Facebook: The Internet did not break

World's largest social network reports no problems on World IPv6 Day

With only a few hours left to go on World IPv6 Day, Facebook, the world's largest social network, reported that it hasn't had any trouble.

The 24-hour worldwide test of the Internet's new communications protocol hasn't caused any slowdowns or trouble for Facebook, according to Donn Lee, a Facebook senior network engineer who helped come up with the plan for World IPv6 Day.

"The Internet did not break," said Lee, laughing. "As we expected, and as we'd hoped for, it was completely a non-event by technical standards ... There is some relief because we had never done it at this scale before."

The test run of IPV6 started at 8 p.m. EDT Tuesday. Most of the approximately 400 companies participating in the test flipped the switch at the same time, bringing dual stacking online. That means the networks were running both IPv4 and IPv6, so if a computer was able to connect with the network on IPv6 it would. If it couldn't, however, it could fall back and connect via IPv4.

"When all the participants turned it on... it was very encouraging," said Lee, who worked with a handful of teammates since the fall to prepare Facebook's network ready for the test. "I talked to folks who have call centers and they said they had totally unchanged volume for any normal day. We have not noticed any difference in user tickets or stats that we track on folks using the site."

Lee noted that 1 million of Facebook's 500 million to 600 million users connected to the social network via IPv6 on Wednesday.

He also said he's not yet clear how many users experienced trouble getting on the site Wednesday, but suspects it was around 0.03%.

Now that the test run is nearly over, Lee can take a deep breath and then begin analyzing all the data that was collected during the test.

IPV4, the Internet's main communications protocol, was quickly running out of unique IP addresses for all the computers, smartphones and other devices that need to be connected to the Internet. The upgrade to IPv6 is expected to provide 85 octillion (8.5 times 1028) times more addresses than IPv4.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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