The path toward pervasive use of IPv6 is a long and arduous one, but it's one Hurricane Electric is intent on delivering.
Hurricane Electric is an internet backbone and colocation provider and has long been at the forefront of providing IPv6 connectivity. On August 14, the company announced that is now connected to more than 4,000 IPv6 networks, a new record high. Hurricane Electric was also the first to be connected to 1,000 IPv6 networks, an achievement the company reported in 2010.
"We've been aggressively growing our next generation IPv6 network, which has created tremendous growth in the number of networks we connect to," Mike Leber, President of Hurricane Electric, said in a statement. "This increase will provide more direct paths to more destinations, lower latency, and improve throughput for the networks and Internet companies we serve, resulting in a better Internet experience for their customers."
The internet has changed dramatically since 2010, most notably is the simple fact that the free pool of IPv4 addresses had now been exhausted.
In February 2011, ICANN held an official ceremony marking the handover of the last IPv4 address blocks to the five global Regional Internet Registries (RIRs). It took four and a half more years until ARIN (American Registry of Internet Numbers) announced that it had exhausted the last of its free pool of IPv4 addresses.
IPv4 address space has room for 4.3 billion internet addresses, in contrast IPv6 has a 128-bit addressing scheme that has support for 340 trillion, trillion, trillion (34 x 10 to the 38th power) internet addresses.
Though the free pool of IPv4 addresses is gone, there is an active resale market for addresses. Additionally many organization and services continue to benefit from large-scale Network Address Translation (NAT) architectures where thousands of private IP addresses sit behind a single IPv4 address.
IPv6 adoption has been sluggish overall and according to Google's latest IPv6 adoption statistics, the most optimistic assessment now has IPv6 at 20 percent adoption.
While Hurricane Electric is now highlighting it's record number of IPv6 network connections, it still has more IPv4 network connections. Currently Hurricane Electric claims that it is connected to more than 6,400 IPv4 networks.
"We started building an IPv6 backbone long ago to be better prepared to best serve our customers so they can continue their growth unimpeded as the Internet gradually transitions to this new protocol," Leber said.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.