is Google?”


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The End is Near, but is IPv6?

By: Craig Labovitz -

As of this blog posting, exactly 900 days remain until the end of the Internet, or at least the exhaustion of IPv4 registry allocations. And you don’t have to take my word for it, even the normally staid London Times and Fox News proclaimed, “Internet meltdown… The world is heading for a digital doomsday”.

Heady stuff.

Of course, IPv6 (or the new IPv4) was supposed to take care of all of this — billions of billions of new IP addresses, hardened security built in from the start, and an elegant new architecture to replace all of IPv4’s hacks.

So what happened to IPv6?

Well, it has been a strange, long year…

The year began with fears over the “end of the Internet” (due to lack of IPv6 adoption) and ends this month with renewed IPv6 enthusiasm centered around the Olympics and a successful US government IPv6 mandate. In between these two extremes of IPv6 despair and enthusiasm, IPv6 generated a surge of news coverage (see graph below). At its peak this past June, print media around the world published nearly 3,000 articles a month on IPv6 (almost twice as much as the comparatively uninteresting IPv4).

Much of the recent coverage has focused on the summer Olympics this week. Chinese organizers have planned the summer Olympics game as a showcase for IPv6 technology. From a recent article, “… IPv6 will herald the arrival of China as a major center for technological and scientific advancement in a way that will overshadow its own unbeatable record as a world leader…”. Through China’s Next Generation Internet (CNGI) initiative, China has reportedly spent several billion dollars making sure they got a national IPv6 backbone right.

In the US, the recent government deadline for IPv6 compliance also generated a flurry of IPv6 activity: All major vendors publicly declared their IPv6 readiness. Popular press and industry magazines filed thousands of stories on IPv6. US Federal Departments officially declared success and the Internet IPv6-ready this past June 30th.

So has imminent collapse of the Internet has been avoided?

Is the Internet moving full steam ahead towards IPv6?


The truth is that as an industry we don’t have a good measure on the relative adoption success of IPv6 with respect to Internet traffic.

No idea really.

We do have some anecdotal measurements on IPv6 registry allocation and BGP announcements. But, very little data on actual IPv6 usage.

As our small effort to fill this gap, we spent much of the last year looking for IPv6 traffic in the Internet. In cooperation with the University of Michigan and close to 100 Internet providers, we leveraged commercial traffic probes across the world to measure inter-domain IPv6 traffic in the Internet. We believe this is the largest study of IPv6 and Internet traffic in general to date (by several orders of magnitude).

Our dataset covered 87 ISPs including one quarter of the tier1 ISPs and a sizable percentage of the regional / PTT providers in North America and EMEA. In all, we monitored 2,389 peering and backbone routers, 278,268 customer and peering interfaces, and an aggregate 15 exabytes of Internet inter-domain traffic at an average daily rate of 4 terabits per second (we spoke about some of this measurement infrastructure at a recent NANOG). We believe this gave us a pretty good view of overall IPv6 traffic trends in the Internet.

You can view the full technical report at http://www.arbornetworks.com/IPv6research.

What did we find?

Not much. In fact, less than not much — very, very little.

The below shows the percentage of IPv6, both native and tunneled, as a percentage of all Internet traffic. At its peak, IPv6 represented less than one hundredth of 1% of Internet traffic. This is somewhat equivalent to the allowed parts of contaminants in drinking water (my household water comes from the Detroit river).

IPv6 Traffic Graphed as Percentage of IPv4

Now the above graph may not be completely fair since many of the ISPs do not have infrastructure to monitor native IPv6 (more about this later). But our numbers seem to agree with data from a variety of other sources on IPv6 adoption rates.

Some related IPv6 statistics:

Percentage of ASN with IPv6 BGP announcements 3%
Percentage of Internet2 sites with passing IPv6 grade 1%
Percentage of Alexa Top 500 websites using IPv6 0.4%
IPv6 DNS queries as percentage of IPv4 DNS load 0.2%
IPv6 as a percentage of all Internet traffic 0.002%

We are not the first to raise concern over the small amount of IPv6 traffic (see Geoff’s slides last month) — just the first to have Internet wide IPv6 traffic usage measurements.

And the lack of IPv6 traffic is not for lack of trying. Many organizations and individuals offer a range of lures to encourage IPv6 adoption. For example, the next generation research and education backbone in the US, Internet2, offers free transit for IPv6 traffic. And unlike IPv4, many large ISPs have very liberal IPv6 peering policies.

The single greatest lure? For ISPs or large multi-homed enterprises struggling to justify just one more tiny, little IPv4 /16 allocation, the minimum IPv6 allocation is /32 or a staggering 2^64 larger than the entire IPv4 Internet today.

On the less pragmatic side, other IPv6 proponents offer free high quality IPv6 porn. Others yet provide ASCII animation of Star Wars movies (IPv4 users get only black & white — make sure you watch the “Return of the Jedi” version). And, of course, the dancing turtle. Several web sites provide more listings of exotic IPv6 only Internet content.

But none of these efforts have been enough to generate any significant IPv6 traffic.

So, why so little IPv6 traffic?

Well, the biggest issue is money. Specifically, the department of commerce estimates it will cost $25 billion for ISPs to upgrade to native IPv6.

And this massive expense comes without the lure of additional revenue since IPv6 offers diminishingly few incentives nor new competitive features to attract or upsell customers. In many ways, IPv6 in the United States is much like the high definition television federal mandate (but without the mandate or the really crisp looking football games).

The harsh logic of the Metcalfe Effect also applies. With so few web sites and end users currently supporting IPv6, the incremental value to any single new IPv6 end site is limited. For many end users, v6 is an IP version all dressed up but with nowhere to go.

The third major issue is technical. While most vendors passed the OMB IPv6 requirements, it kind of depends on what you mean by “IPv6″ and “requirement”.

For example, some backbone routers “support” IPv6 forwarding, but not in hardware (at least not at line rate). Or IPv6 “support” does not include ACLs nor other critical security features. An ICANN survey of security vendors found that less than one in three commercial firewalls support IPv6.

Maybe you want an IPv6 MPLS VPN backbone? Sorry, not supported.

And even if your router supports IPv6, you might not be able to test or monitor it. Few vendors offer complete IPv6 SNMP / MIB support and even fewer support IPv6 Flow export (in fairness, V9 flow support is included on many Cisco cards today and Juniper has announced IPFIX support sometime in the next year). We blogged about many of these deployment issue earlier this year and Randy gave a presentation on the topic at a recent NANOG. The CAIDA and ARIN IPv6 Survey also has a nice summary on market / business forces limiting ISP IPv6 adoption.

Perhaps the biggest problem is that IPv4 works. And works well.

While IPv4 addresses are still relatively plentiful and cheap, ISPs and end customers have few incentives to migrate to IPv6. Some recent research even suggests IPv4 addresses may be more plentiful than previously believed. This tech report found that less than 4% of allocated addresses are actually occupied by visible end hosts. The authors concluded that most Internet space is likely, in fact, unused (though allocated).

All of this lack of IPv6 adoption has lead to quite a bit of hand wringing in the ISP technical community. While not declaring IPv6 a failure, discussions do wander into questions about “premature extinction of IPv6″ or whether “IPv6 is an exercise in futility”.

Imminent Collapse

Predicting the imminent collapses of the Internet has a long and storied history over the last twenty years. But despite all of these predictions, the Internet has survived. Sure we crashed a few routers, announced some bogus routes, and dropped a few bits here and there. But the Internet survived — even grew a bit and gained some new users. I saw Bob Metcalfe eat a tie.

And the Internet will undoubtedly change and evolve past the impending IPv4 exhaustion.

But how?

Well, the questions is more about market forces than technology. IPv4 address allocations already have a minimal cost ($18,000 for ARIN large allocation). And growing registry management justification requirements and shrinking allocation size have steadily increased the overall cost of address space to ISPs over the last ten years. During the heady Internet technology bubble days, several companies made acquisitions in significant part based on the valuation of large legacy IP allocations.

Many think the price of IPv4 and scarcity will lead to open or if not sanctioned, black markets for address space. And debates continue whether an open market for IPv4 would be good or bad thing for Internet policy. Personally, I think an IPv4 market is inevitable.

The Future of IPv6

It is now clear the original optimistic IPv6 deployment plans have failed.

While the end of the Internet is not near, neither is IPv6. At the current rate of adoption, we are a decade or more away from pervasive adoption of dual stack support for IPv6. As Alain correctly notes in a recent IETF draft, “The IANA free pool of IPv4 addresses will be depleted soon, way before any significant IPv6 deployment will have occurred”.

So IPv6 adoption will take far longer and will look far different than most of us expected back in 1994 when the IAB announced the selection of IPv6. Clearly things need to change, including IETF and vendor exploration of other technologies to facilitate IPv6 adoption such as better NAT interoperability or lighter weight dual stack.

Number of IPv6 News Articles per Month

Still, despite some of the rather anemic IPv6 traffic statistics above, IPv6 is growing. The graph above shows the number of print media articles per month mentioning IPv6 and IPv4 in the first 30 words (source MetaNews). Note that IPv6 is running almost two to one against IPv4. If judged purely by public interest, IPv6 is a winning (by comparison, DNSSEC averages only 50 articles per month and barely peaked at 150 during the DNS crisis. BGPSEC fared even worse).

The below graph shows the aggregate average daily IPv6 (tunneled and native) traffic across 87 ISPs over the last year. Since July 2007, IPv6 traffic has grown by nearly a factor of 5 to an average of 100 Mbps per day. BGP tables show an even larger proportional growth. Though not a landslide of adoption, it is still something.

While it is easy to poke fun at predictions of the “Imminent Collapse of the Internet”, the eventual exhaustion of IPv4 allocations is real. We need to do something. And IPv6 is our best bet.

Aggregate IPv6 Traffic Internet Wide

So, I’ll end with my top four predictions on IPv6 growth:

  1. Islands are beautiful too.
    IPv6 may succeed in the same way multicast failed. And by multicast failing, I really mean multicast succeeded. Though multicast never evolved a business model to justify its originally envisioned Internet wide inter-domain deployment, multicast has been astonishingly successful within the enterprise and ISP service infrastructure. Almost all Fortune 500 enterprises use multicast in some form to broadcast company video or update applications. Similarly, multicast is at the core of most ISP IPTV infrastructure.Like multicast, we are seeing rapid adoption of IPv6 within consumer, IPTV and 3G / 4G mobile providers for management of their internal infrastructure. You can pick your favorite market driver: 3G / 4G Mobile IP, Digital Radio, RFID, Control Networks, etc. But the numbers for globally unique end devices is staggering no matter which trend you choose.

    For example, Comcast has migrated all of their internal control network to IPv6 with plans to manage 100 million cable modems.

    Various estimates place number of network devices that will need to be managed at 12 billion by 2012. Note that these devices may not need global visibility, but providers will need to at least internally provision and manage (and RFC1918 space is not a reasonable option).

  2. Market trumps technology. And politics trumps markets.
    The future of the Internet is not fixed line devices. Nor is it users in the United States.The future of the Internet is likely both mobile devices and emerging Internet countries like China which reportedly surpassed the number of US web users at 253 million last month.While politics and government mandates do not always drive technology (see GOSIP or metric system in the United States), sometimes they do (see metric system in United Kingdom).

    Throughout the world, government mandates are spurring IPv6 adoption. China’s CNGI initiative and billions in spending uses IPv6 as the centerpiece. Similarly, Japan, Korea all have major IPv6 initiatives. The EU called for mass migration to IPv6 by 2010.

    The important bit to realize about governmental focus on IPv6 is that it is not about technology nor is it even really about IPv6. Many governments view IPv6 through the prism of politics. These countries, rightly or wrongly, view ICANN and the large US centric legacy IPv4 allocations as instruments of US control. For China, Japan and many EU nations, IPv6 is really about no less than who will control the future of the Internet.

  3. IPv6 has already succeed.
    You can now get native IPv6 from many providers, including Verizon, Tata (formerly VSNL/Teleglobe), Global Crossing and others. Over half of surveyed providers say they have plans to roll out commercial IPv6 offerings in the next year. As more vendors integrate IPv6 into their products lines, the ISP IPv6 tax has correspondingly dropped. For many, IPv6 comes with latest refresh of hardware which ISPs generally amortize over 5-8 year periods. While it will be many years before the millions of embedded end devices support IPv6, your backbone routers likely already do.Most encouraging of all, there is finally the beginning of real IPv6 content. Or at least you can now use IPv6 to search content (as long as the indexed content is IPv4). At the Philadelphia IETF this year, Google announced support for production quality IPv6 search at ipv6.google.com.

  5. And the final reason IPv6 will succeed?
    No one has the stomach to spend another twenty years replacing IPv6 with something else.

Personally though, I just configured our local router for IPv6 so I can watch Michael Phelps (former University of Michigan athlete) win eight golds this week at http://2001:252:0:1::2008:6.

Full disclosure — I worked on the failed TUBA counter-proposal to IPv6 and still harbor a grudge.