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IPv6 10 years away from becoming mainstream, says Arbor

Antony Savvas

Arbor Networks has published an extensive study into the take-up, or otherwise, of the IPv6 internet traffic protocol.

IPv6 is said to be essential if the web is not to run out of IP addresses and businesses are to be given greater web security.

Craig Labovitz, Arbor Networks chief scientist, said, "It is now clear the original optimistic IPv6 deployment plans have failed. However, the eventual exhaustion of IPv4 allocations [addresses] is very real and IPv6 adoption will happen.

"Based on our analysis, at the current rate of adoption, we are a decade or more away from pervasive adoption of dual stack support for IPv6."

He said the US government issued a federal mandate to demand IPv6 systems and that all major vendors have now publicly declared their IPv6 readiness.

The Beijing Olympics are also being highlighted as the first global showcase for IPv6 technology by China's government.

For its study, Arbor collaborated with 91 ISP customers representing a broad cross section of global tier-1 IP network service providers and regional tier 2 ISPs, as well as large content providers, hosting companies and broadband access providers.

Arbor collected anonymised data that covered 2,393 peering and backbone routers and 278,797 customer and peering interfaces. This made it the largest and most comprehensive study of IPv6 traffic to date, said Arbor.

The report focused only on IPv6 traffic that is tunnelled over IPv4 using IP protocol 41, which is universally reported by the monitored routers.

Arbor observed steady growth in the amount of IPv6 traffic across its one-year analysis, but IPv6 traffic is still a tiny percentage of overall Internet traffic. Tunnelled IPv6 traffic represented only 0.0026% of overall IPv4 traffic.

Juniper Networks enterprise strategy head Hitesh Sheth, speaking at the firm's recent annual press summit in Lisbon, said, "There is still some industry debate as to how IPv6 should be delivered, but like most firms we have IPv6-compliant products available.

"So far, however, we have only seen specific demand for IPv6 in the government sector. The Japanese government for instance is adopting it."

The US and Chinese governments are also adopting IPv6, but the UK and the rest of the European Union have been sluggish in doing so, said Sheth.

Sheth said firms were more concerned about ordering future-proofed IPv4 networking products that could be upgraded when necessary.

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