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A crisis in the making: Only 4% of the Internet supports IPv6

IPv6 adoption is going so slow that it has become a crisis in the making for the entire Internet. Three years from now there will be no IPv4 address space left. IPv6 needs to be fully adopted by then, but currently only 4% of the Internet supports IPv6.
This for a process that was expected to be done by 2007.

How IPv6 adoption was SUPPOSED to happen

We were supposed to have been much farther along by now. In fact, a presentation by Cisco from 2002 shows that IPv6 was expected to be fully adopted by 2007.

Image from this 2002 Cisco presentation.
Now contrast this with our actual progress in 2009, two years after the above timeline ends.

The current status of IPv6

In an in-depth article about the current status of IPv6 adoption over at CircleID, Derek Morr mentions several interesting data points that we have summarized here. As you can see, we are not even close to full IPv6 adoption.

  • 2008 saw IPv6 adoption rise from 2.4% to 4%.
  • 15% of the transit networks (telecoms like Sprint, Internet2, Global Crossing, etc) support IPv6, but only 2% of the edge networks (networks that are the start or end point of traffic, for example web hosts) do.
  • IPv6 is used for only a tiny fraction of the traffic on the Internet. The largest Internet Exchange Point in the world (AMS-IX) shows that IPv6 accounts for 0.2% of its traffic. Not surprising, considering that that IPv6 traffic only comes from 2% of the edge networks.
  • Only 25% of the DNS root servers support IPv6.
  • DNS root servers see no more than 1.5% (max) of IPv6 traffic.

The race: Get IPv6 running before IPv4 runs out

Since 2004, the IPv4 address space has been shrinking by approximately 4% each year. By the end of 2008, there was only 13% of free IPv4 address space (already down to 12% according to this counter). At that rate, we will reach 0% by 2012.

Projection adopted from the data in this CircleID article.
This means that we need to make sure that IPv6 has been adopted by the entire Internet by the start of 2012 at the latest. And that’s cutting it awfully close.

Get ready for a frantic last-minute IPv6 scramble

IPv6 adoption has taken a lot longer than people initially thought it would, but time is finally starting to run out. All seems set for a frantic scramble in the coming years to get IPv6 up and running properly in time to avoid the problems we will face when you can no longer get any new IPv4 addresses. There is a LOT of work to be done, and very little time left to do it.
Warning sign image courtesy of Mikel Ortega.

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