The web currently uses IPv4 as its addressing system and this allows approximately 4.3 billion addresses. Currently almost all of these are used so BT and many others are looking to switch over to IPv6.
If you are concerned that a few years down the line we will exhaust the addresses available from IPv6, I wouldn’t worry about it any time soon; the theoretical maximum is 340 trillion, trillion trillion.
Tests have been reported recently via the BBC’s technology news channel and a small number of members of the public were temporarily included in the network trial.
So what does this mean to you?
Well the average home owner will probably not notice, currently Google estimates 6% of all net traffic is using IPv6 and most ISPs mix the two addressing systems together. Really we need ISPs to move more quickly as the problems with IPv4 running out of addresses could have been avoided totally if the switch had taken place earlier. Launch day was way back in 2012.
When addresses are allocated in the future using IPv6, a homeowner who currently gets a single IP address can expect to receive a block equivalent to several networks worth and thousands of devices. Businesses will receive even bigger allocations that can accommodate tens of thousands of devices.
IP addresses will mix letters and numbers in 8 groups of 4 and will look like this: 2001:db8:1f70:999:de8:7648:6e8
This massive expansion in extra capacity will have to take place soon as it is estimated the current pool will be exhausted within a year. The expansion will also fuel the growth of “the internet of things” as large home networks can become a reality.
What should I be doing?
If you run an IT service for your company and need advice, IGC would be happy to help. You certainly need to be thinking about it in the same way as you would any service upgrade. Auditing your current capabilities is a good place to start and then that will drive an implementation plan.
Key items to identify are any legacy systems that cannot be upgraded, many systems will currently support both IPv4 and IPv6 so you will have a mixture of different capabilities. You can remove obstacles by knowing about your problem areas now.