The much anticipated World IPv6 Day is now behind us. Almost 400 vendors came together on June 8, 2011 by enabling IPv6 for their content and services for 24 hours. Cisco was one of them. The goal of the test was to demonstrate the viability and potential caveats of a large-scale IPv6 deployment in the real world, as IPv6 has been steadily gaining more and more traction and interest recently due to the gradual IPv4 address exhaustion.
Internally, Cisco, as most organizations, was preparing for the 24 hours to go smoothly for its own IPv6-served content. At the same time, considering the large deployment of Cisco devices throughout networks everywhere, precautions were taken to address any issues that could arise during the dry run. Fortunately, activities concluded successfully with no major issues, showing that an IPv6 future could be closer than initially thought.
There already are and will be many reports created on results, statistics and lessons learned during testing. Among those, we would like to stress a few key-points taken from Cisco Distinguished and Support Engineers Carlos Pignataro, Salman Asadullah, Phil Remaker and Andrew Yourtchenko, who were all engaged in the project, which give a general feel on how the day went:
- Vendor coordination was made possible, showing that even competitors can work together when it comes to a common goal that will benefit everyone.
- There were no support cases related to the World IPv6 Day activities, which indicated a good level of both IPv6 preparedness and product readiness.
- IPv6 adoption could happen smoothly, avoiding major technical issues when done methodically.
- AAAA DNS records that are used for IPv6 do not automatically “break” the Internet, as it was often argued. There are certain challenges with providing an IPv6-enabled DNS infrastructure, but these can be addressed.
- User experience feedback was positive. That was based on an IPv6-only approach. Due to the implementations in a dual-stack environment, user experience could deteriorate based on IPv6 and/or IPv4 performance. In such environments, solutions that track IPv6 and IPv4 performance can alleviate help. As the transition is taking place for years to come, dual-stacked environments will be the way to go, and solutions like Happy Eyeballs can certainly make the experience more transparent for users. The Chrome browser already implements a similar fall-back mechanism, which had documented benefits for some of its users.
Concluding, it is important to note that the successful World IPv6 Day exercise proved that transition to IPv6 would probably not be nearly as scary as many had originally thought some time ago. Careful and gradual adoption is easier than it was believed, and it is already happening. Product concerns, improvements and caveats here at Cisco are aggressively being worked on, and the future will only include positive developments.