September 28, 2010, 9:42 PM — Cisco has quietly begun serving up content from its main Web site that supports IPv6, the long-anticipated upgrade to the Internet's main communications protocol known as IPv4.
The move is significant given that Cisco has been selling IPv6-enabled routers, software and services to carriers and enterprise customers for many years. Now, Cisco is taking the initiative to deploy IPv6 on its own public-facing Web site -- what the IT industry calls "dogfooding" when a company deploys its own technology.
Cisco confirmed Tuesday that on Aug. 23 it began testing IPv6 on an alternative Web site -- www.ipv6.cisco.com -- instead of its main Web site, which is www.cisco.com. Cisco said it is maintaining a dual IPv6 and IPv4 approach for its external Web presence so that all of its customers can access the Web site reliably.
"We could begin with a translating proxy to give an IPv6 presence with an IPv4 back end, but since the end goal is native IPv6 anyway we have decided to take this time to get our applications steadily moved to IPv6 natively rather than translating," explains Mark Townsley, distinguished engineer for Cisco. "We may consider a proxy for some parts of our presence down the road, but for the moment we prefer working on the various IPv6 dependencies in our code directly."
Cisco isn't the only IPv6 vendor to have dragged its feet on deploying the new IP addressing standard on its Web site.
Microsoft, which offers built-in IPv6 in Windows 7 and Windows Vista, has yet to support IPv6 content on Bing or MSN.
IPv6 is the biggest upgrade in the 40-year history of the Internet. Forward-looking carriers and enterprises are deploying IPv6 because the Internet is running out of IP addresses using the current standard, known as IPv4.
IPv4 uses 32-bit addresses and can support 4.3 billion devices connected directly to the Internet. IPv6, on the other hand, uses 128-bit addresses and supports a virtually unlimited number of devices -- 2 to the 128th power.