Monday, January 4, 2016

IPv6 is not coming, it is here!

Where are we at?

by Craig Miller
The end of the year is full retrospectives to remind us how far we have come, since we last passed this spot on the earth's orbit around the sun. Why should IPv6 be any different?

For years there has been a Mexican Standoff of sorts with regards to IPv6 adoption. The ISPs didn't want to offer IPv6, because the Content Providers didn't have any IPv6 enabled sites. The Content Providers didn't want to offer IPv6 content, since there was no one to come see it, and so on.

Breaking the log jam

Slowly we are breaking that log jam. But one of the most significant examples of change is Telus, a national ISP here in Canada. This fall they turned on IPv6, and within a short amount of time, 1 out of 3 users on their network is using IPv6.
Telus IPv6 Adoption for 2015
I apologize for the small numbers. But as you can see IPv6 on the Telus network went from essentially Zero, to 37% in the last six months, and really most of it was since the end of September. The State of the Internet site contains the full size graph, as well as many other providers whose names you will recognize, like AT&T, Comcast, and SurfNet (in Europe).

Applications need IPv6 too

But having content and ISPs providing IPv6 connectivity isn't the end of the IPv6 adoption story. There are also the applications. There are still way too many IPv4-only-applications in use today. I ran into one the other day on my Chromebook, SFTP File System. A nice application, allows the mounting of a remote file system over SFTP on the Chromebook. But when I tried to connect to a IPv6 address (or more correctly a DNS name mapped to only an IPv6 address), the application failed, giving a fairly cryptic error. Fortunately, this application is open source, and after inspection, it is easy to spot the IPv4-only socket call.

Help is on the way

The IPv6 Forum has published royalty free sample code (tested on BSD and Linux) to help developers, not only support IPv6 in their applications, but to do so intelligently (using non-blocking socket calls, rather than blocking and making the user wait 30 seconds for the call to fail). The sample code includes client and server examples.

Don't be left behind

With millions of new IPv6 users (who probably don't know they are running IPv6) suddenly online, there is no time like the present to start thinking about your implementation, and how you can support IPv6. Don't be left behind.

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