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More service providers switching to native IPv6, report said

By Max Burkhalter
April 26, 2011
There are two primary ways to work with the IPv6 - configuring hardware to create a native IPv6 connection or using network address translators and other technology to tunnel an IPv6 address in a native IPv4 connection. According to recent data collected by Arbor Networks, more businesses seem to be depending on native IPv6 traffic, a good sign for the migration to the new standard.

Arbor Networks operates an Atlas system to observe packet transmissions. Atlas is capable of analyzing inter-domain traffic to identify trends in IP transit. Currently, 110 major internet carriers are signed up to have their transmissions collected by Atlas. Between August 2010 and February 2011, the Atlas system noticed a drop from 0.03 to 0.01 in tunneled IPv6 transmissions. During the same period, native IPv4 use grew between 40 and 60 percent.

At first glance, the decrease in tunneled IPv6 use may seem like a bad sign for the impending migration to the new protocol. However, Arbor Networks believed the reduction in tunneled IPv6 came because service providers were switching to native IPv6. In response, the company set up a new test to determine how much internet traffic was native IPv6.

By tracking six service providers, the company found native IPv6 transmissions rose from 0.1 percent of all internet traffic to 0.2 percent. The company only tested six service providers because those were the only ones with network infrastructure equipped to handle native IPv6 transmission.

Craig Labovitz, chief scientist for Arbor Networks, told the IDG News Service that it is quite difficult to clearly track IPv6 use. He explained so few service providers are currently equipped to handle the protocol that clear delineation of its use is difficult to identify. However, the testing that has been accomplished points to a small amount of IPv6 growth that is significant considering the short time period represented by the study, he said.

The IPv6 protocol offers improved performance and security that can have manifold benefits. Network engineers involved in the smart object movement are especially enamored with IPv6 protocols. A recent Cisco blog post announced that the Internet Engineering Task Force has completed a new networking standard that will use IPv6 to improve routing for smart objects. Smart objects are becoming popular in the enterprise because their constant connection to the internet gives businesses more control over their operation.


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