Google, Facebook and Yahoo Partner for World IPv6 Day

Several of the Internet’s most popular Web sites have agreed to participate in the first global-scale trial of IPv6, the long-anticipated upgrade to the Internet’s main communications protocol known as IPv4.

Photo: Aray Chen/Flickr

The Internet Society, a nonprofit organization for Internet standards has just announced the World IPv6 Day to take place on June 8, 2011.

This is a day in which major web corporations like Google, Facebook, and Yahoo! join major content delivery networks like Akamai and Limelight Networks for a 24-hour global trial of IPv6, the next-generation Internet protocol.

The need for the new protocol arises as the older IPv4 runs out of room. “IPv4 has approximately four billion IP addresses (the sequence of numbers assigned to each Internet-connected device),” the Internet Society explains.

“The explosion in the number of people, devices and web services on the Internet means that IPv4 is running out of space. IPv6, the next-generation Internet protocol, which provides over four billion times more space, will connect the billions of people not connected today and will help ensure the Internet can continue its current growth rate.”

On June 8, 2011, Google, Facebook, Yahoo! Akami, Limelight and other websites will join Internet Society in making the first major “test flight” to IPv6. With over a billion combined hits between the websites, these websites will be testing their infrastructure to ensure that they can handle the switch.

During World IPv6 day, experts predict that only 0.05% of the Internet users will have trouble connecting to these websites due to misconfigured or misbehaving home network devices.

IPv4 uses a 32-bit (four-byte) address, limiting the number of available unique addresses to 4,294,967,296. However, some of these addresses have been reserved for private networks, limiting the available public addresses.

IPv6 uses a 128-bit address, allowing for approximately 3.4 x 10^38, enough public addresses to last us a lifetime. Available IPv4 addresses are now in the final 2%, with just 91 million addresses left. These publicly available Internet addresses are expected to completely be gone in the next 32 days.

“Google has been supporting IPv6 since early 2008, when we first began offering search over IPv6,” writing Network Engineer Lorenzo Colitti on the Google Blog.

“Since then we’ve brought IPv6 support to YouTube and have been helping ISPs enable Google over IPv6 by default for their users. On World IPv6 Day, we’ll be taking the next big step. Together with major web companies such as Facebook and Yahoo!, we will enable IPv6 on our main websites for 24 hours.”

“The good news is that Internet users don’t need to do anything special to prepare for World IPv6 Day. Our current measurements suggest that the vast majority (99.95%) of users will be unaffected.”

“However, in rare cases, users may experience connectivity problems, often due to misconfigured or misbehaving home network devices.”

Adam Bechtel, VP of Yahoo’s Infrastructure Group says, “Participating in World IPv6 Day will allow us to obtain real-life data that we can use to ensure a seamless user experience as we transition to IPv6. We welcome this opportunity to collaborate with the technical community and provide leadership in addressing the scaling challenges facing the Internet.”

“As an industry, we’re working together to ensure future generations continue to have open and direct access to the Internet as we do today,” adds Jonathan Heiliger, VP of Technical Operations at Facebook. “The number of web-connected devices is exploding, and World IPv6 Day is a crucial step in ensuring they can all communicate.”

The Internet Society is calling for other website owners and network operators to take part in the event as well. The organization also has a test website where you can check your IPv6 connectivity. [World IPv6 Day via Google Blog, Facebook and Network World]

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