World IPv6 Day, or W6D as it’s since been dubbed, has been and gone, and the general consensus is that it was pretty successful. The metric for success of course wasn’t what did happen, but rather what did not. With some of the biggest content providers out there advertising IPv6 AAAA records, for the first time hundreds of millions of end users were exposed to major web sites with dual-stack DNS records and connectivity. But, despite concerns over what could go wrong, it seems helpdesk calls from users with broken connectivity were minimal. Indeed, among the five universities I spoke to, there were no calls at all.
Of course, of those millions of users, very few have IPv6 connectivity, but it’s vital for IPv6 deployment that big sites can go dual-stack without adversely affecting ‘legacy’ IPv4-only networks, and that was a key issue for W6D.
I ran tests on W6D against a list of .ac.uk sites that I obtained, and this showed some 18 JANET-connected sites who had their web sites dual-stack enabled for the day. These included Loughborough, Imperial, Oxford, Cambridge, Leeds, Sheffield, SOAS, Reading, Cranfield, Sanger and Totton College. Some of these were dual-stack already, and some were only enabled for the day, but congratulations to everyone who took part, it was great to see! A number of these sites have their computing service operations split such that web servers and networks are run by different teams, so one of the benefits of W6D participation was getting these teams – and in some cases others – talking, leading to a successful deployment.
Putting up dual-stack IPv6 content was the main thrust of W6D, with obviously Google (and thus YouTube), Facebook, Yahoo, CNN and the BBC being some of the big players. The content also allowed sites with some IPv6 client deployment to see what impact the extra IPv6 content would have on their systems. Rob Evans wrote a
blog article in which he showed how JANET IPv6 traffic grew for the day, up from 20-30 Mbit/s to 200 Mbit/s+. While not big numbers, that’s a pretty significant jump.
The good news is that W6D was successful enough that many providers have left some significant presence available over IPv6 since the day. User-contributed YouTube content is still being served dual-stack, as is Facebook’s developer site at developers.facebook.com, while Microsoft have left www.xbox.com available over IPv6. It’s enough content overall that JANET IPv6 traffic is still significantly up from pre-W6D levels, as Rob’s data shows.
Here at Southampton, in ECS our traffic levels were somewhat quiet due to W6D being the week after exams ended, but we saw peak IPv6 data rates up to 400 Mbit/s with some external file transfer tests, and over the course of the day some 15% of the external traffic we exchanged was IPv6. Of course we had asked our users to help test IPv6 by looking at YouTube and Facebook content, and they seemed happy to oblige!
So overall, W6D was good, and the interesting question is what next? Well, for JANET-connected sites we have over 100 IPv6 prefixes allocated, and we saw 18 of those sites doing something visible during W6D. The trick now is to determine how to promote further deployment, be that in public-facing services, running IPv6 to Compute Science departments, or perhaps IPv6-enabling eduroam wireless networks. This will be the main topic at JANET’s IPv6 event later this autumn – more info next time.