As you probably already know, today is a very special day on the InterWebs. The 68th anniversary of the D-Day invasion? Well, yes, but that's not what I'm talking about. The 79th anniversary of the first drive-in theatre? Not that either.
Today -- 6.6.12 -- has been officially designated World IPv6 Launch day, making it the second nerdiest holiday on the planet after Pi Day (March 14, or 3.14). Break out the champagne and prepare for, well, not a whole lot.
[ Also on InfoWorld: Kick off the festivities with Ted Samson's security warning for would-be IPv6 adopters and Matt Prigge's handy IPv6 checklist. | For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter. | Get the latest insight on the tech news that matters from InfoWorld's Tech Watch blog. ]
For Joe and Jane Internet User, the change will be a nonevent. For ISPs and large enterprises, however, IPv6 will be huge. Among other feats, IPv6 will boost the number of available IP addresses from roughly 4 billion under IPv4 (more than 90 percent of which are no longer available) to 340 trillion trillion trillion (not a typo typo typo). That's like moving from a cramped one-bedroom condo into the Taj Mahal. But these addresses are not for you and me so much as our gadgets: PCs, phones, tablets, TVs, toasters, and toilets, all of which are or soon will be communicating with each other over the Webbernets.
IPv6 also brings some long-needed speed, security, and quality-of-service improvements. That's another reason why the Googles, Facebooks, and Microsofts of the world have turned up their IPv6 knobs to 11. Some 70 percent of U.S. websites are now accessible via IPv6, according to the World IPv6 Launch site. Additionally, Cisco Linksys and D-Link have both announced that from this day forward all network routers sold to consumers will be IPv6-ready.
But considering that the "new" Internet Protocol is more than a decade old, the adoption rate hasn't exactly been humming along. A survey of the world's largest ISPs by Nominum, which provides DNS solutions for the service provider industry, shows that only about a quarter of them have upgraded to IPv6 already, with another 35 percent planning to do so by year end. The rest will eventually get there, though not before 2013.