It's World IPv6 Day: Notice anything different?
- By Kevin McCaney
- Jun 07, 2011
At 12 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time on June 8, a chunk of the Internet will undergo a significant change, and you, the average user, will get a look at the future. But unless something goes unexpectedly wrong, you won’t notice it.
At that time, which is 8 p.m. EDT June 7 in the US, some 435 organizations around the globe, including Google, Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube and about 24 US government sites, will turn off IPv4 and spend 24 hours running the next generation of Internet Protocols, IPv6.
The idea of World IPv6 Day, arranged by the Internet Society, is partly to raise awareness for the inevitable shift to IPv6, as well as to find any problems along all those links in the Internet infrastructure that are necessary to a steady flow of traffic.
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Most operating systems, Web browsers and Web servers are equipped to handle the protocols. World IPv6 Day, which the Internet Society is also calling “Test Flight Day,” will test how the components between Web servers and users browsers handle the traffic.
The bet is that those components will handle it just fine, with the society predicting that only 0.05 percent of the Internet users might see signs of trouble. Of course, things don’t always go as planned, which is why IPv6 Day is being held — to identify any problems.
The march toward IPv6, prompted by the nearly exhausted number if IPv6 addresses, has been steady, if slow.
The Obama administration has set deadlines for agencies to prepare for the switch, and many have prepared their network backbones. New software and networking equipment comes IPv6-ready. Operations such as Google have some IPv6-enabled sites, but its main sites are accessible only via IPv4.
But World IPv6 Day will be the first large-scale, global test. Participants will switch their main websites to IPv6 by publishing AAAA, or Quad-A, record in the Internet’s Domain Name System that will map the domain name to an IPv6 address. After that, users will be getting there via the new protocols.
The test flight is only for 24 hours and most participants will revert to IPv4 connections when it’s over. But some organizations, including the Veterans Affairs Department, plan to remain in the new world, making the switch to IPv6 permanent.
“Our intention is to leave it on,” Steve Pirzchalski, director of VA’s network design, planning and engineering service, told GCN in May. “Unless something that pops up that is a showstopper, we intend to keep that portion of it up.”
Meanwhile, GCN and 1105 Media colleagues around the country will be running our own test on how World IPv6 Day is working. We’ll have a report on that June 9.
Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.