DISRUPTION might be the only way to force companies into deploying IP version 6 (IPv6) networks according to RIPE NCC managing director Axel Pawlik.
Talking to The INQUIRER ahead of next week's IPv6 day, Pawlik said the event aims to shock companies into action as outfits such as Google serve content over IPv6 for 24 hours. Surprisingly Pawlik said that he and some of the firms involved expected disruption, claiming that Google is expecting to have around one per cent of its IPv6 requests fail due to network incompatibility.
RIPE NCC has set up a monitoring page that will use low-level network measurements to display the performance benefits of IPv6. These include pings and traceroutes to websites such as Google, Yahoo and Facebook, however Pawlik says that Facebook doesn't use IPv6 at all. All this is set to serve as a visual indication of IPv6's advantages.
"I expect to see hiccups," said Pawlik, even though he wants everything to go smoothly next week. Pawlik wants the event to serve as "a springboard for further IPv6 migration at all levels, from the content providers all the way down to the ISPs used by consumers". For that to happen, Pawlik said, "Everyone needs to be exposed to the problem and something needs to break."
Pawlik's comments sound like they are coming from the school of tough love, but looking back on the history of IPv6 deployment, sweet talking big firms into deploying IPv6 simply hasn't worked. Pawlik admitted that the networking community "was slow to pick up IPv6". He said that work on deploying IPv6 networks started over a decade ago, when RIPE would play down the risks of not moving over to IPv6 by saying that firms should consider IPv6 in the future. Well, now the future has arrived, and by Pawlik's own admission there is still far too much reliance on IP version 4 (IPv4), and RIPE NCC and other registries are having to use shock tactics to get firms to realise that something has to be done right now.
As for IPv4 addresses running out, Pawlik said that RIPE NCC, the non-profit organisation that oversees IP address allocation in Europe, will definitely run out of IPv4 addresses during the second half of 2011. At present RIPE NCC requires firms requesting IPv4 blocks to concurrently request IPv6 blocks.
The problem with IPv6 adoption is partly due to its incompatibility with IPv4, something that Pawlik says will have to be considered when the next generation of network engineers think about redesigning a fundamental part of the internet. Pawlik also suggested that they be more aggressive than RIPE NCC was with IPv6 when it comes to pushing the next generation of internet technology.
It might seem odd for one of the internet's most important organisations to expect failure, but in the case of IPv6 there could be no other way to jolt firms that feel all too comfortable doing nothing into action.
Google got in touch with The INQUIRER to say that it expects only 0.05 per cent of users to have any problems on IPv6 day, not one per cent as suggested by Pawlik.
In a statement, Google referenced a blog post it made back in January saying, "The vast majority (99.95%) of Internet users shouldn't see anything out of the ordinary. For the remaining 0.05% of users, misconfigured or misbehaving network equipment, particularly in home networks, may impair access to participating websites during the trial."
Google also said that other companies such as Facebook will take part in IPv6 day. But as Pawlik and RIPE NCC's statistics point out, it isn't providing any public-facing services over IPv6, yet.
Of course it will be good if Google is proven right and just 0.05 per cent of its users suffer some sort of problem on IPv6 day. After all a seamless transition is what everyone wants, especially those companies that have stuck their heads above the parapit with the aim of publicising a much needed technology upgrade.
UPDATE - 6 June 2006
RIPE has got in touch with The INQUIRER to say that Pawlik's comments regarding Google's expected failure rate of 1 per cent was "an estimation for example purposes". Apparently Google got in touch with RIPE and said the "the real expectation is much smaller, 0.5 per cent or so". Though that still doesn't tally with what Google had previously said to The INQUIRER.
Also, Pawlik wanted to clarify that Facebook does use IPv6, but on a different subdomain, www.v6.facebook.com. Apparently on IPv6 day, Facebook will switch that subdomain to the main www.facebook.com hostname which RIPE's network monitoring tools is tracking.
And finally Pawlik wanted to say "World IPv6 Day isn't meant to shock people into action, but rather to raise awareness." µ