Internet Systems Consortium gets gift of big IPv6 pipe

The Internet Systems Consortium, a nonprofit organization that supports the Internet's F-root name server and hosts a number of open-source groups, has received a 1 gigabit Ethernet link from NTT America.

The donation from the U.S. subsidiary of NTT Communications is a major upgrade of the consortium's IPv6 bandwidth, said ISC President Paul Vixie. NTT operates the world's largest Tier 1 IPv6 backbone.

'If you want to have IPv6 connectivity, which we do, this is the best you can get,' Vixie said. 'IPv6 just became a first-class citizen for us.'

The F-root name server is one of 13 top-tier servers in the Internet's Domain Name System, which translates domains into IP addresses. ISC also hosts the Linux Kernel Archives, Mozilla, FreeBSD, the Internet Archive and other software projects and provides open-source software -- including BIND 9, one of the most widely-deployed DNS servers.

IPv6, the next generation of IP, boasts an expanded address space and improved functionality over IPv4, the version now widely deployed. The new protocol is important to ISC because of the advanced work many of its hosted organizations perform.

'The research and engineering communities are very interested in the content we carry,' Vixie said, and many of them are using IPv6.

NTT has supported ISC with donated bandwidth for several years, including an IPv6 connection at OC-3 speeds. The new gigabit link is a significant increase in that capacity, Vixie said. 'This is huge,' he added. 'It's like going from off the map to being on the map.'

Although low latency is important to users of the F-root server, its relatively low volume of traffic and small messages make the big IPv6 pipe less important than in other applications.

'When Mozilla does a new release of their Firefox browser, and every student in every dorm room in the country'[wants] to get it in the first hour, we see a couple hundred megabits of that traffic as IPv6,' Vixie said. 'F-root does see some IPv6 traffic, but the root server is not nearly as big as a Firefox release.'

He said the government, research and education communities' early adoption of IPv6 parallels their adoption of IPv4 when that technology was new.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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