Around the world, organisations have been gearing up for World IPv6 Day -- a widespread, global ‘test flight’ for IPv6.
Participants include technology providers like Cisco plus content providers and other industry players who will come together to enable IPv6 on their main websites for at least 24 hours.
Earlier this year IANA announced that they had allocated the last remaining IPv4 addresses. At the same time, with changing regulatory requirements, more global organisations are having to more to IPv6.
In the meantime, we have a plethora of new devices appearing and more people than ever getting connected to the Internet worldwide. For content providers, connecting to a global audience is a key factor driving the move towards IPv6.
So, what is Cisco doing to help customers? Our message to customers is very simple:
Preserve your current investment by auditing the existing system; then
Prepare by making a plan and starting a managed migration, even if only in one focused part of the network; this ensures one will
Prosper through the transition to a full IPv6-enabled Internet experience.
Imagine how “happy” your eyeballs would become when you realize that your Internet connection failover time was drastically reduced from a full minute to less than half a second, Dan Wing and Andrew Yourtchenko of Cisco developed a methodology to do just that.
The Internet is changing. Network operators and content providers are beginning the widespread global deployment of IPv6, while keeping IPv4 up and running until IPv6 is ready to take over. Dan and Andrew have contributed to the cause of easing the adoption of IPv6 by documenting a methodology that will enable client applications to react more responsively in dual-stack failure scenarios by aggressively rectifying intermittent access issues and therefore preserve the end user experience for dual-stack IPv4 and IPv6 devices. This solution is documented in their IETF draft, cleverly named Happy Eyeballs. It is designed to keep the eyeballs of a computer end user “happy” in the face of problems that may exist when a host is attempting to establish IPv4 or IPv6 connectivity. The IETF draft document describes how client applications should behave when establishing IPv6 and IPv4 connectivity simultaneously, preferring IPv6 if the connectivity is successful, and disconnecting any remaining redundant (IPv4 / TCP) connections. By failing over quickly from IPv6 to IPv4, or from IPv4 to IPv6, the user is not affected by problems that occur in only one of the two IP versions in a dual-stack deployment. This can greatly reduce the connection times in problematic situations -- from minutes to milliseconds, compared to the typical behavior in many implementations today.
In anticipation of World Ipv6 Day, Google Chrome has adopted a similar approach to what Dan and Andrew have documented, under the somewhat less light-hearted name “IPv4-Fallback”. This modification promises to ease potential trouble spots on World IPv6 Day, as well as future browser interactions with dual-stack network configurations. Google’s Internet browser, Chrome 11, uses a “hybrid” variation of Happy Eyeballs that is responsible for establishing, monitoring, and management of simultaneous parallel IP connections. This software enhancement produces significant results by reducing the fallback latency of a problematic IPv6 connection from between 20 and 75 seconds as is often seen today, to as little as 300 milliseconds.
In an ongoing effort to highlight the “Super Simple” developments in Cisco’s service provider technology portfolio, I am blogging once again about a key customer, NTT Plala Inc., part of the NTT group of Japan. They’ve been a Cisco customer for some time, but recently deployed the Cisco Aggregation Services Router 9000 Series (ASR 9000) to enhance their Internet access service. Plala seeks to build a faster yet secure wideband Internet service while optimizing energy consumption. The need for speed is being driven by the demand for services such as video (Hikari TV), and business Internet (“Business Plala”).
One area that the NTT Group has been truly on the leading edge has been IPv6 deployments and the need to be ready for IPv4 address space exhaustion. All of their equipment must be “IPv6 ready”, and the Cisco ASR 9000 is no exception. We’ve communicated the fact that the need to prepare is now, but what’s amazing is when you compare the actual exhaust date to the estimate published by CNN (Sept 1999) over a decade earlier: “The Great IP Crunch of 2010.” Being off by only 10% a full decade out is quite an accomplishment in the fast moving technology industry! What’s just as interesting, from my standpoint at least, is that the 1999 article mentions only one company by name that was preparing in advance: Japan’s NTT.
“Deploying Cisco ASR 9000, companies can get a highly scalable platform that allows them to offer enhanced security service,” said Katsumi Nagata, Board Director, General Manager of NTT Plala. “The environment surrounding ISPs is getting highly complex. Companies are facing many challenges including the need to respond to increasing video traffic and reduce power consumption. Cisco ASR 9000 offers solutions to each of these challenges.”
At Cisco, we are proud to work and now public announce NTT Plala as one of the more than 500 ASR 9000 Series customers around the world, and we look forward to continued growth and appreciate the confidence they’ve placed in us.
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:
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.
Inspired by this service, we choose to implement a basic test rather than displaying plain vanilla message.
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.
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.)
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
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.