Many months of planning and coordination culminated Wednesday during the Internet Society-coordinated World IPv6 Day.
June 8th, 2011, will be forever marked in Internet history as the day when content and access network operators attempted to make IPv6 work across the global Internet. What was the goal? Essentially, to run a 24-hour long trial of IPv6 on a global scale across the Internet. With the exhaustion of IPv4 resources across the Internet, IPv6 is the new numbering plan to ensure continued worldwide growth of this incredible resource.
Here’s a brief history/timeline of how we got to this point, a recap of how this friendly neighborhood managed DNS provider prepared for World IPv6 Day and how we executed our game plan.
Preparations Started Years Ago
In 1981, the definition for Internet Protocol was released as RFC 791, which defined a 32-bit numbering space for hosts. Fast forward to 1995 as the Internet is developing from an academic network to a commercial network and RFC 1884 is released, defining IP Version 6 addressing. For many, they never thought the day would come when a larger numbering space would be needed and in many ways, the IPv6 specification was ignored.
Additionally, unlike today’s transition from IPv4 to IPv6, the opportunity to run a worldwide transition “flag day” existed, given the Internet’s largely academic and non-commercial mode of operation. Henceforth, no inherent transition methodology was built into IPv6.
It wasn’t until the projected exhaustion of IPv4 became a regular topic of Internet researchers and academics that IPv6 got any real attention. It was already too late at this point in many cases to arrange a simple transition or to run an IPv4 to IPv6 flag day. And so the Internet continued to grow, with more and more commercial traffic consuming the networks and raising the need to reliable access for commerce and communication.
The good news is that many networks anticipated this event and have been preparing for years. Hardware manufacturers have increasingly built IPv6 support into their platforms. Software developers have spent hours dual-stack enabling their software products. Other developers have spent time building IPv4 to IPv6 transition technologies such as 6to4, 6RD and DS-Lite. The bad news in all of this is that many of these hardware, software and transition pieces have been “lightly” tested and in many ways, isolated from production Internet traffic.
On World IPv6 Day, IPv6 support was enabled for many high and low traffic websites around the world. Seeing as this was a coordinated event, in some ways it was OK if the Internet “broke” as stewards from around the world were available to immediately react to any issues that could arise.
Dyn’s Plan For World IPv6 Day…
Being a provider of critical Internet infrastructure services, our involvement in World IPv6 Day was critical. As DNS is the glue of the Internet, ensuring that our managed external anycast DNS services were available and running properly was critical for the success of our company and for our customers.
Dyn started preparing for IPv6 back in 2007 as we began deployment of the Dynect Platform. Our requirements at the time were simple: buy transit from Tier-1 ISPs (such as NTT) who could provide us with dual-stack IPv4/IPv6 transit services. In 2008, having acquired our IPv6 address space from our RIR, ARIN, we began deploying services on IPv6 to our customer base.
Our first deployments were simple – to enable IPv6 connectivity to certain non-critical, non-production services to gain operational experience with it. Later in the year with the release of DynDNS.com Spring Server, we upped the ante by being the first dual-stack VPS provider in the world. In January 2009, having developed confidence in our ability to manage and operate a dual-stack network, we released our IPv6 Implementation Plan, a way to transparently communicate our plans to support IPv6 to our customer base.
Later in the year, we ran our first series of tests by offering IPv6 transport to our ns2.mydyndns.org Custom DNS server. By and large, we have stuck to the plan and have nearly completed all planned implementation including full IPv6 support for DynDNS.com and Dynect Platform DNS services and other customer facing services such as the Dynect Management Portal and API.
…And The Execution Of That Plan.
On World IPv6 Day, it was business as usual at Dyn (well, not really, as our office is moving to 150 Dow St at the same time). The network ran as expected and we continuously monitored our services for any hint of issues with IPv6. The results: not exciting. Our measurement systems examined ratio of IPv4/IPv6 transport to our DNS nameservers, the ratio of A/AAAA DNS lookup requests and traffic to our dual-stack properties (including the Dynect Management Portal, the API, and Dyn.com).
Across the board, IPv6 traffic levels and request patterns stayed about the same – 1%-2% of transport in and out of the network ran over IPv6 and about 15% of DNS queries received asked for AAAA records.
Our management portal, API and dyn.com webservers did not receive any appreciable amount of IPv6 traffic over any other given day. While I’m surprised we did not see any difference in traffic to our DNS nodes, I am not surprised about our web properties (as our sites are likely not statistically interesting to the population using IPv6).
Really? Business As Usual? What Happened?
So if World IPv6 Day was really “business as usual” for Dyn, what about the other 400 participants in World IPv6 Day? ISOC reports that World IPv6 Day was a success and “demonstrated global readiness for IPv6.” Facebook, a participant, reported that over 1MM unique visitors accessed their site via IPv6. The industry gurus over at Arbor Networks reported “Wagon’s Ho!” on IPv6.
German Internet exchange point, DE-CIX, saw well over a doubling of IPv6 traffic across their platform. The Amsterdam Internet exchange point, AMS-IX, didn’t see quite the same effect. Why? I’m hoping to find out during the panel on World IPv6 Day Experiences hosted at NANOG 52 in Denver, CO, next week.
Overall, does this mean the Internet is ready for IPv6?
Most certainly not, but it certainly shows promise to all of the work that networks have been doing over the past decade to prepare. What should you be doing about it? Start experimenting with IPv6 on your network (in your lab, of course) and learn how to operate it.