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Expert to IT pros: Adopt IPv6 soon or be sorry later

In discussing World IPv6 Launch, Internet Society's tech chief says hassles, costs will go up for network operators who delay IPv6 planning, deployment

By , Network World
January 17, 2012 03:57 PM ET
Leslie Daigle

Network World - A dozen of the world's largest Internet companies -- including Facebook, Google and Comcast -- have committed to June 6, 2012, as the start date for their production deployments of IPv6, an upgrade to the Internet's main communications protocol.

MORE: Leading ISPs, websites commit to June 6 start for IPv6

The Tuesday announcement of their plans was coordinated by the Internet Society, which is organizing the World IPv6 Launch event and encouraging other ISPs and Web content providers to participate in it.

We spoke with Leslie Daigle, the Internet Society's chief information technology officer, about the significance of the World IPv6 Launch event and what enterprise IT professionals should be doing about it. Here are excerpts from our conversation:

Why is World IPv6 Launch a significant event?

It's a really significant marker in 2012 to lay down that there are real commercial IPv6 services on the content front and on the access front and in terms of the important pieces that are needed for IPv6 including content delivery networks (CDNs) and the customer premises equipment (CPE) vendors. This is not just another trial. It's not a test flight. It's turning it on for real.

But the June 6 date is more of a start date than a deadline for IPv6 deployment, isn't it?

It's a target so that by that point the participants have agreed to start their production deployments. This comes back to last year, when we had a test flight to make sure that the world could actually deal with having dual-stack IPv6 and IPv4 services for content providers. This year, it's really time to stop talking and start doing.

The goal for ISPs in this event -- to have 1% of their residential customers connected via IPv6 by June 6, 2012 -- seems minor given that 99% of their customers will still be on IPv4. Why is the bar set so low for ISPs?

If you talk to a service provider, they won't feel that it's a low bar. It's actually somewhat of a stretch goal. To get to 1%, there are a lot of actions in play in terms of making sure the network is ready and customers are set up. The 1% is a number set to drive real traffic. Content providers want to know that users will be able to reach them over IPv6.

Some major U.S. ISPs like Verizon are conspicuously absent from the list of ISPs participating in this event. Does that mean they are behind in IPv6 deployment?

No, I wouldn't read it that way at all. Really, the way to read the list of participants is that it is a group of ISPs and content providers that were willing to step up and make the statement today. We're very much looking forward to additional service providers and content providers joining up in coming weeks.

On the Web content side, some of the participating sites like Google are already supporting IPv6 at secondary sites but not on their main Web addresses. How significant of an effort will it be for them to turn IPv6 on for this event?

In any content provider company, the goal is to serve content reliably and effectively to as many users as possible. When they bring any update to their front door, they are committed to support it commercially, 24/7, for all of their customers. They don't want to play with experimental lab projects. So turning it on at the front door is signaling that IPv6 as a commercial service is ready to go forward.

What's been going on behind the scenes at websites like Google and Yahoo over the last six months since they participated in ISOC's World IPv6 Day to prepare them for World IPv6 Launch?

I think a lot of what needed to happen for them to turn on IPv6 on their main websites happened on June 8 last year. It was clear then that it was feasible to run IPv6 in a commercial way. A lot of the activity since then has been focused on making sure it was introduced into the regular operational streams for all parts of their front doors. Although there were a lot of sites that came on last June and stayed on last June.

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