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IPv6 Day only a beginning, researchers say

Stephen Lawson, IDG News Services | June 10, 2011
World IPv6 Day boosted the amount of native IPv6 traffic on the Internet, but it mostly increased the use of transitional protocols that won't help to solve the looming shortage of IPv4 addresses, according to researchers studying data from Wednesday's event.

Though the traffic data from World IPv6 Day didn't reveal how users came to visit IPv6 pages, many probably didn't even know they were doing so, Labovitz said. Some operating systems will automatically try to go to an IPv6 page if it is offered, he said. Part of the purpose of World IPv6 Day was to test whether those systems would get to the sites or run into problems along the way. If all the software, hardware and network components along the way were not designed correctly or were out of date, end users might have experienced problems, he said. Those issues seemed to be rare on Wednesday, according to event participants and researchers.

Because it took place on the Web, the test also led to a day with a more balanced mix of uses for IPv6, which is usually dominated by peer-to-peer file sharing. College students and other users concerned about network management techniques to discourage file sharing have discovered that these tools often don't work with IPv6 traffic, Labovitz said. This aspect of the new protocol is one that should command IT administrators' attention, because it has implications for security, he said.

"It may be that you are passing [IPv6 traffic] by default and you don't even know it," Labovitz said. "You need to understand what traffic is in your network."


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