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World IPv6 Day a success, but still a long way to go, says Arbor Networks

10 June 2011

One of the companies monitoring the effects of World IPv6 Day on Wednesday was Arbor Networks, a Massachusetts-based network security specialist, and Infosecurity was fortunate enough to catch up with the firm's CTO and founder Rob Malan.

Arbor's servers, he said, tracked a 100% increase in the volume of IPv6 traffic flowing across the internet, but the volumes were still tiny - accounting for just 0.030% in total.

According to Malan, after a decade of implementation work by the infrastructure vendors in building towards IPv4 functional parity - combined with the months of preparation by the content and service providers in constructing the routing and namespace frameworks - IPv6 day went off successfully.

"It all worked, and those companies with IPv6 systems were able to test them fully on their internet connections", he said, adding that Wednesday proved that all the content providers' systems, as well as the service providers carrying the traffic, did so without any hitches.

Darren Amstee, Arbor's solutions architect, meanwhile, told Infosecurity that, despite the low volumes of IPv6 traffic seen on the internet as a whole, most service providers are fully geared up for the eventual rollout of the technology.

The only thing missing, however, is demand from the customers.

But, says Malan, interjecting, that will come in time as service providers and their customers realise the benefits they can derive from IPv6, not the least of which is being able to manage many more devices on a given network than with IPv4.

In his blog on the day, the Arbor CTO said that the mix of traffic on the IPv6 network could be best described as flotsam and jetsam: encrypted file transfers, peer to peer traffic, and experimental protocols.

"However, during [Wednesday's] v6 day the mix was dominated with web traffic. The proportion of web traffic grew during the day up until the midnight cut-off point where some of the major content providers withdrew their namespace support" he said.

"At midnight UTC the web traffic falls off the cliff and the traffic mix returns to its pre-v6-day chatter", he added.

The volume of IPv6 traffic seen on Wednesday, says Malan, was in line with the discussions that Arbor had with its clients at a customer summit held earlier this month in Amsterdam.

Despite the success of the IPv6 day, the Arbor Networks CTO said that Wednesday was the start of a long road that will take us to IPv6-land.

"It will pass through the more efficient use of IPv4 address space due to market forces; the operational pressures to not run two separate networks that need debugging and maintenance; and the not insignificant security threats introduced by the incredible complexity and new boundary conditions of the juncture of v4 and v6 networks", he said in his latest blog.

"I have no doubt that the wagons will eventually get there, but it will not be easy", he added.



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