Back In January, Cisco was among the very first to respond to the World IPv6 Day rallying cry launched by the Internet Society and major Internet content providers such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Akamai. Since then, we have been working across the industry with other participants, customers, and users to ensure that this global experiment was a success.
At midnight UTC on June 8 (5pm at Cisco Headquarters in California), www.cisco.com alongside hundreds of other World IPv6 Day participants announced reachability to IPv6 in the global Domain Name System. Millions of lines of code and countless man-hours of work over the past decade developing the various bits and pieces of IPv6 in network equipment and software across the globe were exercised in concert like never before. As we watched the various test sites and dashboards move to “green” status for IPv6, sighs of relief were heard followed by a sense of great satisfaction among everyone involved. 24 hours later, no major issues have been reported.
All in all, World IPv6 Day seems to have gone off without a hitch.
IPv6 is the only long-term solution the industry has available to continue Internet growth in the manner that the world has come to expect. We believe that this day will be looked back upon as a watershed moment in the global deployment of IPv6 -- we have verified not only that IPv6 works on a global scale, but also that it can work alongside IPv4 until the day that we can all begin to turn IPv4 off.
Cisco has been involved in developing standards and products for IPv6 since its inception, and by being part of World IPv6 Day from the very start we have learned a great deal in how the various implementations over IPv6 operate with one another. We will be reporting more on our findings in the coming weeks -- for now, it’s been an exciting 24 hours, and all those that helped get us here are going to get some much-needed rest.
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.
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.