World IPv6 Day was business as usual for Microsoft
- By Kurt Mackie
- Jun 21, 2011
World IPv6 Day was business as usual for Microsoft and its websites, the software conglomerate said.
World IPv6 Day was a global test conducted June 8 for a Web protocol that's scarcely used. The IPv6 protocol is being used by "less than 1 percent of users," according to Christopher Palmer, IPv6 program manager for Windows core networking at Microsoft, in a blog post.
The Internet Society, a nonprofit that organized World IPv6 Day, estimated that more than 1,000 websites participated in the test, and the nearly 400 participating organizations included the likes of Akamai, Google, Facebook and Yahoo, among others. It was thought that there might be connection problems for about 0.05 percent of Internet users. It was also thought that some security problems might be seen on that day. However, most reports indicated a problem-free Internet.
Internet traffic today uses the current 32-bit IPv4 approach, although the number of available addresses is fast running out based on the limitations of that scheme and the growing proliferation of new websites and devices. The 128-bit IPv6 approach for specifying Internet address numbers promises a few technological improvements, plus a vastly expanded Internet numbers capacity.
For the test, Microsoft enabled IPv6 access to its advertising services, as well as to www.bing.com, www.microsoft.com, www.xbox.com, live.xbox.com and marketplace.xbox.com. After the test, Microsoft rolled back to IPv4 on bing.com and microsoft.com, but it has maintained IPv6 access on the latter three xbox.com sites "indefinitely," Palmer explained in the blog.
"For those properties in particular [xbox.com], the effort for World IPv6 Day delivered much of the necessary infrastructure required for permanent support," Palmer wrote in the blog. Microsoft also uses IPv6 in Windows products, particularly for peer-to-peer technologies.
So-called "dual stack" equipment enables both IPv4 and IPv6 traffic, and tunneling protocols that encapsulate IPv6 packets in IPv4 traffic are being used on networks, such as 6to4, 6in4, and the Microsoft-developed Teredo, among others. However, many networking equipment makers have been slow to include IPv6 technology because they are waiting for Internet service providers to migrate. Consequently, the transition to IPv6 likely will be somewhat slow.
IPv6 isn't new technology, having been around for more than a decade. World IPv6 Day was conducted, in part, to spur greater action within the industry.
Chelmsford, Mass.-based Arbor Networks tracked IPv6 traffic June 8, indicating that IPv6 traffic doubled on that day. However, IPv6 traffic still was tiny, representing the doubling of "a fraction of a percent," according to an Arbor Networks blog post. Getting ISPs and networking companies to support IPv6 will be a somewhat long-haul effort, the blog explains.
"Unless you plug your home PC directly into the cable/dsl modem (another potential point for v4/v6 breakage), you probably have at least a mediating DNS caching device (home router or wireless basestation) that may not elegantly switch back and forth from v4 to v6," the blog states. "The inertia and complexity of changing this element of the Internet is massive."