Global IPv6 test flight geared for 8 June, 2011

Internet heavyweights Google, Facebook, Yahoo! are among a number of major Web companies in support of World IPv6 day, slated for 8 June 2011.

Read more: What the IP address meltdown means for you.

The day will involve major Web companies enabling Internet Protocol version six (IPv6) on their main websites for 24 hours in order to run a “global-scale test flight” of the replacement internet protocol to IPv4.

During the experiment, service providers will coordinate to disable IPv6 connections to any users experiencing difficulties.

Global internet registry IANA is currently estimated to allocate its last lot of IPv4 addresses to regional registries sometime in February this year - well before the date set for global cooperation on the issue.

The local registry for Australia, APNIC, is also expected to run out of addresses this year, with chief scientist, Geoff Huston, telling Computerworld Australia it may be exhausted by July or August.

According to the Internet Society, World IPv6 Day's goal is to motivate internet service providers, hardware makers, operating system vendors and Web companies to prepare their services for IPv6 to ensure a successful transition as IPv4 address space runs out this year.

“By acting together, ISPs, web site operators, OS manufacturers, and equipment vendors will be able to address problems, such as IPv6 brokenness in home networks and incomplete IPv6 interconnection,” the society’s website reads.

“Also, on the day itself, any global scalability problems can be found in a controlled fashion and resolved cooperatively.”

For its part, Google says it has been supporting IPv6 since early 2008, when it began offering search over IPv6.

“Since then we’ve brought IPv6 support to YouTube and have been helping ISPs enable Google over IPv6 by default for their users,” a post by network engineer, Lorenzo Colitti, reads.

“This is a crucial phase in the transition because while IPv6 is widely deployed in many networks, it’s never been used at such a large scale before.”

Colitti has been a strong supporter of global cooperation in this regard and has worked with the Internet Society to organise the day.

Facebook’s Donn Lee wrote in a post that testing was needed as recent studies indicated about 0.05 per cent of, or one in 2000, Internet users couldn’t reliably connect to websites that enable both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses.

“This has resulted in a classic chicken-and-egg puzzle right now: Websites don’t want to enable IPv6 because a small number of their users may have trouble connecting,” the post reads.

“At the same time, doing nothing means that ever more users will have trouble connecting to these dual-stacked websites, and ISPs will turn to less effective technical alternatives like Large Scale NAT (Network Address Translation)."

Locally, the issue of IPv6 transition has increasingly shown up on ISP radars with Internode’s CIO, Frank Falco, stating in November last year that 2011 would be crunch time for both IT departments and IPv4.

Back in late 2009 Vocus CEO, James Spencely, made similar warnings.

Policy discussion within the member organisations of APNIC has centered around distribution of the last 16 million IPv4 addresses.

Current consensus indicates APNIC will only allocate one lot of 1024 addresses to member organisations with "viable IPv6 deployment strategies", as a way of delaying address exhaustion and encouraging deployment of the newer protocol. However, some have questioned the vague criteria for what is deemed viable.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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