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Don't be left behind by IPv6 deployment, ISOC warns enterprises

They have the resources, the expertise and, though they may not realize it, the need -- but it turns out that enterprises are often the ones that don't yet have IPv6.

That's the finding of the Internet Society (ISOC) its latest report on IPv6 deployment, published five years after the organization began a worldwide push to deploy the new addressing protocol and almost 20 years after the protocol was defined.

Around 13% of the top one million websites is inviting IPv6 traffic today, it said, citing a Hurricane Electric analysis of data provided by Amazon.com. That figure rises to around 22% for the top 1,000 websites.

In 37 countries, IPv6 is used for over 5% of internet traffic, according to Google, which bases its estimate on traffic hitting its load-balancers.

In India the figure is over 20%. That's largely thanks to mobile network operator Reliance JIO, which uses native IPv6 in its LTE network and accounts for around 70% of all India's IPv6 traffic.

One area with massive adoption of IPv6 is the internet of things. "The standards for that are based on IPv6," said Fred Baker, a consultant for the Internet Society and author of the report.

"The bad news in IPv6 deployment is enterprise networks. Residential networks are moving along quite well. Mobile networks are approaching 100% utilisation of IPv6, or moving pretty strongly in that direction," Baker said.

In the enterprise, a big brake on deployment of IPv6 -- or anything new, for that matter -- is the installed base.

"They've been running IPv4 for 20, 30, 40 years, and they have something that works. Their inclination tends to be to say, if it isn't broken, why fix it?" he said. "It doesn't solve a problem they think they have, so they don't see a reason to go to the expense and effort."

But there are problems that a move to IPv6 can solve for enterprises, whether they realize they have them or not.

One is network performance. Facebook has found that IPv6 is 15% faster on average than IPv4 on US mobile networks, and according to the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) IPv6 seems to mostly have better performance.

As IPv6 deployment increases, the tipping point is approaching at which IPv4 traffic is tunneled over IPv6 rather than the other way around. Past that point, IPv6's performance advantage over IPv4 can only increase.