How far has the Internet come with IPv6 Adoption?

How far has the Internet come with IPv6 Adoption?

Summary: Nothing like far enough according to Arbor Networks' study.

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This won't come as any surprise to anyone in the network business, but Arbor Networks has just published a study of "native IPv6 traffic volumes across multiple large carriers" and found "only a small fraction of the Internet has adopted IPv6. " We are so hosed.

Oh, no one's going to try to Google "Lady Gaga" tomorrow and find that her YouTube videos are gone. But, if you're in charge of a business, you're eventually going to need more Internet addresses and the IPv4 address cupboard is bare. Indeed, the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), which is in charge of all Asian Internet addresses, is now down to its last IPv4 crumbs.

The situation isn't a lot better in North America. The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) tells me that, "ARIN has seen a steady, if not, slight decline in the number of IPv4 request since IANA reached depletion of their IPv4 pool in early February 2011. However, ARIN has seen a substantial increase in the number of IPv6 requests since that same time. Currently, ARIN has over 5 /8s of IPv4 address and expects this will last through most of this year and possibly into next year."

When things get really tight with IPv4 addresses, which at this rate will be in the late fall of 2011, ARIN may start restricting IP [Internet Protocol] allocations. In the meantime, you can try to buy IPv4 addresses, but that's a short term solution. The bottom line is we're running out of IPv4 addresses and we must start switching over.

Unfortunately, as Arbor Network's Chief Scientist Craig Labovitz points out, "Despite fifteen years of IPv6 standards development, vendor releases and advocacy, only a small fraction of the Internet has adopted IPv6. The slow rate of IPv6 adoption stems from equal parts of technical / design hurdles, lack of economic incentives and general dearth of IPv6 content."

Indeed, "During the six month study period, IPv4 inter-domain traffic grew by an average of 40-60%. In marked contrast, IPv6 (both native and tunneled) decreased by an average 12%, though the small volumes of native IPv6 more than doubled." Yes, that's right, Internet traffic is going to boom, but the next generation of IP that's required to handle this traffic has actually done down as a percentage of all Internet traffic.

Page 2: [Internet Traffic] »

Internet Traffic

Overall, IPv6 traffic is growing, but it's a tiny fraction of the whole. Indeed, it's almost just noise with a peak of only 0.25% of all net traffic. What traffic that is carried by IPv6 is largely. 61%, Peer-to-Peer (P2P) using BitTorrent and the like.

The mainstream, Ipv4-based Internet traffic is largely made up of video-20% Netflix; 12% YouTube; and 6% Flash-with the Web using 19% and BitTorrent only taking up 8%.

Arbor Network's study was based on "a small subset of ATLAS [Arbor's distributed darknet sensor network] deployments both upgraded their backbone infrastructure (routers and monitoring appliances) and enabled V9 Flow export across the majority of their network. The report analyzes native v6 traffic across six of these large providers in North America and Europe over the last six months. In all, we analyzed aggregate inter-domain traffic volumes of more than 8 Terabits per second and a total of more than 10 Exabytes over the life of the study." For further details on Arbor's methodology, see Internet Inter-Domain Traffic (PDF Link).

Of what Internet traffic is carried by IPv6, Arbor found that "the 250,000 IPv6 tunnel end points exhibit an extremely heavy tailed traffic distribution. The top five tunnel end points contribute more than 90% of all tunneled IPv6 traffic. These top end points include the Anycast address (192.88.99.1) followed by Hurricane Electric tunnel broker ranges and Microsoft's Teredo (65.55.158.118)."

Labovitz sees the upcoming "World IPv6 Day" [On June 8, 2011] as marking "a major milestone in the Internet's evolution," because it represents the first global experiment in new Internet technologies. What will happen on v6 day? Will the flood of IPv6 traffic result in network failures? Will operators and vendors discover critical bugs in network infrastructure? As an industry, we're not sure -- that is why this V6 day experiment is so crucial."

The World IPv6 Day is important. We do need to know what will break and what won't in a global test of the IPv6 Internet, but to me Arbor's research has already shown the real problem with IPv6. Companies and ISPs are still lagging way, way behind in adopting it. Regardless of what happens on June 8, I can see real network deployment and management headaches ahead in 2012 when, like it or not, ready or not, everyone is going to have to start moving to IPv6.

Related Stories:

It's official: Asia's just run out of IPv4 Addresses

Don't Panic! It's only the Internet running out of Addresses

Want to buy an Internet IPv4 address? Cheap?

Real Help for your Network's IPv6 Transition

Topics: Networking, Browser, Telcos

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26 comments
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  • RE: How far has the Internet come with IPv6 Adoption?

    Don't you mean APNIC is down to the last IPv4 crumbs?
    black_bart
    • RE: How far has the Internet come with IPv6 Adoption?

      @black_bart I sure did. Thanks for the catch. Boy, it would be nice to have editors again!

      Steven
      sjvn@...
      • readers agree

        Then maybe ZD would stop shoving made-up jibberish like "zero day" at us in headlines, and not even trying to make up an excuse for it.
        dgurney
    • RE: How far has the Internet come with IPv6 Adoption?

      @black_bart : and that is APNICs problem, not mine and not that of the USA and Canada. The problem is not that serious; if it were, it would already have been solved.
      ta1
  • RE: How far has the Internet come with IPv6 Adoption?

    the link to the 2d page is broken also
    must B intern day at zdnet
    docrabbitt@...
    • RE: How far has the Internet come with IPv6 Adoption?

      @docrabbitt@... We're having some sort of trouble with the servers. It's working now (2:30 PM Eastern U.S.)

      Steven
      sjvn@...
  • Size of graphics

    Despite having a wide screen VDU I cannot see the graphic items which illustrate the article in their entirety because they are wider than the column in which they are displayed. This is an elementary fault which I have also unfortunately seen in other ZDNet pages. Surely ZDNet has the skills to avoid such blunders.
    alfred@...
  • RE: How far has the Internet come with IPv6 Adoption?

    The article says "Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), which is in charge of all Asian Internet addresses, is now down to the last IPv6 crumbs". Shouldn't it be IPv4 crumbs?
    agantir
  • RE: How far has the Internet come with IPv6 Adoption?

    So tell us how we get from IP4 to IP6. What do we as end users do? Is this something totally under the ISP's control or can we migrate to IP6?

    How do we know if the ISP is IP6 ready? Why is there not a packet tax on ISP's who are not IP6 ready? Do we need goverment intervention to crack the whip on independent ISPs or will we be behind the rest of the world again?
    jamesm@...
    • RE: How far has the Internet come with IPv6 Adoption?

      @jamesm@... I'll be writing a lot more about all the hands-on stuff in the future. For right now, as a home user, I wouldn't start trying to make the jump. If you're a business talk to your ISP and if they don't give you good answers talk to Hurricane Electric. They're the experts.

      Steven
      sjvn@...
    • RE: How far has the Internet come with IPv6 Adoption?

      @jamesm@...

      Independent ISPs? Can you give me an example? AT&T, Comcast, and TimeWarner don't count.
      tkejlboom
    • RE: How far has the Internet come with IPv6 Adoption?

      @jamesm@...
      it is simple to support IPv6 as far as servers are concerned - register your IPv6 address at (usually) the same registrar as your IPv4 address - most modern OS's automatically generate IPv4 and IPv6 addresses and even old OS's like WinXP can turn it on. Unfortunately, it all depends on backbone support - Qwest, my ISP, does NOT support IPv6, so despite my server and my registrar supporting it (as well as my previous ISP), until they support it, I cannot serve IPv6 pages. Speaking of other bad things, Qwest still heavily uses PPPoE, a horribly inefficient protocol for Internet traffic, and even worse when converted to ATM packets (typical fiber - optimized for small packet phone conversations and horrifically inefficient for data - with PPPoE 40% or more can be overhead).
      Clewin
  • RE: How far has the Internet come with IPv6 Adoption?

    Why does no one address the real problem ..... where are the home routers that support dual-stack on the WAN port ? Until comsumers can get routers with IPV6 support, we don't move forward. The ISP's are not going to foot the bill.
    SneakerZ
    • RE: How far has the Internet come with IPv6 Adoption?

      @SneakerZ NetGear already has some. Linksys does as well, but it's not really supported so I recommend no one try it yet using their home equipment. I'll cover this in more detail soon.

      Steven
      sjvn@...
    • RE: How far has the Internet come with IPv6 Adoption?

      @SneakerZ

      Anything with DD-WRT should run IPv6. Don't know what the performance looks like, though.
      tkejlboom
    • RE: How far has the Internet come with IPv6 Adoption?

      @SneakerZ I would be careful about shelling out money for the first IPV6 routers on the market. Big technology shifts like this are noted for lots of false starts and serious re-engineering after the fact. The first attempts at consumer grade IPV6 routers could easily end up being paper weights. I remember going through this with USB. Many of the first USB products were a disaster and never worked quite right. It was so bad that a lot of people were saying USB was a failure and were vowing to stay with legacy ports. After all this procrastination, IPV6 is ripe for a similar debacle. Of course it WILL happen eventually, but a lot of initial hardware might end up obsolete over night when it does finally gain traction. At this point, all that we can do on the consumer side is wait it out.
      George Mitchell
  • It's Y2K all over again

    Yes, there is a challenge ahead of us. But we all work with good engineers and analysts. It'll work itself out as the IPv4 addresses run out. The solving has already begun. :-)
    cmollerstuen
  • RE: How far has the Internet come with IPv6 Adoption?

    Biggest problem is Hardware Vendors (cisco, sonicwall) not upgrading firmware of legacy hardware to support IPv6. I am not throwing out $1000 worth of hardware "just because".

    Second biggest problem is OS Vendors (microsoft, et al) not upgrading network services (DNS, IIS, WINS, SharePoint) on legacy OS (Win2003) to support IPv6. Again I am not throwing out $1000 worth of software "just because".
    lkujala
    • RE: How far has the Internet come with IPv6 Adoption?

      @lkujala That is, in essence, the exact "natural tech refresh" cycle that many of us IPv6 evangelists have been preaching.

      You don't need to throw out the gear right now - but when you do decide to replace it *please* ensure that the new/incoming gear is IPv6 capable (whatever capable means *to you / your network*).

      That is, if you have the time - having said that any recently acquired gear in your network now should have been subjected to the same requirement, which would put you in a much better situation ...
      trejrco_z
  • Awesome.

    The world has run out of IPv4 addresses this week according to Pacific Asia Network Information Centre (PANIC). Oh, if only... :)
    Naryan