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Despite increasing the scope for Internet-based innovation, McCalla also said ongoing economic uncertainty had helped put IPv6 on the back burner. “I expect a lot of CTOs [chief technology officers] have it in their roadmaps. And I would advise that it’s best included in wider upgrade plans. But I can’t predict when the tipping point for them will be,” he said.

Nominet is also among a number of UK organisations meeting with culture minister, Ed Vaizey today for a roundtable IPv6 discussion. It is most likely participants will focus on the challenges and benefits of transition, and “the minister wants to make sure the government can be very much part of that debate,” McCalla added.

Assessing migration risks

Like Tata and Nominet, UK IT hosting firm, Memset has already upgraded its routers, web servers and applications servers to support end-to-end IPv6 connectivity. It also rolled out a beta trial of its IPv6 network on 1 June. Those customers signed up to the beta trial can also take part in World IPv6 Day. “We are using the beta phase to get some adventurous customers to iron the kinks out of the service,” said Nick Craig-Wood, Memset technical director.

While the affects of business continuity issues around IT services and website availability during any migration may be the greatest perceived risk around IPv6 migration projects, Craig-Wood said these had nothing to do with the latest IP standard in itself. “It’s the usual ones associated with adjusting the configurations of live services that always carry a risk of breaking something unintentionally,” he said.

For example if, in adding an IPv6 configuration to an Apache web server, a small mistake is made, Craig-Wood said the web server will refuse to restart and may, at that point, refuse to serve a website until the configuration is fixed. “This risk can be mitigated by testing on a development server, of course,” he added. “But not all of our customers have that luxury. To make a successful IPv6 deployment you would need to configure the networking on the server, the web server configuration, and the DNS [domain name system], all of which could potentially interfere with live services.”

Axel Pawlik, managing director of RIPE NCC, said it was the job of the RIRs like RIPE to measure and report on today’s efforts, where RIPE Labs is running an IPv6 Eye Chart to test visibility of all World IPv6 Day participants and other sites that are already ‘dual-stacked’ – that is, running on both IPv4 and IPv6. It is testing connectivity and performance to World IPv6 Day participants using the RIPE NCC Test Traffic Measurements infrastructure, and also making those measurements available online.

“For companies involved, like Google, Facebook and Yahoo!, you’re talking about a lot of customers, so today allows them to do migration work in a controlled way,” explained Pawlik. “It’s a confidence builder that will show enterprises there is nothing to be afraid of with IPv6.”

RIPE’s Daniel Karrenberg has provided a Guide to Deploying IPv6, for those wanting to take the plunge.

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Miya Knights

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