World IPv6 Launch is a worldwide effort led by the Internet Society to drive up adoption of the IPv6 protocol. On June 6, 2012, hundreds of websites and dozens of Internet Service Providers will permanently configure their services to allow the use of the IPv6 protocol for all users.
Why is this important? The Internet Protocol that we use today (IPv4) has run out of addresses and future growth of the Internet depends on transitioning to the new protocol, especially as we look at the explosion in mobile devices and the emergence of the Internet of Things.
There are three major types of participants in World IPv6 Launch:
- Website Operators: Organizations that operate web sites or web site services.
- Network Operators: Organizations that provide Internet connectivity.
- Home Router Vendors: Organizations that provide routers for consumer or small office/home office connectivity.
Each party serves a pivotal role to drive up IPv6 adoption.
How Do I Make My Own Web Site Accessible By IPv6?
Many websites utilize some third party provider to host web content. If that is your situation, see if your provider is on the World IPv6 Launch Participants List and then contact them to demand IPv6 capability! Most well prepared web service providers have a plan to go live on World IPv6 Launch day, and in some cases all you have to do is ask.
If you run your own web server, you have three options:
- Natively install IPv6 capability on your web server and in your internal network up to the web server. This can be complex, especially since you will need to work to ensure that you have adequate security set up throughout the path to the host and on the host itself.
- Utilize a Server Load Balancer with SLB64 at the edge of your network. For example, the Cisco Application Control Engine can terminate IPv6 connections and convert them into IPv4 without any changes required on your current IPv4 web server. See Deploying Deploying IPv6 in the Internet Edge for more details on this approach.
- Employ a Content Distribution Network to convert the IPv6 to IPv4 while still "in the cloud." Many major content distribution networks will provide IPv6 to IPv4 translation as part of their load balancing and caching services.
How Can I Access Web Sites Using IPv6?
In order to reach IPv6 hosts, you need to activate IPv6 on your network. To do that, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) needs to provide native IPv6 connectivity or else you need to build a tunnel over the IPv4 network to an IPv6 capable network. While you can use tunnels, the imminent approach of World IPv6 Launch should encourage you to pressure your current ISP to offer native IPv6 connectivity into your network. Once again, check the World IPv6 Launch Participants List to see if your provider participates..
Once you have been assigned an IPv6 prefix from your service provider, you can activate parts of your network to use IPv6 simply by setting up a specific IPv6 prefix on each router interface. There are several strategies to do so, depending on how you want DHCPv6 and IPv6 based DNS to be part of your network. Once a device receives a global IPv6 address, it can communicate to devices on the IPv6 based Internet.
How Can I Test My IPv6 Connectivity?
There are a number of sites you can utilize to test your IPv6 capabilities from a web browser.
By pointing your browser to http://test-ipv6.com, a series of tests will provide some insight about the state of your IPv6 connectivity from that browser.
By using the similarly named http://ipv6-test.com/, you can see if your favorite websites are accessible by IPv6.
And the equally whimsically named http://ipv6eyechart.ripe.net will test your IPv6 connectivity to a collection of dozens of IPv6 enabled sites.
How Do I Know if a Web Site is IPv6 Enabled?
If a web site is advertising a DNS AAAA ("quad-A") record, the site is enabled for IPv6. You can check for the presence of a AAAA record for a site by using your favorite DNS lookup tools, whether web or host based. There are also web browser plugins available which will conduct DNS lookups for every element of a web page. These plugins work whether you are on an IPv4 or IPv6 network, but they do not indicate how you are actually connecting to the web site. The plugins simply indicate whether or not IPv6 information is available through DNS.
However, once you have IPv6 enabled on your network and web browsing host, both Firefox and Chrome offer third-party plugins which analyze the underlying connections and indicate how you are actually connecting to elements of a web page, whether IPv4 or IPv6. For Firefox, the plugin is IPvFox. For Chrome, the plugin is IPvFoo.
What Can Go Wrong?
The most typical failure seen in a dual stacked IPv4 and IPv6 host is a pause while making the initial connection to another dual stacked site. This hang arises from the fact that the state of the art for connecting to dual-stacked sites used to be "Try IPv6 first, and if that fails, THEN fall back to IPv4." In the case where an IPv6 network path is broken or incomplete, the IPv6 session has to time out before IPv4 takes over, resulting in an irritating pause. There are a series of simple diagnostic procedures to clear up this problem, but the good news is that many modern applications utilize a new IETF standard called Happy Eyeballs which directs a host to simultaneously attempt an initial connection using both IPv4 and IPv6 in order to avoid this issue.
What About My Home Network?
Even though many consumer and small office routers lack strong IPv6 support, a growing number of Cisco Linksys routers are IPv6 Ready. For best in class IPv6 connectivity at home, be sure to harass your service provider about getting native IPv6 connectivity. Wikipedia maintains a pretty good worldwide list of IPv6 enabled ISPs, as does the World IPv6 Launch site. Once you get IPv6, be sure to choose a home router vendor with lots of IPv6 experience.
How Do I Get More Help?
Just ask! The IPv6 Integration and Transition Discussion Group stands ready to answer your questions. The Cisco IPv6 Site is full of hints and tips about deploying IPv6. Look through the Cisco Blogs which have the IPv6 tag as well as the Support Community Blogs on IPv6.