State of the Internet – where are we with the IPv6 deployment

It is the beginning of 2021, after an year of changes driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, now more than ever we see the importance of global connectivity and communication. In an year of restrictions and isolation and in a hard time of changed priorities we had just the right tools, solutions and infrastructure to not separate ourselves but to stay connected. And as challenging times do happen every once in a while this time we kept more together than ever.

People working from home saving any bit of economics that can go on, kids and student taking virtual classrooms, all the dynamic information sharing and all this possible over a global network, truly showing that we might not live in a world of boundaries. This is an evolution made possible through a combined effort of now decades of work in IT and Telecommunications. Yet seeing this prove of all this hard work, all we know is that the Internet connects us and has become itself a large ‘organism’ of connected networks and devices. But how do we care for it?

How do we proof our future

To go straight to the topic, the Internet as large as it has grown has the pains of it’s own. Bringing people together, moving the office, the classroom, a conference or just a family gathering online has once again increased the number of users and connected devices. And this number of connected devices is already causing troubles – numbering, specifically the IPv4 addressing is long lasting trouble in this world of “no boundaries”. So IPv6 should be coming to save the day, right.

IPv4 exhaustion and how far are we with the next generation?

More and more connected devices than ever, in world of less than 4 billion available IPv4 addresses. Many of you already know the IPv4 allocation are now considered exhausted. With RIPE NCC reporting the end of the available allocations back in November 2019, most of the RIRs have now declared lack of spare IPv4 resources. Weĺl this is still far from causing any severe effect on the global connectivity. These allocated IP addresses are in the hands of providers. RIRs have developed procedures for reclaiming unused addresses. Waiting lists for new assignments were developed and so on. Measures are taken to slow down the inevitable.

But at some point we have to look a bit further. How far are with deploying IPv6? It has been decades since we’ve been taught that it is the future of the Internet, but did we ever get there? Well i wouldn’t mean to be dramatic, but i feel that we’re not even working focused enough to reach this future.

Yesterday I’ve decided to do a little experiment – how efficiently can i use IPv6 only Internet and as interesting as it may sound, it was sort of a short adventure.

Who’s there?

What you can find on the IPv6 Internet has a good beginning. If you’ve been the office local sysadmin you know that first three checked by the user who reports that the “Internet is down” are Google, Facebook and YouTube. Well good news the Internet “is there” in the IPv6 world.

What is bit of concerning is what can you reach from the Googles search results. Not that much unfortunately. First surprise is that it looks like they plan an “ad free” Internet, several Google Ads redirects don’t have AAAA records rendering several links unreachable. Then it starts – no AAAA, – no, several other global companies – no IPv6 records at all.

On the local scope in Bulgaria (where i currently live), popular news portals and a well known free email service – not on IPv6. Four out of five main universities don’t even have AAAA records, one of the universities is fully available on v6. Not one of the three major telecoms has their website available on IPv6 although they do provide IPv6 connectivity to customers. And i guess people who know me will know which was the only hosting service provider running on IPv6, half a dozen of other popular names unreachable. I was able to find one government site functioning on IPv6. Can’t order food from popular food deliveries. Local auction portal unreachable.

Back on the more global scale i was surprised that i couldn’t use any popular video conferencing tool, instant messenger and several other SaaS services i use at work.

Scary but there is no Stack overflow on IPv6, maybe due to the lack of as well.

It’s a lot of popular services, that don’t have DNS records for IPv6. This is not a reachabilty issue, it is just lack of support for IPv6 at the moment.

I didn’t feel very comfortable on the IPv6 world, so back to the 32-bit, I am willing to share this “state of the future” with an appeal. It’s not a deadline, but we also don’t have to wait for the last moment. IPv6 is running and by far it still seems to be the future of Internet.

Call for action

My appeal is – if you run a service, if you host a web site try using IPv6 as well.

It has bit of a scarier looking addresses, but we do use DNS now, right?

Keep in mind that sometimes you need extra security. Don’t rely solely on it for important stuff. But still if we don’t work on a better alternative, we need to start making baby steps in this direction.

And I don’t consider myself anything like an expert in IPv6, but if you do have any questions, i would be glad to share whatever i can to the extent of my experience with it.

IPv6 is working but we don’t tend to use it, and we don’t even bother. Famous last words will be “give it a try, it can’t be that bad “, but I do believe that if have to build the foundation of our future we can’t just sit and wait.

Come to the IPv6 – we… still have cookies

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