Networking companies and Internet service providers will be scrutinizing what happens to the Internet on World IPv6 Day, but rank and file netizens shouldn't notice a thing.
June 8 will be the first-ever World IPv6 Day, when
participating Internet service providers, content management networks and Web
companies will switch to IPv6 networks for 24 hours in the world's first stress
test of the next-generation networking protocol.
More than 200 companies, including Google, Yahoo and Facebook,
are participating, according to the Internet Society.
If nothing crashes and burns spectacularly, then most people
online won't even notice anything different. Some companies may see only a
slight hiccup or lose some connections due to network incompatibilities, but
what's likely to happen is that if IPv6 isn't working, most users will
automatically failover to IPv4, which will continue humming along quietly,
business as usual.
"It's a little strange that we are all excited," about World
IPv6 Day, Asaf Greiner, the vice president of products at Commtouch.
That said, Internet service providers and governments will
be paying close attention to what happens during World IPv6 Day, Greiner said.
As more companies start moving their applications and services to IPv6, they
will need support from their ISPs, so it's important the ISPs make the shift
and make sure their IPv6 deployments are successful. The United States
government has also mandated that all federal agencies be ready for IPv6 by the
end of next year. Many federal agencies, including the United States Postal
Service and Department of Treasury, are listed as participating in the
IPv6 is not a "one-day" thing, but rather an ongoing process
that companies have been working on for almost 13 years and something they will
continue working on for at least a decade, Greiner said. IPv4 will continue to
co-exist with IPv6 as it has for the past decade and will not go away anytime
soon because it will be a very complicated process to shut down IPv4 networks
As long as there is at least one user, one customer who is
using IPv4, the company will not shut it down, according to Greiner. It's very
much like the scenario with Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6 Web browser.
Organizations know it's obsolete and that it has security and performance issues,
but as long as there is a business need, they will continue using IE6. The same
policy will apply to IPv4 networks down the road, Greiner said.
The IPv6 migration is an eventual necessity, because there
aren't a lot of unused addresses left. The pools of unassigned IPv4 addresses
expired in February, and in April, the Asia Pacific region ran out of its
allocation, except for a small reserve for start-up companies. ARIN (American
Registry for Internet Numbers), which assigns addresses to North American
network operators, said it will deplete its supply of IPv4 addresses this fall.
Organizations have been very slow about migrating to IPv6.
In a recent Computing Technology Industry Association survey, 23 percent of
organizations have upgraded, 30 percent just did some research and another 30
percent did absolutely nothing about IPv6.
There are a number of reasons for that, such as not wanting
to be the first to try out a new technology. Many service providers are staying
away from IPv6 and are waiting to hear about the mistakes and experiences of
larger companies and ISPs, Greiner said. Most companies will also wait until
there is more "activity" available on IPv6 before even thinking about switching
their network and servers.
Even though the conversion to IPv6 is expected to take
decades, there are estimates that show that for some organizations, not
converting their public-facing applications to IPv6 may result in actual
revenue losses as early as January 2012, according to CompTIA.
Greiner still doesn't see a rush, noting that the timing
isn't critical. "If someone doesn't move to IPv6 in the next year, the sky is
not going to fall," Greiner said.