One year ago today, the Internet Society spearheaded an event dubbed World IPv6 Launch Day. One year later, has IPv6 adoption actually increased?
IPv6 Launch Day aimed to accelerate global IPv6 adoption by encouraging sites around the world to turn IPv6 on and leave it on. The Launch Day event was the Internet Society's second yearly event for IPv6, following IPv6 Day in 2011. 2013 sees no IPv6 Day event, but that doesn't mean the job of moving the world to IPv6 is done.
Phil Roberts, technology program manager at the Internet Society, told Enterprise Networking Planet that the Internet Society never planned to always hold an annual IPv6 Day event. That doesn't mean that the message is one that should stop being told, though.
"It's important for people to see that IPv6 is continuing to be deployed," Roberts said. "It's important to continue to beat the drum and let people know that IPv6 is out there and people are using it."
Roberts suggested that whenever a big network operator or site turns up its IPv6 usage, that should be noted and reported. However, he no longer thinks that it's necessary to have a single day event to evangelize IPv6 adoption.
"Events help, but they help in the context of needing to get something done," Roberts said.
The IPv6 Day event in 2011 aimed to give websites a reason and validation to try IPv6. By having a large number of sites participate, the idea was that if something went wrong, it would be noticed. The launch day event in 2012, on the other hand, marked a push to turn IPv6 on and keep it on. Roberts sees no such concrete motivation for doing a followup event at this point.
IPv6 in 2013
The big takeaway for Roberts now is the fact that one year after IPv6 Launch Day, there are now more networks and more traffic on IPv6.
The need for IPv6 continues to increase as more devices and people get onto the Internet.
The current IPv4 address space is a 32-bit system that has already been exhausted for net new allocations. In contrast, IPv6 provides a 128-bit addressing space.
IPv4 address space was officially depleted in February of 2011, though that doesn't mean IPv4 is dead. The exhaustion simply means that Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) can no longer get any net new IPv4 address space from IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority). IPv6 and IPv4 address space will coexist for many years to come.
The volume of traffic going over IPv6 in 2013 is still small, but it is growing. Google is currently reporting that 1.27 percent of its traffic comes in over IPv6.
Cisco is currently forecasting that for 2013, 3.1 percent of total IP traffic will be IPv6, up from 1.3 percent at the end of 2012. By the end of 2017, 23.9 percent of IP traffic will be IPv6.
Chicken and Egg
One of IPv6's challenges involves getting more content and networks actually running IPv6.
According to statistics posted by the Internet Society, as of today, only 12 percent of the Alexa Top 1000 websites are accessible via IPv6.
From a network operator perspective, Roberts noted that a number of new IPv6 networks have shown up over the last year.
"The good news is that since 2012, the number of IPv6 networks has increased quite a bit, and there are deployments from major networks around the world," Roberts said.
In particular, Roberts pointed to German telecom giant Deutsche Telekom, which in 2012 did not have a measurable IPv6 deployment. In 2013, Deutsche Telekom's IPv6 ranks in the top ten for IPv6 usage in the world.
Other operators have also experienced growth in deploying IPv6 capabilities over the last year, with AT&T growing from 4 to 9 percent and Verizon Wireless growing from 7 to 31 percent.
"The good news is that almost everywhere we look, IPv6 is increasing," Roberts said. "It seems to be me that it's now at the groundswell stage, and it all looks like everything is up and to the right."
While carriers and some major websites are moving to IPv6, enterprise adoption is following at a slower pace.
In 2012, Roberts told Enterprise Networking Planet that the Internet Society never considered enterprises to be on path for early adoption of IPv6. It's a view that he still holds, though the landscape is beginning to change, thanks in part to the cloud.
"One of the things that is interesting in enterprises now, and a place where we could—or should—see IPv6 show up, is in all the emphasis in moving to the cloud," Roberts said. "There are a lot of cloud providers that have IPv6, and I'd really love to see enterprises making use of that."
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.