January 17, 2012, 8:13 PM — A dozen of the world's largest Internet companies -- including Facebook, Google and Comcast -- have committed to June 6, 2012, as the start date for their production deployments of IPv6, an upgrade to the Internet's main communications protocol.
The Tuesday announcement of their plans was coordinated by the Internet Society, which is organizing the World IPv6 Launch event and encouraging other ISPs and Web content providers to participate in it.
We spoke with Leslie Daigle, the Internet Society's chief information technology officer, about the significance of the World IPv6 Launch event and what enterprise IT professionals should be doing about it. Here are excerpts from our conversation:
Why is World IPv6 Launch a significant event?
It's a really significant marker in 2012 to lay down that there are real commercial IPv6 services on the content front and on the access front and in terms of the important pieces that are needed for IPv6 including content delivery networks (CDNs) and the customer premises equipment (CPE) vendors. This is not just another trial. It's not a test flight. It's turning it on for real.
But the June 6 date is more of a start date than a deadline for IPv6 deployment, isn't it?
It's a target so that by that point the participants have agreed to start their production deployments. This comes back to last year, when we had a test flight to make sure that the world could actually deal with having dual-stack IPv6 and IPv4 services for content providers. This year, it's really time to stop talking and start doing.
The goal for ISPs in this event -- to have 1% of their residential customers connected via IPv6 by June 6, 2012 -- seems minor given that 99% of their customers will still be on IPv4. Why is the bar set so low for ISPs?
If you talk to a service provider, they won't feel that it's a low bar. It's actually somewhat of a stretch goal. To get to 1%, there are a lot of actions in play in terms of making sure the network is ready and customers are set up. The 1% is a number set to drive real traffic. Content providers want to know that users will be able to reach them over IPv6.