IPv6 traffic surges at launch of World IPv6 Day

Early data shows doubling of IPv6 traffic, although 'not a super dramatic increase'

A surge of IPv6-based Web traffic began flowing over the Internet last night when World IPv6 Day began, according to data gathered by Arbor Networks.

Arbor released some initial findings at 9 a.m. EDT that showed a sharp rise in HTTP traffic as more than 400 Web sites including Google, Facebook and Yahoo began supporting IPv6 in production mode as part of the ongoing World IPv6 Day experiment.

IPv6, which features an expanded addressing scheme, is an upgrade to the Internet's main communications protocol known as IPv4. World IPv6 Day is a 24-hour trial of the new Internet standard that is being sponsored by the Internet Society.

BACKGROUND: Large-scale IPv6 trial set for June 8

"So far, so good is the overall observation," says Rob Malan, co-founder and CTO of Arbor Networks. "Nothing appears to be totally broken, although there is not a super dramatic increase in IPv6 traffic."

Malan says he has seen no overt security incidents yet, nor has he observed larger-than-expected connectivity problems.

Malan says carriers hoped to see a surge in IPv6-based Web traffic during this experiment, and it is a sign that the event is successful so far.

"When Google, Yahoo and the others turned on their Quad A [IPv6-based] DNS records, the Web traffic followed," Malan says. "You would expect that once the content is available, it gets consumed. Before there wasn't much IPv6 content out there, so people were doing peer-to-peer or esoteric things like file transfers over IPv6. Now that we have real content live on the IPv6 network, we're seeing the Web protocols taking over."

Arbor estimates that IPv6 traffic has doubled as a percentage of overall Internet traffic, but IPv6 is still miniscule when compared to the more than 99.5% of all Internet traffic flowing over IPv4. Arbor bases its measurements on data gathered from the networks operated by six carriers worldwide.

Malan says he has looked at traffic data from two other network operators in Europe, and their IPv6 traffic has roughly doubled, too. "It's pretty safe to say that it's doubled, but these are still very small numbers," he adds.

BY THE NUMBERS: Lack of IPv6 traffic stats makes judging progress difficult

One good sign is that native IPv6 traffic appears to be rising faster than tunneled traffic during the IPv6 experiment, Arbor says.

"For the first two or three hours after World IPv6 Day began, the native IPv6 traffic went from 5% of the overall IPv6 traffic to plateau at around 30% to 35% of all IPv6 traffic," Malan says. `"Native IPv6 traffic going up is a good sign."

Malan says it's still too early to understand all of the IPv6 traffic patterns that are occurring during the World IPv6 Day experiment.

"We're so early into this. None of us have had the chance to dig into the data in a meaningful fashion," he says. "One of the things we want to find out is how many clients are enabled right now for IPv6 content."

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