Here at Infoblox, we’re gearing up for World IPv6 Day. Our appliances have supported IPv6 for sometime now, but we’d never gone to the trouble of providing services over IPv6, mostly for lack of demand. But we wanted to participate in World IPv6 Day, so we called around for carriers who could provide IPv6 connectivity.
Our IT guys decided to go with Cogent (one of the worlds largest Internet Service Providers, so they say), which already had a presence in our colocation facility and so could provide connectivity quickly. The cost was also very reasonable.
Once the connectivity was set up, IT asked Andy, one of our product managers, and me to test it, since we both have IPv6 networks at home. I’d set my connectivity up through Hurricane Electric using a free tunnel broker they offer, and so did Andy.
Well, try as we might, neither of us could reach the Infoblox web server via HTTP or ping6. Various web sites that check IPv6 connectivity could, however. And those same web sites could reach servers at my house and Andys. It didn’t make sense.
Until we did a Google search for Cogent AND Hurricane Electric.
Turns out these two ISPs have a long-running dispute over IPv6 peering, or free exchange of traffic. Hurricane Electric, commonly known as HE, would like to peer with Cogent, but Cogent refuses. HEs founder and CEO, Mike Leber, explained their position in an email message. He said they’d done everything but bake Cogenta cake in their attempts to persuade them to peer. And then they baked them a cake. (They did leave off the “e” in please, but I blame the bakery, and that’s hardly a reason not to peer.)
This might be just a minor dispute that coincidentally happened to affect our testing, but HE is a major player in IPv6. They entered the IPv6 game early, and partly because of the popularity of their free IPv6 tunnel broker service, they now operate the largest IPv6 Internet backbone in the world, connecting over 1000 IPv6 networks. Likewise Cogent is an enormous ISP, the second-largest carrier of Internet traffic. So the net effect is that there isn’t a single IPv6 Internet, but two (or maybe more): The one you can reach if you connect using Cogent, which doesnt include HE, and the one you can reach if you connect using HE, which doesn’t include Cogent.
There have been disagreements and brinksmanship over peering before, of course, but this one has the potential to taint peoples impressions of IPv6: If there’s not a single IPv6 Internet, why would I migrate off IPv4?
Lets hope Cogent and HE can overcome their differencesbefore June 8th. If they can’t, World IPv6 Day could be really embarrassing. Then again, maybe thats part of the idea.