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World IPv6 Day

Is your IBM i ready?

Is your IBM i ready?

Are you excited for World IPv6 Day? If you haven’t heard the news, it’s coming on June 8, 2011. For me, sitting in Rochester, Minn., the day starts at 7 p.m. on June 7 since the event is based on UTC time.

World IPv6 Day?! Will someone shut off my IPv4 Internet and force me to use IPv6? Take a deep breath; the IPv4 Internet you know and perhaps love (too much) will still be there. Fortunately or unfortunately, based on your perspective, IPv4 isn’t going away anytime soon. Frankly, I’ll be surprised if IPv4 is gone before I am.

What in the world is the big deal then? The Internet Society has organized this event to help kick start the IPv6 transition. You’re not using IPv6 today and neither am IÉand that’s now a big problem. The master plan 10 years ago had the majority of Internet traffic flowing over IPv6 by now and at the very least a majority of network devices would have the capability to use IPv6. The reality is that most shiny new routers sitting on the shelves of the big-box stores still don’t have IPv6 capabilities. The typical consumer isn’t complaining though because their Internet provider doesn’t offer IPv6 service anyway. Chicken meet egg?

Time to Start Caring

2011 is finally the year where some consumers in the world have no choice but to start caring. In January, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) officially ran out of IPv4 addresses. No problem, that still left each the five Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) with a pool of IPv4 addresses based on a previously-agreed-to plan. That pool lasted all of three months for the APNIC (Asia-Pacific Network Information Center) RIR. APNIC ran out of IPv4 addresses on April 15. That means they have no more address blocks to hand out to local Internet providers such as telecoms or cable providers. These individual Internet providers have varying sized stockpiles of IPv4 addresses to maintain their capability to roll out new handsets or add subscribers. Those stockpiles will last only so long before they too are gone.

Now those service providers and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) are busy working on numerous additional transitional mechanisms to help IPv4 and IPv6 coexist. Most of these “hacks” wouldn’t have been needed had the world made any significant progress toward IPv6 over the last 10 years. Instead, now you get to enjoy a world with NAT444 where your NAT address is behind your carrier’s NAT, which then finally gets to a “real” address.

Let’s get back to June 8. For this 24-hour period, more than 100 websites will participate in the event. A quick glance at the list will show you that more than one of your daily destinations is a participant. The participants have agreed to make their existing IPv6 address available under their main host name this day. Currently, that IPv6 address is available under a different host name that likely includes ipv6 or a 6 appended to the normal name. So on June 8 everyone in the world has the potential to resolve (find by asking a DNS) an IPv6 address for these sites, not just the early adopters who know to ask for a different name to get IPv6. This is great news for the handful of people in the world who are in IPv6 pilot programs with their Internet providers. For the rest of us, it might not be such a great deal; however, we are the users who are the main focus behind the event.

At its core, the event aims to determine how many users in the world lose connectivity that day. You can imagine no website wants to have its users unable to reach it for any amount of time, especially if the competitor’s working site is just a click away. By agreeing to try this together on one day, they all will share the pain. One estimate is that 0.05% of Internet users will experience an issue. For the browser/operating system combination you’re using to read this, you can pre-test how you can expect to fair that day.

If something breaks, the resolution could require changes in the application, configuration, network topology, or all of the above. Once the June 8 dust settles, the participants will share lessons learned and work to address what was found to be broken. As soon as individual participants feel comfortable with the level of brokenness, they’ll permanently put their IPv6 address in the DNS under their generic host name.

Tim Mullenbach is an Advisory Software Engineer at IBM Rochester, Minnesota.

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