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World IPv6 Day: Tech industry's most-watched event since Y2K

Carolyn Duffy Marsan, Network World | June 8, 2011
The nation's largest telecom carriers, content providers, hardware suppliers and software vendors will be on the edge of their seats tonight for the start of World IPv6 Day, which is the most-anticipated 24 hours the tech industry has seen since fears of the Y2K bug dominated New Year's Eve in 1999.

"Our backbone will be carrying IPv6 traffic because of our peering and transit connectivity. That's where we're interested to see the IPv6 traffic," says Jean McManus, executive director of Verizon's Corporate Technology Organization. "We're kind of curious to see how much we can drive the traffic up on World IPv6 Day."

An increase in IPv6 traffic is the only thing that World IPv6 Day participants are hoping occurs in the next 24 hours. They're keeping their fingers crossed that other threats -- from misconfigured gear to hacking attacks -- don't come to pass. This is another way in which World IPv6 Day and Y2K are similar.

"My hope is that nothing happens on World IPv6 Day," Durand says. "The goal is to make sure that nothing happens and to build confidence that it is OK to deploy IPv6 and that IPv6 is not going to break the IPv4 Internet. We have been putting in place mechanisms to minimize the potential damage. This is the real learning from World IPv6 Day."

Most sites plan to turn off their IPv6 services when World IPv6 Day ends.

"It's a one-day experiment because we need to see how pervasive the problems are," Liu says. "If it turns out that the magnitude of the problem is bigger than ... we anticipated, then there is going to be some concerted effort to stamp out that behavior."

If World IPv6 Day goes as planned, participants predict that some websites will turn IPv6 on in production mode in the coming months.

"To see the momentum continue, we need to see more consumer electronic deploying IPv6, more content and more service providers adding subscribers," says John Brzozowski, distinguished engineer and chief architect for IPv6 at Comcast, which has an ongoing IPv6 trial. "I think we could see these announcements within weeks of the [World IPv6 Day] event ... depending on what we learn about IPv6 brokenness. If it wasn't really that broken after all, content providers may be more open to the idea of turning IPv6 on and leaving it on."

ISPs and content providers are migrating to IPv6 because the Internet is running out of addresses using IPv4. The free pool of unassigned IPv4 addresses expired in February, and in April the Asia Pacific region ran out of all but a few IPv4 addresses being held in reserve for startups. The American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), which doles out IP addresses to network operators in North America, says it will deplete its supply of IPv4 addresses this fall.


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