Akamai's timing is ideal for U.S. federal agencies, which are required by an Obama administration mandate to support IPv6 on their public-facing websites and Web services by Sept. 30. Akamai's federal customers include the Department of Defense, the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Administration.
:We've had a number of government sites transition to being dual-stacked at Akamai," says Eric Nygren, chief architect for Akamai. "We're working with the rest of our government customers to help them" with the September deadline.
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Akamai says its April launch of commercial-grade IPv6 services is on target for when its government and enterprise customers will deploy IPv6.
"2012 is the year for the design-and-build phases around the world," Cucchi says. "We've been getting ready for this. Now the market is starting to take IPv6 seriously. ... By the end of 2012, we're going to see some real uptick in the percent of IPv6 traffic we see out there."
Today, only 0.5 percent of the Internet traffic that Akamai carries is IPv6. However, that will change come April, when Akamai moves out of its beta test program and announces full availability of its IPv6 services.
Akamai says it has run into some difficulty deploying IPv6 because IPv6 services are not available from all ISPs around the globe. Also, several major ISP networks are not peering with each other over IPv6, causing backbone routing issues.
"We're seeing a lot more backbone brokenness on the IPv6 Internet than on the IPv4 Internet. We're doing a lot to try to help," Nygren says, adding that some data center locations don't have IPv6 connectivity at all. "Using Akamai for IPv6 will be extremely valuable to [our customers] to help them deal with the brokenness. Their users will have a better chance of getting to that content if we're serving it up near them versus going halfway around the world."
Another problem that Akamai has run into is malware that takes advantage of IPv6.
"You can go make your website dual stack and add Quad-A records, and now malware will follow that Quad-A record," Nygren says. "It will start port-scanning your site or spidering your site and start attacking you over IPv6 if your [intrusion detection system] or firewall aren't set up for IPv6. We can help mitigate this threat by being between customers and IPv6-based attacks."
Akamai says its IPv6-based services will help protect customers from IPv6-based malware as well as IPv6 floods and distributed denial of service attacks.
"On our platform, we have this nice benefit of being a huge shock absorber," Cucchi says. "We not only translate IPv6 requests, but we only forward well-formed HTTP requests. Synfloods and IPv6 floods are all dropped at the edge of our network."
In related news, Akamai has committed to participate in World IPv6 Launch Day, a June 6 deadline for network operators to enable IPv6 on their public-facing websites and leave it on for good. Other Internet companies that have committed to launch IPv6 on June 6 include Google, Facebook, Yahoo and Microsoft. Akamai says its April launch of commercial IPv6 services will help companies and government agencies that want to participate in the June 6 event, which is being sponsored by the Internet Society.
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