We are now only a day away from “World IPv6 Day,” a global initiative to push network operators and content hosts to run the new IPv6 protocol. Though I am less than overwhelmed by the amount of play it is getting, this is a useful initiative, for the reasons I outline below. But it's important to warn readers against some of the hype surrounding this initiative. So before we talk about what World IPv6 Day will do, let's spend a moment focusing on what it will not do.

* IPv6 day does not mean that the “WWW is moving from IPv4 to IPv6,” as
poorly-informed African journalist
wrote. It just means that those
who participate will take some steps, big or small, to route IPv6 into their
networks, while maintaining the old IPv4 Internet. After the day is over, most things will be the same. 

* IPv6 Day will not have any discernible impact on IPv4 address exhaustion, contrary to countless tweets I have seen today. All operators who deploy IPv6 will continue to run dual stack in some form or another, which means that they will continue to use IPv4 addresses. The economic scarcity of v4 addresses will continue to intensify, leading to ever-more Network Address Translation (NAT) and a vigorous market for address transfers. It remains to be seen whether we eventually equilibrate on a NAT Internet or manage to drop the old standard for good in a decade or so.

What's most important about IPv6 Day is that it focuses network administrators' attention on the migration and gives them an opportunity to experiment with all the inevitable glitches and incompatibilities that will happen as we go through the change. Here at Syracuse University, where we have not taken any serious steps to migrate before this week, opening up the routers to v6 will allow us to learn more about what happens. One network administrator here said “all kinds of weirdness is already happening with v6 being turned on in clients [such as Windows 7 PCs].” This is a good chance to examine the instabilities and problems that happen in a dual-stack world. Our techies will be observing closely.

In short, this is a massive consciousness-raising session. The kind of thing that should have happened 10 years ago if the migration went as it was supposed to have gone – but of course, it never could have happened 10 years ago because there was no prod like v4 address exhaustion to concentrate the mind.

1 thought on “World IPv6 day: Time to scratch that little itch

  1. Milton –
    Could you provide a reference for “The kind of thing that should have happened 10 years ago if the migration went as it was supposed to have gone”?
    While I agree that consciousness-raising about the IPv6 protocol is a important part of World IPv6 Day, one would get the feeling from reading your blog that there was some sort of “migration plan” which went awry.
    There has been an enormous amount of effort put into IPv6 to date, and the result today is that there is indeed a newer, production-grade IP protocol which is included in nearly everyone server and desktop and capable of operating in a global network with a much larger address space.
    I look forward to seeing the internetgovernance.org website and blog on IPv6, so that you can get those “inevitable glitches” out of the way soonest.

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