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CloudFlare Rolls Out Free IPv6-to-IPv4 Translation Service

It may take a couple of years before an organization will have to make the switch to IPv6, but there is no question that the switch will have to be made. And the majority of IT professionals aren't prepared. According to a recent survey, 80% of about 2,400 respondents feel they are not educated enough on the subject to perform an IPv6 migration, half don’t know which of their network elements support IPv6 today, and 70% are concerned about whether they can successfully implement an IPv6 deployment.

That's where CloudFlare hopes to make a difference. The San Francisco-based Web performance and security vendor has announced Automatic IPv6, a free cloud-based IPv6-to-IPv4 translation service. "Everybody knows it's a problem; what if we made it really easy? We realized six months ago we could solve the problem of transition from IPv4 to Ipv6," says CEO Matthew Prince.

The transition to IPv6 is necessary because the number of IPv4 addresses is running out. To increase IP address space, IPv6 addresses will be 128-bit addresses, versus IPv4’s 32-bit addresses, creating a virtually infinite number of IP addresses. In addition to its primary role of increasing the supply of IP addresses, a test of a dozen IPv6 Web applications saw increases in performance from 2% to 200%, averaging 80%.

Prince says more than 100,000 websites already use CloudFlare, but that only about 1% of the total existing websites are available in IPv6. Powered by proxies at the company's 14 data centers, the service translates IPv6 traffic to IPv4 before being sent to a website. The service also offers IPv4-to-IPv6 translation, he says. "We've been testing for the last month, and I think we have over 10,000 sites using it."

In a year, the company has gone from no traffic to 350 million unique visitors every month and 15 billion page views in the last 30 days, says Prince. The typical website using CloudFlare's free service loads twice as fast, uses 60% less bandwidth, has 65% fewer requests and is significantly more secure, says the company. The company also offers a paid service, CloudFlare Pro, and intends to launch an enterprise version.

"What you ultimately want to do is make the Web fast and safe," Prince says. "We started with performance and speed, and now IPv6."

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