IPv6 the New Y2K?

We’ve all heard the headlines. We’ve nearly depleted our supply of IPv4 addresses, and Internet Armageddon is just around the corner. We may run out of V4 addresses as early as the end of this year or early 2011. Well now there’s a bit of good news. IPv6 traffic has increased to a measurable one percent of all Internet traffic. That may not sound like a lot, but it represents significant growth in a short period of time. Arbor Networks registered IPv6 traffic at just .002 percent in 2008.

There is also a way to accelerate further growth, and it’s a trend that’s already started to gain traction. The major ISPs and content delivery providers have to get on board with the IPv6 transition. Our content delivery services at Limelight Networks are fully IPv6-enabled, and as a result, major content customers like Netflix are relying on us for IPv6 migrations. Comcast has also been aggressive, and is starting an IPv6 trial with customers next month.

It’s worth noting that IPv6 is not just an issue for ISPs and major content providers. For corporate America, there are two main challenges with the depletion of V4 addresses. First is address management, which grows increasingly complicated as you deal with limited address resources. That issue goes away with the ocean of V6 addresses available. Second is the challenge of making sure site content and applications don’t get broken in network address translation (NAT). As more NAT devices are put in place throughout the Internet, there are more possible points of failure for applications that require end-to-end transparency. Think e-commerce in particular.

We’re just scratching the service with IPv6 here, but we’ll continue to cover it in more depth in the coming months. Any specific questions, concerns? Drop a note in the comments section.

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