IPv6 is the new normal for the Internet. So claims the Internet Society (ISOC) as it sums up the early results of its World IPv6 Launch Day held on Wednesday.
World IPv6 Launch Day was a kick-off event for more than 60 access network providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner Cable, and 3,000 websites -- including Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Bing -- to begin permanently supporting IPv6 for their customers. Additionally, five home router vendors including Cisco and D-Link are now shipping home routers with IPv6 turned on by default.
"The Internet functions with regular, business operations on IPv6. Participating websites have turned IPv6 on for good, access providers already have significant IPv6 traffic on their networks, and equipment manufacturers are shipping with IPv6 on by default," said Leslie Daigle, chief Internet technology officer of ISOC, at a press conference held Thursday. "IPv6 is the new normal."
Daigle urged CIOs and other enterprise IT professionals to accelerate their plans for migrating corporate websites, networks and applications to IPv6.
"For organizations, it's time to accelerate your IPv6 plans. If you don't already have plans, you are behind," Daigle said, adding that "IPv6 is proven ready for business."
IPv6 is an upgrade to the Internet's main communications protocol, known as IPv4. IPv6 is needed because IPv4 is running out of addresses. However, IPv6 is not backward-compatible with IPv4. So network operators must run the two protocols side-by-side in what's called dual-stack mode or translate between them, which adds cost and latency to their operations. Because of these complications, IPv6 has suffered from a slow adoption curve. That's why Internet policymakers are promoting IPv6 through events such as World IPv6 Launch Day.
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One enterprise that aggressively adopted the new protocol for World IPv6 Launch Day is Cisco, which is supporting IPv6 on its main website -- www.cisco.com -- as well as its www.home.cisco.com and www.webex.com sites.
"The majority of our revenue is booked through the Cisco.com website, and 80% of our technical cases are solved through it," explained Cisco Fellow Mark Townsley. "It was a big commitment by us to run this over IPv6."
Cisco also demonstrated a beta version of its WebEx application that was enabled for IPv6 at the press conference. Townsley said Cisco would ship an IPv6-enabled version of WebEx before Sept. 30, when U.S. federal agencies are required to support IPv6 on their websites to meet an Obama administration mandate.
World IPv6 Launch Day participants reported no major technical glitches or security incidents as they deployed IPv6 across their products, services and content.
Google resolved what it called "minor issues" with its advertising partners as it launched AdSense and content ads with IPv6. Google also said it ran into problems with IPv6 support in its Street View service, and it reported that it was not serving up what are called Quad-A records for IPv6 to a few networks -- primarily in Japan -- that were having problems with IPv6 service.
"Overall, it's been a tremendous success," said Erik Kline, IPv6 software engineer at Google.
Kline noted that Google saw IPv6 adoption increase 150% in the last year, in addition to continued growth with IPv4. "At this rate, 50% of users will have IPv6 in about six years, hopefully sooner as deployment accelerates," he added.
John Brzozowski, distinguished engineer and chief IPv6 architect for Comcast, echoed the view that Comcast saw no major issues with IPv6 on Wednesday. "Call center volumes were at par for this time of the year or below," he said. "It was a seamless event."
Internet pioneer and Google IPv6 evangelist Vint Cerf urged businesses to begin adopting IPv6 immediately.
"There are no more excuses," Cerf said. "You have to be able to run both IPv4 and IPv6 all the time, anytime, because this is not going to be turned off. For any ISP and any edge provider, if you are not capable of running IPv6, you are not being noticed. ... Get going. Get IPv6 running."
Here are a few interesting statistics revealed at the World IPv6 Launch Day press conference:
-- Comcast saw IPv6 traffic rise to represent 0.5% of its network traffic and 1% of the traffic on its Xfinity websites. Comcast has enabled one-third of its network with dual-stack IPv6 and IPv4 service, and 1.5% of its customers are using IPv6.
-- Facebook said 27 million users have IPv6 in their homes and are accessing the social media site over the new protocol, representing more than three times the number of IPv6 users it saw during a 24-hour test of IPv6 a year ago.
-- Akamai is serving 100 times more IPv6 traffic than it did a year ago during the 24-hour IPv6 trial. Among Akamai's IPv6 users are 21 U.S. government agencies.
-- AT&T said it has enabled 6.7% of its consumer broadband customers -- that's more than 1 million customers -- with IPv6 using 6rd, a transition mechanism popularized by the French ISP Free.