World IPv6 Day Ends, Everyone Goes Back to IPv4

After a successful day of testing out IPv6, most organizations have gone back to IPv4, business as usual.

World IPv6 Day is over, and the Internet didn't collapse, the sky didn't fall, and hackers didn't cause chaos. Most users probably didn't notice a thing and that's exactly the outcome network administrators and security professionals wanted.

For 24 hours, more than 400 organizations, including Internet service providers, businesses, educational institutions and government agencies, enabled the next generation IPv6 standard on their main Websites. Organized by the Internet Society, the goal for the June 8 experiment was to educate businesses about IPv6 and the need to migrate over to the new protocol.

Participants also got the opportunity to gather data on a global scale, as well. Several of the companies have said they will be reaching out to other organizations to analyze collected data and share insights.

But World IPv6 Day was an exercise for organizations that had already implemented the network hardware and software to make the switch to the new Web protocol. The test did not reveal how many enterprises including small and midsize companies that are nowhere near ready to make the transition.

"The first global test of IPv6 passed without incident," wrote Google's Lorenzo Colitti on the official Google blog. Google saw about 65 percent more IPv6 traffic than usual and saw no significant issues, according to Colitti.

Networking company Neustar has been tracking DNS queries from businesses utilizing IPv6 and noticed an 81 percent increase in IPv6 usage from May 2 to June 8, going from 43.47 million queries to 78.7 million. The most significant jump happened between May 18 and May 27, when traffic spiked up 33 percent, and a smaller 10 percent jump between June 2 and June 7, according to Neustar's numbers.

Interestingly, there were about 300,000 fewer queries on June 8 than on June 7. The slight dip is most likely due to the fact that businesses were focused on getting the infrastructure up and running in the days leading up to the actual World IPv6 Day, Tom McGarry, vice president of the Advanced Technology Group at Neustar, told eWEEK. Most of the observed DNS queries on June 8 were most likely just people going around and checking nothing was broken, McGarry said.

"We saw over 1 million users reach us over IPv6," senior network engineer Donn Lee posted on the Facebook blog. Lee noted there wasn't a corresponding increase in the number of users needing assistance.

Arbor Networks monitored the IPv6 networking traffic throughout the day and noticed a modest uptick in native IPv6 data. The bulk of the current IPv6 traffic happens to be 6in4 traffic, as users rely on tunnel services from providers such as Hurricane Electric to get IPv6 connectivity. That remained the case on World IPv6 Day, but native IPv6 traffic jumped from a little over 10 percent of all IPv6 activity to a peak of about 37 percent on June 8. The biggest spike in activity occurred about 4 hours into the test, around 8pm EDT on June 7. In general, native IPv6 data ranged between 15 to 20 percent throughout the day with occasional spikes reaching 25 percent, according to Arbor Networks data.

Spikes usually corresponded to the peak evening hours of each timezone, according to Don Bowman, co-founder and CTO of networking company Sandvine.

For most observers, the bigger question was how many companies will continue supporting IPv6 Day once World IPv6 Day is over. A number of users on Twitter expressed optimism that companies who'd turned on IPv6 would decide to leave it on. The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), the regional Internet registry for North America, responded with a simple "We agree," on Twitter.

Facebook will continue to dual-stack its developer pages to handle both IPv4 and IPv6 traffic, even though the main page has gone back to IPv4, according to Lee. Other companies have also turned off IPv6 on their main sites, although many of them continue to support IPv6 versions of various pages.