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IPv6 Web Domain Support Up 1,900 Percent in 2011

Domain registrar Go Daddy credited with spike in IPv6 adoption.

The U.S. government’s adoption of Internet protocol version 6 (IPv6), the next-generation Internet addressing standard, may be moving slowly to some, but the number of overall Web domains that support IPv6 is on the fast track — it’s up 1,900 percent over the last 12 months, according to a recent census.

The survey, conducted in October by protocol testing firm the Measurement Factory and sponsored by Infoblox, an automated IT network control solution provider, revealed that 25.4 percent of zones — part of the domain name hierarchy that can be delegated to others — under .com., .net and .org are supporting IPv6, as opposed to 1.27 percent in 2010.

The primary reason for the dramatic increase, is domain registrar Go Daddy’s adoption of IPv6, according to Tom Coffeen, IPv6 evangelist at Infoblox.

“One of the things we took away from the Measurement Factory’s results is that one registrar could have the ability to move the needle in such a dramatic fashion,” he explained, adding that there was also some regional uptake in IPv6 support.

Taking Go Daddy out of the equation entirely, the percentage of zones that support IPv6 increased more than twofold over 2010, to more than 3 percent.

When asked why IPv6 adoption rates aren’t quicker, particularly since IPv4 addresses are running out, Coffeen said he didn’t have a good answer. He did say, though, that he expects things to start moving quickly, particularly with the big domain registrars that want to maintain a competitive balance in the marketplace.

Coffeen maintained that in some ways, however, small and medium-sized registrars have an advantage when it comes to IPv6 adoption. Often, smaller companies can be more agile and make the change and support IPv6 fairly quickly, whereas larger registrars have to commit more time and resources to such a project.

“I think we all realize that IPv6 is happening, and in some fashion, in fits and starts, you are going to see the upward trend of IPv6 adoption will lurch upward dramatically at moments and the rest of the time creep up ever more determinably over time,” he said.

Methodology and Other Findings

The census results were culled from a random 1 percent sampling of 121.3 million .com, .net and .org Web domains from zone files obtained from domain registrars VeriSign and Public Interest Registry (PIR). The Measurement Factory tested IPv6 address records for DNS, mail and Web servers.

Some of the other survey findings included:

  • Slightly more than  2 percent of zones were served by mail servers that support IPv6
  • Less than 1 percent of Web servers in zones were IPv6-enabled
  • The top three countries in IPv6 adoption are France, the United States and the Czech Republic
As for what to expect in 2012, Coffeen said it’d be surprising if other major registrars did not respond to the census results in some fashion. He explained that organizations are now focusing on how to deal with IPv6 adoption, chiefly because network addresses are no longer freely available.

“Whether it is immediate IPv6 adoption or IPv6 adoption over the long term, or figuring out what strategy to avoid doing it for the longest time possible,” he said, “you still have to answer the question of, ‘What does this mean for my organization?’”

Miriam Jones is a former chief copy editor of Government Technology, Governing, Public CIO and Emergency Management magazines.