OpenDNS Rolls Out Free DNS Service for IPv6 Traffic

OpenDNS launches a production-grade sandbox for IPv6 as a free service to encourage networking administrators to try out the next-generation Internet protocol.

Free DNS provider OpenDNS announced a free IPv6-based DNS sandbox for IT professionals interested in experimenting with the next-generation Internet technology.

The free DNS recursive service supporting IPv6 will allow Internet users to pull up IPv6 addresses by typing in the appropriate domain name, OpenDNS said May 2. DNS was invented so people won't have to remember IP addresses, and that capability becomes even more essential with the longer 128-bit IPv6 addresses, David Ulevitch, OpenDNS CEO, told eWEEK.

The free DNS service is a recursive sandbox for organizations and individuals interested in testing out IPv6, Ulevitch said. The service will hopefully make the eventual transition less intimidating. It's intended to show network administrators that it's not that hard to deploy IPv6.

"There's no financial angle. We just want to make it easier for people to use IPv6," Ulevitch said. Right now, even if computers are running IPv6, they are still "speaking IPv4," as are most major Websites, Ulevitch said. People who want to experiment with IPv6 have to encapsulate their traffic to get through DNS servers. With the new free service from OpenDNS, people who want to reach IPv6-only resources can do so.

Many users who think they are running IPv6 would fail the DNS server test if they went to sites like to test their connection, according to Ulevitch.

While IPv6-only Websites comprise a "very, very small" portion of the Internet, getting a DNS service that can communicate with those sites will help push more traffic and resources to adopt IPv6, according to Ulevitch. A recent report from Arbor Networks found that less than 1 percent of all Internet traffic was on IPv6.

A number of companies have been making an extra effort to introduce IPv6-ready products or are adding new capabilities to the existing portfolio to make the IPv6 migration less complicated and daunting. Infoblox added new features to its network management tools to support DHCP and DNS64 to handle IPv6 devices on May 3.

OpenDNS is rolling out the free service to its data centers supporting the east and west coasts of North America and Europe. Its Asian data centers will support the free service by the end of the week, and the remaining data centers will be online shortly after, according to Ulevitch.

OpenDNS is focusing the initial launch in North America because it wants to help increase the comfort level about IPv6 among North American customers. The comfort level in Asia is generally much higher as the region has been making the transition for a while now, so there's not really much "need for a sandbox" amongst Asian customers, according to Ulevitch.

OpenDNS is offering the IPv6 DNS service now to help Website operators and corporate network managers prepare for World IPv6 Day, a 24-hour test on June 8 where Internet traffic would default to IPv6, Ulevitch said.

Companies are switching to IPv6 because the Internet is running out of IPv4 addresses. The free pool of unassigned IPv4 addresses was depleted in February, and the regional Internet registry for the Asia-Pacific region announced in April that it has doled out all but the last block of 16.7 million IPv4 addresses and will begin assigning IPv6 addresses. The last block is being held in reserve for startup network operators.

OpenDNS has more than 20 million users globally, representing 1 percent of all Internet users. The free service is popular with public school systems in the United States, while corporations tend to use the paid enterprise version.

The IPv6 addresses for the OpenDNS IPv6 DNS Sandbox are 2620:0:ccc::2 and 2620:0:ccd::2.