Technology firms such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook are staging a 24-hour IPv6 global promotion campaign, switching their web sites over to the updated internet protocol.
World IPv6 Day is intended to encourage businesses to speed up their plans to migrate away from IPv4 and demonstrate that the move should be relatively painless.
At the stroke of midnight participants enabled IPv6 on their main web site for 24 hours. More than 400 organisations are expected to participate.
“In all likelihood, you won’t even notice the test. The vast majority (99.95 per cent) of people will be able to access services without interruption: either they’ll connect over IPv6, or their systems will successfully fall back to IPv4,” said Lorenzo Colitti, a network engineer at Google.
But the 24-hour test drive would provide a useful warning for some that their systems are not configured to support IPv6, he added.
The need to migrate to IPv6 is becoming ever-more pressing, said Ian Foddering, chief technology officer for Cisco, as the pool of available IPv4 addresses is running dry.
“While this isn’t a Y2K situation and the internet won’t come to a screeching halt, your business network will noticeably begin to change. For example, your staff, or your customers, may start to experience less than optimal service or connectivity,” he said.
IPv4 was based on a 32-bit numbering system, making it possible to have 4.3 billion different addresses. The last blocks of IPv4 addresses were allocated to regional internet registries in February 2011.
However, IPv6 jumps from a 32-bit to 128-bit system, making it possible to assign an almost endless supply of addresses.
IPv6 day has also won the backing of the British government.
“IPv6 is key to the continued growth of the internet,” said communications minister Ed Vaizey. “It is essential that industry deals with the switch-over before there is an impact on the internet.”
Companies such as HSBC have already invested in upgrading its internet infrastructure in Asia, but many UK firms are still IPv6 laggards.
Those firms that have not already made preparations to migrate to IPv6 should start by talking to their internet service provider and getting them to assign the business IPv6 address space, Dave Siegel, vice president of IP services product management at Global Crossing, told Computing.
“Be sure to make sure the carrier can provide a dual stack connection. A dual-stack network has the ability to route IPv6 and IPv4 side by side on the network so that your wide area network or internet connection behaves as an IPv4 and IPv6 path simultaneously,” he added.