IPv6 Launch Called Mixed Success
Despite widespread publicity for World IPv6 Launch day earlier this week, the protocol's presence on the Internet remains painfully modest next to the domination of IPv4, Internet monitoring companies have reported.
From early June 6 numbers, the Internet Society's World IPv6 Launch test might be educating the network community about its importance without actually convincing that many to use it in anger.
According to Arbor Networks, traffic did rise on the day, with native (i.e non-tunnelled) IPv6 showing a 20 percent increase across a small but representative selection of tier 1 and 2 US-based ISPs. This fell back as Europe came online, which could reflect less use of the protocol or fewer routers from which IPv6 data can be extracted. (See also "IPv6: Five Things You Should Know.")
This is similar to 2011 when IPv6 rose before falling back. The positive in the 2012 figures is that the baseline use of IPv6 has risen since then, Arbor said, from the vanishingly insignificant 0.02 percent of all traffic to a whopping peak of 0.1 percent this year.
"This slow but steady growth continued up until about one week ago, at which point it suddenly took off. Presumably, this is due to providers testing and then turning on IPv6 services in preparation for IPv6 Launch Day," said Arbor's Darren Anstee in a new blog.
This corresponds to what other vendors saw this year.
"Over the past year, we've seen both enterprise and service provider customers slowly make the transition to IPv6, but 'slowly' really is the key word here," reported Mike Palladino of Internap.
"The continued heavy deaggregation (efficient use of] we have observed in the global IPv4 routing table also clearly shows us that customers are still focused on making the most of their IPv4 address space."
IPv6 migration remained hamstrung by limited budgets for new hardware, a lack of technical awareness, and perhaps a lack of tools offering parity across both protocols, he said.
Arbor nevertheless found some clues in its graphs that IPv6 is holding on by more than small claws.
SMTP email traffic appeared to be more prominent in the IPv6 world, a sign of real use of the protocol at last, ditto an increase in BitTorrent file sharing and even https.
Not many more networks are using IPv6, then, compared to 2011 but those who are appear to have more than experimentation on their minds. Someone, somewhere is using IPv6 to do real work at last.
World IPv6 Launch will be declared a success -- many premium carriers report traffic increases -- but the road will be a longer one than some expected. All eyes will be in the traffic levels in the coming days, which showed a sharp drop after the 2011 test day. Avoiding that could on its own be seen as the biggest success of all.