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Wanted: IPv6 Beta Testers!

Eye-pee-vee-whatnow?

You don’t know what IPv6 is? In a perfect world, brilliant; you shouldn’t have to know! But sadly, due to the decades-old ‘supply and demand’ notion, too many ISPs aren’t taking notice of what is a very, very important issue for anyone that uses the Internet on a daily basis.

The reality is that ‘IP addresses’, in their current format (IP version 4) are running out.

IPv6 solves this problem. Unfortunately, customers knowing ‘what’ IPv6 is, is the key to raising awareness amongst ISPs around the world. IPv4, the now legacy Internet Protocol addressing scheme, is rapidly shrinking in availability. With stores of legacy IP addresses depleting fast, it won’t be long before only IPv6 addresses are available to ISPs and their customers.

This essentially means that when websites and mail servers are only available via IPv6 connectivity, you will be out of luck if your Internet access provider hasn’t yet provisioned IPv6 connectivity for you. Therefore it is now more important than ever to ensure that ISPs across the country (and indeed, the world) are concentrating on ensuring they can provide the same services via IPv6 as well as existing IPv4 connectivity.

This also applies to the companies providing your website hosting (such as 34SP.com), particularly if you happen to be a business owner. When we consider that China will be one of the first major areas with only partial IPv4 connectivity, that is an alarming number of end-user eyeballs that are unable to visit your website. After that? Australia, India, Japan… Unfortunately the common ISP argument in the UK is ‘we have enough IPv4 addresses to last for a long time‘ does not solve the problem. If you wish to view a site only available via IPv6, you need an IPv6 tunnel or native IPv6 connectivity — no amount of IPv4 addresses will help you.

(Tip: you can check your ISP’s readiness for IPv6 via a visit to http://test-ipv6.com!)

The APNIC region (covering all of Asia & Australasia) have only a few months before they’re out of IPv4 addresses with which to provide to ISPs within those areas. The individual ISPs themselves will take a little longer, but it’s no secret that IPv6 adoption in these areas is well ahead of the curve in Europe (and indeed, North America) due to the increased pressure on IPv6 requirements that they’re already seeing.

But what are 34SP.com doing about it?

34SP.com are doing their bit to stay ahead of the impending crunch, and intend to introduce IPv6 connectivity throughout our entire, current range of hosting products with as little delay as possible. As some of you more familiar with IPv6 may imagine, this presents a number of challenges; not least the poor support for IPv6 from some of our biggest providers — a situation that’s proven (and proving) difficult, not to mention costly, to circumvent.

However, after reaching a number of milestones (including more than a few late nights) we are now in a position to make a large step forward by providing ‘beta’ assignments of IPv6 addresses to Dedicated Server & VPS customers! Currently only those located in our London data centre are able to receive an assignment (those with IPv4 addresses within 80.82.112.0-80.82.123.255). Support for the same customers located in Manchester will be coming as soon as we iron out a few unknowns with equipment there.

The biggest caveat in this current beta programme, is support for Plesk. Until very recently there has been no official support from Parallels for IPv6 (despite my badgering them). Thankfully the very latest release (10.2) does include preliminary IPv6 support. However, we have had little time to test this fully since its release and will need longer to be sure that it is of the same quality as the current version that we support, 8.6.

It is for this reason alone that IPv6 support on shared hosting packages (such as Professional hosting or Reseller hosting) will take a while longer to complete. We’ll need to first look at the possibility of upgrading to Plesk 10.2 (from 8.6) and this will take time to achieve, given the complexities involved.

Despite this, if you’re interested in getting an assignment now, please drop an e-mail to support@34sp.com with a relevant subject and we’ll go from there. The more customers we have showing an active interest now, the better, so please don’t be afraid to try something out — even if you’re not sure you know entirely what to do just yet!

And what about IPv6 Day?

Good question! The official IPv6 Day, as explained on the Internet Society website, takes place on the 8th of June this year and will be a chance for big organisations across the world to show their support for IPv6, whilst testing the waters of IPv6 adoption on a global scale. Participants will include such big names as Google, Facebook, Akamai and also, yes, 34SP.com.

This means that, unless we experience any major disasters, June 8th will see a IPv6 DNS record (type AAAA) for www.34SP.com. We hope to provide some statistics on visits over the 24hr period to show just how many people can reach us via IPv6 and from which ISPs.

We will also likely add an IPv6-only ‘test site’ in the weeks leading-up to 8th June, though in the mean time if you’d like to know whether or not your Internet provider already supports IPv6 you can always visit http://test-ipv6.com. If for any reason the tests fail, you should contact your Internet provider and ask them what they’re doing about IPv6.

Both 34SP.com name servers will shortly be upgraded with IPv6 access to the Internet and we already support the provisioning of AAAA records via our zone files, so hopefully some of our customers will be able to join-in on the day too!

Where can I learn more?

If any of this has come across as jibberish or perhaps you’d like to learn more, there are a number useful of resources available online. Here are a few that I’d recommend taking a look at:

If anyone has any further queries as to the availability of 34SP.com products via IPv6, or if you wish to participate in the beta programme, please do not hesitate to contact us via support@34sp.com. We’ll be happy to provide any information that we can!

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