IETF meeting cuts off all IPv4 connections for a while
For just under an hour last Wednesday, the organizers of the 71st IETF meeting in Philadelphia cut off all connections to the IPv4 world. Anyone wanting to connect to the internet was left with just a pure IPv6 network. Russ Housley, the IETF chairman, had announced the experiment long before the meeting: "The internet is going down". But how far down would it really go?
In order to keep a line to the world open just a little, the pure IPv6 zone was carefully limited to the hall in which the meeting was being held. And even there, a 6 to 4 bridge made sure that, for three-quarters of the time, no one was cut off for too long. Some sixty IETF members had prepared their laptops and systems at home for the test. Somewhat fewer admitted they hadn't already fully set up IPv6, and a few developers quickly set up their computers on the spot. Tips for IPv6 support were given in advance, particularly for not very IPv6-friendly operating systems, such as Windows XP.
Those who got on to the IPv6 network were able to test which of their applications – with and without additional updates – were IPv6-capable and what domains could be reached over IPv6. The list is not very big, however, so the fun with IPv6 did not last long for the inexperienced. Criticism was voiced that the web sites of IPv6 working groups were insufficiently IPv6-capable. But some testers reported pleasant surprises, such as the suitability of individual Jabber clients for IPv6. The IETF plans to publish precise analyses in the coming days on the Wiki specially organized for the purpose, and elsewhere.
"IPv6 is perfectly feasible", said Lorenzo Colitti, who had worked feverishly on Google’s IPv6 page in the days before the IETF meeting. But Colitti remained silent about precise plans for Google. It could take some more time, he said, for the main page of the search engine to be ready. Following the IETF test Colitti said the IPv6 network was still fairly disorganised, "There's simply practically no one with really productive services for it". Although there was hardware and software, there were errors here and there when they were put into operation. Even at the interconnection points on the net, there was still a problem with IPv6.
On the whole, the test proves one thing above all: to actually put IPv6 into operation for the ordinary user will still need a lot of work by developers, administrators and the providers of hardware, software and connectivity. Observers say that in view of the rapid award of the last IPv4 blocks, some experts are getting cold feet.
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(Monika Ermert) /