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IPv6 Day a Couple of Days After

June 8th IPv6 World day came and went without any major glitches, let alone disruption of the internet, and witnessed varying traffic fluctuations depending where on the net observations were made. From a Tata Communications AS6453 perspective, a global tier 1 IP wholesale network, data gathered by a number of probes gave an interesting pulse on what happened in some major international arteries of the internet.

Taking june first IPv6 traffic as a base at value 1 we find 1.04 on June seventh, 1.63 on June 8th, 1.35 on the 9th and 1.34 on the 10th. In other words IPv6 World Day traffic was 60% higher than the previous day. Note that we are talking about traffic levels in the hundreds of megabit per second range.

While some expected an even higher peak, this respectable showing demonstrated the resilience of the global internet fabric and its capacity for future growth on a global level. The following three days, IPv6 traffic remained more than 30% higher than pre-june 8th levels; the most logical explanation is that major content providers such as Google have continued to provide IPv6 access after expiration of the 24 hours of IPv6 day while the drop observed after june 8th seems essentially attributable to some major Content Delivery Networks opting out after the 24 hours as many still have some work to do on load balancers to adequately handle the anticipated growth curves of IPv6 traffic. We can expect to see all major CDN’s move relatively fast however as the competitive pressure cannot but grow. Some smaller Content Hosters already provide ‘A and quad A records’ as standard offering to their customers, in other words both IPv4 and IPv6 to the content they host, providing a growing competitive edge.

On the Indian domestic scene, Tata Communications’ IP network, AS4755 , with nodes in more than 120 major centres, deployed a dedicated helpdesk for IPv6 day as well as probes to compare IPv4 and IPv6 quality of service. Traffic was monitored as well as the major content providers accessed in IPv6. The good news is that there was no news. Here again, the network and its operation proved to be resilient and ready for when the IPv6 traffic growth will enter the elbow of its exponential growth curve. With the incredible size of this emerging market were twenty million cellphones are added every month [PDF], India promises to provide quite a ride.

The prelude to June 8th IPv6 day also saw a number of service providers upgrade their upstream connectivity to dual stack and additional peering capacity moved to dual stack bringing IPv6 a step closer to congruence with IPv4. Geoff Huston’s active IPv6 BGP entry table shows the exponential growth phase gathering further momentum with 6389 entries as of june 13th. On the traffic forecasting front we saw Cisco update their visual networking index [PDF] and predict staggering mobile data traffic growth with smartphones and tablets becoming prevalent by 2015. This year 2011, humanity will also see reach another milestone in its evolution toward homo connectus: more connected devices than humans on this planet. As the human market gets saturated and with ARPU (Average Revenue per User) expected to plateau, mobile operators are looking at connected devices as the next growth opportunity. Recent IPv6 events such as the Ottawa IPv6 Summit filled the University of Ottawa’s amphitheater to capacity including a number of banking and credit card people. The reason for them being there was simply the upcoming era of electronic wallets, each presumably expected to have a unique IP address and some IP security. Adepts of unprotected NATting and IP address promiscuity should be prepared to share both IPv4 addresses and e-wallets. Wouldn’t it be preferable to enrobe our hard earned e-money in some IPsec and send it out with a unique address and a PIN attached?

By Yves Poppe, Director, Business Development IP Strategy at Tata Communications

(Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in these articles are solely those of the author and are not in any way attributable to nor reflect any existing or planned official policy or position of his employer in respect thereto.)

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