The number of networks supporting the new IPv6 protocol has exploded this year, thanks to a handful of large domain registrars, according to a recent Internet "census."
A little more than 25 percent of the Internet zones under .com, .net and .org surveyed support IPv6, compared with a mere 1.27 percent a year ago, according to an IPv6 census released Nov. 21. The survey, sponsored by Infoblox, found that a handful of registrars are responsible for the growth in IPv6 traffic.
The top three countries that have adopted IPv6 are France, the United States and the Czech Republic. The growth in France and Czech Republic was driven by three registrars alone, according to Cricket Liu, general manager of the Infoblox IPv6 Center of Excellence.
The significant increase is directly attributed to Go Daddy, which claims to be the world's largest domain registrar. About 80 percent of active IPv6 addresses in the survey are hosted by Go Daddy, the survey found. If Go Daddy's domains were removed from the survey, the percentage of zones supporting IPv6 would plunge to 3 percent. While that figure is still double what it was last year, Go Daddy is the clear growth driver, Liu told eWEEK.
Liu called the results "beyond" any of his expectations. "We didn't recognize that any one registrar could have that much impact," Liu said.
Liu speculated that Go Daddy had likely decided to support IPv6 for its zones to gain competitive advantage over other registrars. Other organizations will likely respond and match Go Daddy's capabilities, which could drive next year's survey results closer to 50 percent IPv6 support, Liu said.
IPv6 is the next-generation Internet protocol designed to be a successor for the current system, known as IPv4, to determine the numeric addresses for each system. Demand for Internet addresses has far outstripped supply thanks to the explosion of mobile devices, smart devices and appliances that can access the Internet. IPv4 can support 4.3 billion IPv4 addresses, and the last available blocks were assigned to the various regional authorities that assign IP addresses to organizations in February 2011. Industry observers expect the Asia-Pacific region, North America and Europe to run out of IPv4 addresses within the next few months.
Registrars adding IPv6 offerings is good news for customers looking to adopt the next-generation protocol because it is all taken care of for them and would require little to no work on their part, Liu said. Customers can use IPv6 as one of the metrics to evaluate registrars, and switch providers if their existing one doesn't have plans to offer the capability any time soon, according to Liu.
The census scanned .com, .org and .net domains to find out which supported IPv6 and discovered that the majority of IPv6 nodes are not Web and email servers. Since many registrars run Web and mail servers for their customers, it is likely that this number will increase over the next years as more registrars come on board the IPv6 bandwagon, Liu said.
The World IPv6 Day in June was a one-day test in which participating organizations around the world switched their networks by default to IPv6 for a 24-hour period. Intended as a global event to help organizations iron out any glitches with their deployment, it was a success in the sense that there were no major crashes or issues reported. Another World IPv6 Week is being planned for June 2012 to encourage organizations to continue investing in IPv6 and to keep the networks switched on for a longer period of time.
The longer test period will also provide useful data for analysis, Liu said.