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IPv6 Sensing on Your (and Our) Web Site

June 6, 2011
at 6:31 am PST

You may have noticed that on our Support page, we have a small banner at the top in preparation for World IPv6 Day, which is a galactic test flight of the next generation Internet Protocol.

The banner on our support page tests whether you’re on an IPv4 network (which is the vast majority of our visitors) or on a new IPv6 network (which is the future).

When you first come onto the support page, you’ll see the banner checking your network status:

Then, once the quick test completes, if you’re on an IPv4 network, you’ll get this:

If you’re on an IPv6 network, well, first you already know you are very cool. And second, you’ll see this banner:

If you’re on an IPv6 network but there’s a problem somewhere between here are there, you’ll see this:

We don’t expect many people will see the “problem banner” above. But, the whole purpose of IPv6 Day is to test the end to end behavior and performance of IPv6. It’s the “shakedown cruise” like they do on a brand new oceanliner.

Here’s a little more on the idea behind the banner:

  1. The goal was to inform people about ipv6 and World IPv6 Day and collect statistics to understand how many visitors we would see on IPv6.
  2. As we were discussing as to how to inform people, we got inspired by http://www.getipv6.info/index.php/Warning_broken_users_with_JavaScript.
  3. Inspired by this service, we choose to implement a basic test rather than displaying plain vanilla message.
  4. To support this pre-test service, we created an IPv4-only site, and IPv6-only site and dual-stack enabled site. We choose not to rely on publicly hosted sites.
  5. Based on the success of 1pixel image request from each of the above sites, we display the appropriate message. (This banner and test loads after everything else on the page, by the way, so it doesn’t slow down the page.)
  6. If you can reach IPv4 only sites but cannot reach the dual stack site, this is a mark of brokenness, meaning that your device is probably trying to attach with IPv6 to the dual-stack site and failing.  As part of the logic,  we also report the same error if you can reach IPv6 only sites but not the dual stack site.  This is rarer still
  7. In the process we also send a tag to our analytics server for data capture – which is one of the main goals of the setup.
  8. We have kept the test basic and simple, linking you to a Support Community entry to get more information https://supportforums.cisco.com/docs/DOC-16692.

If your company is participating in World IPv6 Day, you can implement this same kind of logic on your own web sites. It’s easy!

For a more comprehensive IPv6 test, you can use http://test-ipv6.com.

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