Today is World IPv6 day and many websites have been turning on IPv6 for a day to identify any problems that may arise out of a ‘dual stack’ IPv4-and-IPv6 configuration. There is a reported 0.05% of Internet users who may find that some websites including Facebook and Google will not be available to them today due to some flaws in old software. Part of the exercise is to confirm the scale of the problem, and highlight to those affected that change is coming.

A positive side effect of the test is the increasing talk within mainstream media about the switch to IPv6, getting the message in front of decision makers within organisations responsible for approving budgets for new investment. It is really important that they understand that IPv6 is only around the corner and start to ensure that their companies are ready.

However, IPv6 is not just about equipment but also about training. Enabling IPv6 on your servers and routers can be quite dangerous if your staff don’t understand how it works. For example, enabling IPv6 on a server with a number of open services could open it to security risks if it doesn’t provide the same level of firewalling as is in place for IPv4. Similarly, have you checked that your monitoring systems are IPv6 enabled?

Website operators need to ensure that their software is also capable of supporting IPv6–Global network operator Level(3) Communications for example presents a “404 Not found” error message if a user visits their site over IPv6 whilst the IPv4 website is operating normally:

It would be easy to criticise people for making mistakes in implementing IPv6, but at least they are doing something about it. Apart from the BBC, most media organisations writing about IPv6 appear not to be taking part in the trial, despite the support of large companies such as Google, Facebook and Akamai, and many more smaller companies.

The IPv6 statistics provided by Akamai illustrate the very low support for IPv6 so the next challenge will very much be about the access network. At present, only a small number of niche broadband ISPsĀ are supporting IPv6. One of those, AAISP, is giving out IPv6-enabled routers as standard in an effort to push IPv6 to as many users as possible, and most will be able to use it without even knowing about it. We are starting to see mainstream broadband router manufacturers differentiate themselves by offering IPv6 support which will no doubt drive wider support. At present it is mainly the smaller operators who support IPv6, so what we need now is for one of the major UK broadband providers such as Virgin Media, BT, etc. to get on the bandwagon after which the rest of the industry will follow.

2 Responses

  1. eclecticsol on 20 Jun 2011

    The most revealing point is that no-one has found it necessary to comment in over a week. I used to educate people on Internet Protocols and talked about the imminence of IPv6 from 1996 to 2001. I had various IPv6 tunnel connections from 2002 to 2008 and used IPv6 stacks in Linux, Win 2000 and XP.

    But my ISP wasn’t interested in native IPv6 and none of the consumer router products I investigated had support. So maybe after 20years and final IPv4 exhaustion, it may happen, but NAT on NAT is more likely to continue!

    • AussieBunyip on 19 Jul 2011

      NAT on NAT will be used by the smaller ISP’s however I feel the larger and more Business orianted ISP’s will be heading for Native IPv6.

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