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With the long expected exhaustion of IPv4 addresses now a reality, in Asia Pacific at least, you'd expect the volume of Internet traffic using IPv6 addressing to be growing strongly, but it has in fact decreased in the last six months.

Arbor Networks conducted what it said was "one of the first studies of native IPv6 traffic volumes across multiple large carriers" in late 2010 and early 2011 in order to provide a benchmark against which to assess the impact of the World IPv6 Day planned for June 8.

In a report of that study, Arbor Networks' chief scientist, Craig Labovitz, said: "During the six month study period, IPv4 inter-domain traffic grew by an average of 40-60 percent. In marked contrast, IPv6 (both native and tunnelled) decreased by an average 12 percent, though the small volumes of native IPv6 more than doubled."

And the volume of IPv6 traffic, tunnelled or native, remains miniscule in comparison to IPv4. Labovitz said: "After peaking at 0.04 percent of all Internet traffic in August 2010, tunnelled v6 declined significantly through February 2011. Possible explanations for this percentage decline in migration of tunnelled IPv6 to native traffic and more efficient deployment of tunnels and encapsulation technology'¦ Overall, aggregate v6 volumes remained mostly constant over the study period between 0.1 and 0.2 percent of Internet traffic."

The study measured traffic through six large North American and European service providers that have deployed Arbor's Active Threat Level Analysis System (ATLAS), claimed to be the world's first globally scoped threat analysis network. It is based on Arbor Networks Peakflow AP anomaly detection platform that is installed in 70 percent of the world's service provider networks and monitors 80 percent of global Internet traffic, according to Arbor.

Arbor also made a breakdown of IPv6 traffic by application. Labovitz said: "We look at the top IPv6 applications in the six participating ATLAS deployments with native IPv6 telemetry. Not surprisingly, P2P [peer to peer] continues to dominate at more than 60 percent of all IPv6 traffic..At a distant second and third, Web and SSH both average 4.6 percent of IPv6 traffic'¦As a point of comparison, our ongoing analysis of IPv4 application traffic finds video (Netflix, YouTube, Flash) at a combined 40 percent and P2P representing only eight percent of IPv4."

World IPv6 Day is aimed at stimulating uptake of IPv6. According to Labovitz, on World IPv6 Day, "In a remarkable, first-of-a-kind global experiment...an Internet wide consortium of major carriers, vendors and content providers'¦will conduct the first global-scale trial of IPv6 with major content players including Google, Akamai and Limelight enabling native v6 on their servers'¦Providers around the world will enable IPv6 by default on most of the most popular Internet web sites and services use by hundreds of millions of consumers."

Labovitz said: "A major goal of World IPv6 day is the collection of Internet-wide IPv6 measurements and identifying major v6 connectivity and performance problems'¦Will the flood of IPv6 traffic result in network failures? Will operators and vendors discover new bugs in network infrastructure? We do not know will happen - that is why this V6 day experiment is so crucial."

He concluded: "Vendors and providers have spent years updating technology and testing IPv6 to ensure June 8th will go seamlessly. If all goes well, the vast majority of users will spend the day unawares of this global Internet infrastructure experiment."

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