Startup CloudFlare is turning the economics of IPv6 transition on itshead with a free cloud-based IPv6-to-IPv4 translation service that isavailable to Web site operators starting today.
Dubbed Automatic IPv6, the new service ismade possible through the use of proxies at CloudFlare‘s 14 data centresworldwide. The proxies translate incoming IPv6 traffic into IPv4 beforebeing sent to a Web site. The service also provides IPv4-to-IPv6translation services for new Web sites — particularly those in Asia –that are being built using IPv6 only.
IPv6: What you need to do now
IPv6 is the long-anticipatedupgrade to the Internet’s main communications protocol, which is knownas IPv4. Carriers, hosting companies and enterprises are migrating toIPv6 because the Internet is running out of IPv4 addresses. IPv6 is notbackward compatible with IPv4, so Web site operators must deploytranslation services or run both protocols if they want to be reachableby all Internet users in the future.
CloudFlare offers hosted CDN and security services, including deeppacket inspection aimed at stopping malware, spam and denial of serviceattacks. The company supports more than 100,000 Web ssites, includingbloggers, news sites and enterprises such as the government of Turkey.
“The mission of CloudFlare is to make the Web faster and safer,” saidMatthew Prince, CEO of CloudFlare. “We can stop [attacks] at the edge,before they get to a customer’s data centre. At the same time, we canauto detect resources on a Web page that are static, and cache those atthe edge. On average, we double the payload speed at a Web site andreduce the load on the Web server by about half.”
Prince said CloudFlare handles more than 15 billion page views permonth and supports more than 350 million unique Internet users. Thecompany offers an advertiser-based service that is free as well as aservice that is $20 per month and custom offerings for enterprisecustomers. Its business model is similar to OpenDNS, a free DNS service thatalso supports IPv6.
Now CloudFlare is bundling IPv6 translation capabilities with all ofits caching and security services.
“There will be no additional cost for this feature,” Prince said. “It’scheaper for us to run the traffic over the IPv6 network than the IPv4network, so there isn’t any additional, incremental cost for us.”
One benefit for CloudFlare is that its network infrastructure is brandnew and all of its routers and other network gear already support IPv6.So the company didn’t need to undergo the daunting upgrade that rivalssuch as Akamai are making to support IPv6.
“We realized six months ago, we were in a position to helporganizations that wanted to be on the IPv6 network but were not readyto make a substantial investment to upgrade their infrastructure,”Prince said. “What we’ve been able to do is make deploying IPv6 foryour Web presence as simple as one click. You keep your existing IPv4infrastructure, you push one button on our site, and we will announceyour IPv6 quad-A records. When a request comes from IPv6, we’ll be ableto handle it by our proxies … translate it to IPv4 and hand it off toyour IPv4 infrastructure.”
Prince added that he doesn’t think CloudFlare’s IPv6 translationservice is a “forever solution” but that it will buy companies time toupgrade the network infrastructure and data centres to support IPv6over time.
CloudFlare says it has around 10,000 Web sites that are beta testingits Automatic IPv6 service.
Prince added, “Our goal is to fix the most daunting problems theInternet faces. We have a very different business model than ourcompetitors.”