IPv6 address information will be part of the root DNS server infrastructure but at least one DNS expert still sees some roadblocks ahead.
IPv6 adoption (define) has a key adoption deadline looming this year, but is still facing plenty of barriers to adoption. Key among them is this: IPv6 address information is not included in most of the root DNS (define) servers that power the Internet. This makes IPv6 to IPv6 connections a difficult proposition.
At a time when the current IPv4 protocol is running out of address spaces for Web sites, the barriers to IPv6 adoption need to be addressed, experts say.
Starting on February 4th, at least one of those adoption barriers will be addressed as AAAA records for IPv6 addresses are added to four of the key root DNS servers. IPv6 AAAA records are a key resource record type for storing IPv6 address information on DNS servers. The IPv6 AAAA additions were announced by ICANN at the end of December in an e-mail announcement by Barbara Roseman, general operations manager for Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, an organization working under the auspices of the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), and which is responsible for assigning new Internet-wide IP addresses.
The inclusion of the IPv6 records could make the adoption and operation of
IPv6 a more viable option for network operators.
For Paul Vixie, president of the Internet Systems Consortium and an operator of the F root DNS server and creator of the popular BIND DNS software, the ICANN/IANA move to IPv6 is a very good thing.
"This is one of the roadblocks to running an Internet device IPv6-only, and we're very glad to finally see this roadblock removed," Vixie told InternetNews.com.
Vixie isn't the only one that is enthusiastic about the ICANN/IANA announcement of AAAA for IPv6 on some root DNS servers. Internet service provider Verio is also keen on the move.
"The ICANN/IANA announcement of AAAA for IPv6 on root DNS servers is the first step toward having a worldwide IPv6-capable DNS system," Fred Clift, manager of VPS/MPS development for Verio, told InternetNews.com.
"Since the DNS system is distributed across thousands of organizations, nations, companies etc., this is the logical and much needed first step. In the future, a majority of the Internet will need to be reachable via IPv6; the ICANN/IANA announcement is part of the progression towards this."
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Though the issue of IPv4 address exhaustion is well known in the tech industry, adoption of IPv6 for networking traffic has been slow to date. A key driver in the US in 2008 is a federal government mandate to enable the government network for IPv6 by June of 2008.
Among the many challenges facing IPv6 adoption though is the distributed nature of both DNS and the Internet itself.
"IPv6 adoption is like the classic chicken-egg circle, where if ISPs would make IPv6 available to their customers, hosting companies and major Websites might make their sites work with IPv6, and vice versa," Clift commented.
Vixie said the challenges to adoption of IPv6 are also technical. He noted that all of ISC's public facing services, including its DNS services, are dual stack
IPv4 and IPv6, and have been for several years.
"We are a classic early adopter and also, in the case of IPv6 DNS services, an early specifier implementor," Vixie said.
The ISC does not have an official position on IPv6 barriers, but Vixie's view is that the IETF has dropped the ball on IPv6.
"The original IPv6 goal sheet said that it would be fully interoperable with
IPv4 and that an incremental upgrade would be possible such that the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 would be soft and there would be no flag day,"
Vixie said. "None of those promises have been fulfilled."
Rremoving roadblocks to IPv6-only Internet access is important, he added, but so is the issue of how other players upgrade, too.
"No one can be IPv6-only until everybody else is dual stack, IPv4 and IPv6,"
Vixie explained. "Meanwhile the economic model is inverted, such that deploying dual-stack (IPv4 and IPv6) brings no benefit to the deployer, it only benefits the community."
Vixie argued that the only reason people will deploy a dual IPv4 and
IPv6 stack is to deal with the looming shortage of new IPv4 address space.
That's why everybody wants to use IPv4 for as long as possible.
"No one wants to abandon it (IPv4) and adopt the higher cost of dual stack or IPv6-only until everyone else is forced to do the same," Vixie said.
"This isn't a particular barrier it's a general malaise, having its roots in the impedance mismatch between IPV6 technology and internet economics."
VeriSign, which operates a key part of the DNS structure was not immediately available for comment.
This article was first published on InternetNews.com.