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IPv6 Stat Leapfrogs Expectations and Illustrates Important Role Registrars Play in Uptake

Tom Coffeen

Since 2005, Infoblox has commissioned a survey by The Measurement Factory, a research firm that specializes in performance testing and protocol compliance. The studies examine key aspects of the Internet's Domain Name infrastructure with results that uncover trends in DNS server configuration and deployed features. Some topics that have helped define the survey over the years have been arguably more leading edge (DNSSEC), while others are best described as quotidian (lame servers).

In 2006, the survey began investigating IPv6. While I'd personally like to think the relatively early inclusion of IPv6 was an inspired (if tacit) endorsement of its adoption, the truth is far more down-to-earth and simply expressed in the original question of whether or not people were using IPv6 on their name servers at all. While sampling the number of people deploying IPv6 with DNS year in and year out has revealed a persistent upward trend, these modest increases (topping out at 1.27% of the servers sampled) have hardly done much to contribute to the sense of inevitable IPv6 adoption. That is, until this year.

Before exploring the results of the survey from 2011, let's look a little closer at the methodology employed. As the basis for the survey, The Measurement Factory sampled 1% of the domain names in the .com, .net, and .org zones. The zone files were obtained from the Public Interest Registry (PIR) and VeriSign and contained 97.6 million, 14.2 million, and 9.5 million domains for .com, .net, and .org respectively. 1% of these (1.2 million) were randomly selected. With this data, the number of zones with one or more name servers with a globally routable IPv6 address was recorded.

Since 2006, this methodology has revealed a year-over-year doubling of IPv6 adoption in DNS. By 2010, we had reached 1.27% of zones with name servers that support IPv6, and with World IPv6 Day in June of 2011, it was safe to assume that we would see a marked increase in this percentage. The latest survey results revealed that it wasn't just marked, it leapfrogged beyond expectations to 25.4 — a 1900% increase.

While some smaller registrars contributed to this jump (including OVH, Gandi, and Active 24), the bulk of the increase was attributable to Go Daddy. In fact, leaving out Go Daddy's contribution, the percentage of zones that support IPv6 roughly doubled again from 2010 to over 3%, which is closer to the market results that were expected with heightened awareness of IPv4 address depletion. But Go Daddy's support for IPv6 is currently limited to DNS: IPv6 isn't yet supported for their web or mail hosting services — something reflected in the survey with the result that less than 1% of the zones sampled had IPv6-enabled web servers.

The survey results reveal that registrars can play a significant role in accelerating broad adoption of IPv6. But even customer rejection of a registrar may result in greater overall registrar support for IPv6. In late December, the fallout from Go Daddy's support of the dead-for-now SOPA (or the Stop Online Piracy Act) reportedly cost them 70,000 domains in one week. Although, it's unlikely that we'll learn right away what percentage of the 70,000 fleeing domains will end up at registrars with support for IPv6.

As the survey results suggest, overall domain registrar support for IPv6 is still quite limited. But those customers that left Go Daddy may be giving their new registrars an earful about the need to support IPv6 if they don't already. And domain registrars that haven't adopted IPv6 are now less able to argue that their lack of IPv6 support is justified by the limited uptake of IPv6 among their peers. Only time will tell if IPv6 adoption among the remaining registrars grows as a result of both this need for competitive parity (as well as from demands for IPv6 support made by Go Daddy's former customers).

With World IPv6 Launch scheduled for later this year, registrars may find new incentives to enable IPv6 support. Many organizations planning participation in World IPv6 Launch are thinking about how to get their public-facing content available over IPv6 by the June 6th deadline.

Since a key requirement of this effort is registrar support for IPv6, it's likely well see such support grow significantly. And where World IPv6 Day encouraged IPv6-enabled content for a single day, World IPv6 Launch hopes to see such content enabled over IPv6 indefinitely. So even organizations that miss the June 6th deadline have an open invitation to join the party (and keep up with participating competitors). The long runway and open-ended nature of World IPv6 Launch suggests that demand for registrar IPv6 support is likely to persist throughout 2012.

To view more survey details and commentary, visit the Infoblox IPv6 Center of Excellence.

By Tom Coffeen, IPv6 Evangelist for Infoblox's IPv6 Center of Excellence

Related topics: DNS, DNS Security, Domain Names, IPv6

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