IPv6 and Why Your CDN Should Have It

IPv6 is a topic coming up more often nowadays, and rightfully so. By 2020, the number of connected devices worldwide is expected to reach 50 billion. Every car, house, and person will be connected on a global scale. To achieve this smart, interconnected vision of future, we need an infrastructure capable of supporting billions of devices and enormous quantities of data. IPv6, the most recent version of the Internet Protocol, represents the modern Internet that will shape how we interact with one another and conduct business in the upcoming years.

What is IPv6 and Why is it Important?

Even though IPv4 is the fourth version of the Internet Protocol, it was the first version adopted on a massive scale, provisioning around 4 billion unique addresses. The problem is that the ARIN region, which includes the United States, Canada, and countries in the Central America, has already run out of available IPv4 addresses, and Africa is expected to exhaust its allotment by 2018, according to Cisco, a global leader in telecommunications equipment.

Without available IP addresses, data has to be transferred through constrained Carrier-Grade NATs, which are really just a temporary relief for a much larger underlying problem. Not only do carrier-grade NATs breaks the end-to-end principle, but they also introduce significant security risks, and make record-keeping for law-enforcement operations more difficult.

The good news is that the adoption of IPv6 is steadily rising. IPv6 currently accounts for nearly 14% of total Internet traffic, and that number is expected to grow to over 34% by 2020. Furthermore, 90% of smartphones and tablets will be IPv6-capable by 2020, up from 60 percent in 2015. You can clearly see the increase in IPv6 adoption when you take a look at Google’s own statistics, which measure the availability of IPv6 connectivity among Google users.

So, how does IPv6 tie into your global content delivery strategy, whether it be your website/app assets (js, css, html), images/photos, or video streaming (VOD, OTT/IPTV), and what does all this mean for you?

Below are 5 reasons why you should be paying more attention to IPv6, and why your next Content Delivery Network (CDN) should be IPv6-capable:

1. IPv6 Mobile Benefits

According to the Mobile Traffic Q1 2016 report from Ericsson, a multinational networking & telecommunications equipment and services company headquartered in Sweden, “Total mobile data traffic is expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 45 percent.”

This rise is caused by the ever-increasing number of smartphones and GSM-capable smart devices. As people start to embrace the Internet of Things on a massive scale, the growth rate of mobile data traffic will skyrocket. It’s no surprise that mobile carriers are pushing for the adoption of IPv6, a technology that would allow them to easily accommodate users with multiple devices and provide them with fast, stable internet connection.

In the USA, T-Mobile’s IPv6 traffic exceeded 53 percent, and over 66 percent of connections from Verizon went over IPv6, reports PCWorld in their article about IPv6.

And it’s not just a game of numbers either. Those connected through IPv6 experience a tangible performance boost. According to Facebook, mobile devices using IPv6 load the News Feed 20 percent to 40 percent faster than devices that connect through IPv4. The performance benefits can increase even further if you factor in the boost provided by a well-optimized Content Delivery Network (CDN).

2. IPv4 Mobile Exhaustion Strategies

With available IPv4 addresses becoming scarce or completely non-existent, providers are forced to adapt by implementing various band-aid technologies, including DNS64/NAT64 and 464XLAT. Such technologies essentially serve as translators, allowing communication between IPv6 and IPv4 hosts. Consequently, they introduce extra complexity to the network, resulting in additional latency and decreasing the overall service quality.

To implement these transitional technologies, carriers are forced to invest large sums of money in equipment that basically serves as a life-support for the dying IPv4 technology. Consequently, managers and CFOs look for ways how to reduce expenses, which is usually done by cutting corners and privately disclosing that they operate these services in a “good enough to not get too many complaints” manner.

By contrast, IPv6 connections from IPv6-enabled handsets in IPv6-enabled networks to an IPv6-enabled CDN never involve these kinds of translation layers, resulting in superior performance.

3. IPv4 Wired Exhaustion Strategies

Similar to the situation with mobile data growth described above, the inevitable growth in subscribers and the desire to no longer maintain a dual-stack IPv4/IPv6 network will eventually lead wired network providers to also transition their IPv4 network connections to pure IPv6 networks.

Maintaining both technologies side-by-side will seem like an unreasonable investment, given that the Internet of the future is clearly powered by IPv6 and backed by Content Delivery Networks running on the same protocol.

4. IPv6 Security Benefits

With IPsec as a major protocol requirement, end-to-end security is built into the core of IPv6. IPsec is a protocol suite for secure communications that works by authenticating and encrypting each IP packet of a communication session using cryptographic protocols such as Authentication Header (AH) protocol, Encapsulating Security Payload (ESP) protocol, and Internet Key Exchange (IKE) protocol. “The specific information associated with each of these services is inserted into the packet in a header that follows the IP packet header. Separate key protocols can be selected, such as the ISAKMP/Oakley protocol,” says TechTarget on the technical aspect of the technology.

5. Quality of Service (QoS) Benefits of IPv6

According to Cisco, “Achieving the required Quality of Service (QoS) by managing the delay, delay variation (jitter), bandwidth, and packet loss parameters on a network becomes the secret to a successful end-to-end business solution.”

The developers of the IPv6 protocol implemented quality of service markings as the core elements of their network layer protocol. The IPv6 header has two QoS-related fields: the 20-bit Flow label, which is used by a node to label packets of a flow, and the 8-bit Traffic Class indicator, which is usable in DiffServ-based environments.

Today, the need for QoS is higher than ever, due to the increase of voice over IP (VoIP) communications, proliferation of mobile workforce, and always-on computing that serves as the foundation for many aspects of our personal and business lives.

IPv6 is the Future of the Internet

Those looking to stay ahead of the curve and participate in the early adoption of  technology that’s shaping the Internet of days to come will want to have their websites & apps IPv6-capable. One of the quickest and easiest ways to do this is via an IPv6-enabled Content Delivery Network (CDN).

Services like BelugaCDN, a high-performance dual-stack IPv4/IPv6 Content Delivery Network, automatically assign customers both A (IPv4) and AAAA (IPv6) records, allowing content to be served to IPv6-enabled devices over an IPv6 network.

With enterprise features for SSL/TLS and Video — suitable for online media publishers, advertising platforms, video streaming and IPTV/OTT providers — BelugaCDN offers its users an edge over their competition.

With a pay-as-you-go billing model and only 1¢ per Gigabyte transferred (with discounts available for volumes above 1 PB/month), customers are guaranteed the best blend of price and performance.

Sign up for an account today and get 100 GB/month free at BelugaCDN.com.