IPv6-First Initiative

Putting modern networking first

IPv6-first approach

IPv6 is the latest version of the Internet Protocol. It expands upon IPv4 and makes the Internet a more global platform. Consider that IPv4 was initially developed for DARPA – an experimental, large scale network. In experimental projects, you typically never assume that the proof of concept you’re working on is going to shift immediately to production, but that’s exactly what happened. Then, in the 1990s, we came to the conclusion that we were going to run out of IP addresses with the current addressing scheme. We’ve attempted to prolong the exhaustion by introducing technologies like private network addresses, NAT, and CGNAT as several examples. The problems we’re facing today is that as IPv4 space is completely exhausted, and as more services come online, IP space is being rented like homes. As more address space is consumed, the higher the price goes to lease it and the more expensive operational costs become. This is why we have taken a dual-stack approach. Promoting IPv6 to be the primary connection for all of our services.

The Challenges

As we’ve put emphasis on deploying IPv6, we have been met with several challenges along the way. Some of them we are still working through internally.

  • Not all ISPs have deployed IPv6. We’ve noticed this more common in Europe.
  • Smaller ISPs (such as WISPs, regional cable, regional telecom, etc.) would rather implement CGNAT or even NAT (issuing CPE a WAN address from than add IPv6. These ISPs typically serve rural or small geographical locations.
  • Major service providers, including some of our direct competitors, “see no need” for IPv6, further driving up legacy costs and preventing others from adopting it.
  • A lot of operators are not deploying IPv6 correctly, treating it like a limited resource when it’s not. ISPs can receive a /32 prefix. This is 65,536 /48 prefixes. A /48 contains 65,536 /64 prefixes.
  • A lot of deployments are poorly routed, as well. For instance, a customer should be able to receive a /48 and use it how they wish. But a lot of times, the routing on the ISP side treats the /48 like a single network.
  • General resistance from people who don’t realize that IPv6 is a major version upgrade, not a “point release upgrade”. While a lot of compatibility is still there, there are a lot of breaking changes that require new knowledge and skills. Continuing education is important.
Graph of IPv6 adoption as of November 16, 2022

This is also not the complete list of challenges, either. And we’re affected by some of these challenges – mostly in part because we are a small business. We are trying to drive enough growth so we can justify the cost of ARIN fees and receive our own AS and our own /32 of IPv6 that we can implement properly. So while we know of these shortfalls and our own problems, we will correct them as soon as possible.

What we're doing and how we're doing it

We have been scaling back our IPv4 usage as much as possible. On legacy brands that have network operators who are increasing costs of IPs, we’ve been either migrating to new service providers or imposing IPv4 surcharges – directly passing the cost on to customers. Because of this, we have implemented IPv6-only deployments on legacy brands.

Our flagship brand, NodeSpace, has been steadily deploying IPv6 and enabling it for all customers. Dedicated server customers are “pre-allocated” a /64 prefix and it can be enabled on servers at any time. This also means that we are utilizing IPv6 internally and re-configuring our internal and back office stacks to prefer IPv6 over IPv4. Our initial kickoff moved our cPanel shared hosting servers to IPv6, but due to the way cPanel currently functions, IPv4 is primary. However all sites can use either a shared IPv6 address or receive a static, dedicated IPv6 address. This is also available for our resellers.

Our goal is to have a 100% IPv6 deployment company-wide by end of Q4 2023. We’re currently at about 75% deployment.