For over 25 years, Cisco has been central to the development of the Internet Protocol (IP) that has helped fuel the incredible growth in global connectivity the world enjoys today. Very soon, the free pool of IPv4 addresses will finally run dry, and IPv6 is the only long-term solution the industry has available to continue growth in the manner that the world has come to expect.
Cisco has been involved in developing standards and products for IPv6 since its inception more than a decade ago. While we have helped a number of customers deploy IPv6 on networks large and small, stitching this together ubiquitously and seamlessly among not just the networks themselves but the software and applications running on top has been challenging.
On June 8, the industry is coming together to deploy and test IPv6 in what we believe will be an unprecedented manner in terms of participation and scale. On this day, major web companies, Internet Service Providers, enterprises, and equipment vendors will work together to “switch on” IPv6 for 24 hours. The switch that will be thrown is one within the global Domain Name System, or DNS, which translates a name such as http://www.cisco.com into an IP address. Today, while a number of large websites have IPv6 connectivity, in order to reach many of them over IPv6 the user must use a special DNS name. For example, even if you have an IPv6-enabled device connected to an IPv6-enabled network, you must type http://www.ipv6.cisco.com in your web browser in order to receive an IPv6 destination address to connect to.
On World IPv6 Day, we will advertise both an IPv4 and IPv6 address in the DNS for http://www.cisco.com for 24 hours along with the rest of the World IPv6 day participants. This will allow devices that have IPv6 connectivity to use it without requiring the user to type a special name, while those that do not have IPv6 will continue to reach our site as they always have over IPv4. Most major operating systems sold today have IPv6 capability built-in, but may not be configured to use IPv6 properly or may not be connected to an IPv6-enabled network. Further, those that do have IPv4 and IPv6 configured but have latent IPv6 connectivity problems can face noticeable delays due to the logic that these computers, tablets, and phones use when deciding whether to use IPv4 or IPv6. One of the very important goals of this experiment is to help the industry measure, work through, and put to rest a number of these types of issues.
In the coming months, Cisco will be working with our development teams, Cisco Services teams, and customers to ensure that this global experiment meets its objectives with the least amount of disruption possible to Internet users worldwide. We’ll be writing more soon about how World IPv6 Day might impact you, and what you can do to prepare for it.
IPv4 has served us remarkably well for the past 30 years. Moving to a new version will not be easy, but it is essential to the continued growth of the Internet we have come to depend upon.