Today we celebrated going live with IPV6 versions of many of our top rated sites. The work was done in advance of our participation in the IPV6 Launch Day. For the uninitiated, IPv6 Launch Day is the date where major sites will begin to have their websites publicly available in the new Internet numbering scheme and is currently set for June 6, 2012. As many of you likely know the IPv4 space which has served the Internet so well since its inception is running out of unique addresses. I am especially proud of the fact that we are the first of the largest Internet players to achieve this unique feat. In fact three of our sites occupy slots in the Top 25 Sites in the ranking including www.aol.com, www.engadget.com, and www.mapquest.com. As with all things there are some interesting caveats. For example – Google is IPv6 enabled for some ISPs, but not all. I am specifically highlighting global availability.
The journey has been an interesting one and there are many lessons learned going through these exercises. In many conversations on this topic with other large firms exploring making this move, I often hear how difficult this process appears to be and a general reluctance to even begin. Like the old saying goes even the longest journey begins with the first step.
This work was far from easy and our internal team had some great learnings in our efforts to take our sites live beginning with the World IPV6 day in 2011. Although our overall traffic levels remain pretty tiny (sustained about 4-5Mb/s) it is likely to grow as more ISPs convert their infrastructure to IPv6.
Perhaps the most significant thing I would like to share is that while migrating to the numbering system – I was very pleased to find the number of options available to companies in staging their moves to the IPv6. Companies have a host of options available to them outside of an outright full scale renumbering of their networks. There are IPv4 to IPv6 Gateways, capabilities already built into your existing routing and switching equipment that could ease the way, and even some capabilities in external service providers like Akamai that could help ease your adoption into the new space. Eventually everything will need to get migrated and you will need to have a comprehensive plan to get you there, but its nice to know that firms have a bunch of options available to assist in this technical journey.