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IPv6 at Edge 2016

With the Internet transition from IPv4 to IPv6 now in full-gear, the topic of IPv6 was raised in number of forums at the Akamai Edge conference this week.

In a keynote on Wednesday morning, Ash Kulkarni mentioned how enabling delivery of sites and content over IPv6 by default is one of the ways that Ion 3 helps accelerate mobile performance, aiming to improve the user experience and resulting business metrics.

Facebook's Paul Saab spoke later in the day about how they are using IPv6 to improve user experience and scale their data centers.  Paul described controlled A/B experiments he performed that showed IPv6 to be 15% faster on average for devices connected to mobile networks in the US, with some device models showing even greater page load time improvements. He went on to talk about how Facebook converted their datacenters to be IPv6-only internally to allow them to scale better, and how the Terragraph wireless system for deploying high-speed Internet into dense urban areas has been designed to be IPv6-only from the ground-up.

After Paul's talk, I spoke about where the Internet is with the IPv6 transition, the compelling reasons to not wait to make content available dual stacked with IPv6+IPv4, as well as highlighting the changes sometimes needed on origin servers before dual stacking at the Akamai Edge.  Measurements using Akamai's RUM system have also shown measurable performance improvements for US mobile users from dual stacking content. Since my last blog post in June, IPv6 adoption has also continued to grow rapidly in many parts of the world.  Over 58% of requests to dual stacked sites from US mobile users now show up over IPv6, with this growing at an accelerated pace since the iOS 10 launch.  Other mobile networks such as Reliance Jio in India and Rogers in Canada have also been rapidly turning up IPv6 deployments to their 4G mobile users over the past few months.  Taken together, the performance benefits of IPv6 combined with the rapid growth of IPv6 deployment around the world (see figures below) means that there is value in acting now.  Akamai customers also continue to make more content available over IPv6, with tens of thousands of hostnames from over 700 customers now being dual stacked.  Akamai's Property Manager also now defaults to dual stack when new hostnames are configured.

Akamai's IT staff even worked with our hotel venue to get IPv6 enabled on the Edge 2016 conference network, so if you attended you were likely even using IPv6 to connect to Internet sites without even realizing it.

Both Paul and my talks ended with take-away encouragement to customers to both make sure that they have an IPv6 roadmap, to build new technologies with IPv6 from the start avoid incurring more technical debt and future migration risk, and especially to start switching existing content over to IPv4+IPv6 dual-stack client-to-edge to help improve your user experience.

IPv6 Edge 1.png

 Three years of IPv6 growth from select networks

IPv6 Edge 2.pngThree years of IPv6 growth from top countries