On Tuesday night, the world's largest carrier's providers and websites are switching on IPv6, the next-generation Internet protocol that's needed to deal with the looming address shortage. Most enterprise networks aren't ready, according to a survey from trade association CompTIA, which found that only 23% of business IT departments in the U.S. have actually begun to implement the new protocol. Fewer than half have even researched it or queried vendors about IPv6 support. Fortunately, this week's debut of IPv6 is just a 24-hour trial run during which it will coexist with the current protocol, IPv4, so most users shouldn't see much if any disruption. However, the trial will give Internet users a chance to see how prepared they are for the eventual switchover.
Sponsored by the Internet Society, World IPv6 day runs throughout Wednesday as measured by GMT, or from Tuesday to Wednesday evening in the U.S. For 24 hours, major companies including Google, Facebook, and Yahoo! will make their web servers available through IPv6 so that Internet users can test out the new protocol. Major carriers like Verizon have also committed to supporting it, in theory meaning that many Internet users will be able to access the servers without using IPv4 at all.
To simplify testing, many sites have posted browser-based scripts that try to reach the World IPv6 Day participants through IPv6, letting users know instantly how well their systems and Internet connections are configured for it. The Internet Society itself recommends test-ipv6 for a fast test using ten common sites and Netalyzer, a Java applet from the International Computer Science Institute that provides more detailed information.
Many Internet users will likely find that they can't use IPv6, as the new protocol needs to be enabled at every step of the link, including the ISP connection and any intermediate routers as well as the browser and servers themselves. For this reason, all of the sites and carrier networks participating in World IPv6 day aim to be "dual-stacked," meaning they support both versions of the protocol. Though this week's test only involves dual-stacking for one day, it will play an important role when the eventual switchover to IPv6 occurs. Many networks and servers will likely be dual-stacked for years. So World IPv6 Day is really a test of dual-stacking rather than of IPv6 itself.
The Internet Society expects that most problems users experience with World IPv6 day will be due to configuration issues with dual-stacking. For people who don't want to try out IPv6 right now but just want to know whether dual-stacking by their ISP or website will cause any issues with existing (IPv4) connectivity, Google's test site can quickly check for problems while regional Internet registry RIPE NCC has a browser-based IPv6 Eye Chart that simultaneously tries to reach more than 50 dual-stacked websites. Many of these have been operating continuously since before World IPv6 day and will continue to do so afterwards, giving users a chance to test out IPv6 at their own pace.
InformationWeek Analytics conducting a survey to get a baseline look at where enterprises stand on their IPv6 deployments, with a focus on problem areas, including security, training, budget, and readiness. Respond to the survey and be eligible to win an iPad 2. Take the survey now. Survey ends June 13.