Know about IPv6 and IPv4

Posted on June 15, 2012 by Nikhil P Naik

The world is beginning to change but you might not yet notice the change. As the depletion of IPv4 IP addresses causes concern amongst some chief technologists of the internet community, so comes the hero, the beacon in the encroaching darkness of a shrinking IP pool. IPv6 (!) has become mainstream as of 6 Jun 2012 meaning that the internet world will live for another day!

The above sounds a little bit dramatic but in honesty the IPv4 problem is indeed a legitimate problem and one which potentially has a bigger effect on the progression of the internet than any legislation can ever have. To understand the severity let’s take a look at the problem.

What is an IPv4 IP address?

IP addresses act as essentially a postal address for any device that is connected to a network and communicates using the internet. From laptops, mobile phone devices to tablets and even internet radios and printers, many devices use variations of IP addresses that typically following the IPv4 version of an IP address.

They look a little bit like this: 192.68.253.1

Put simply IPv4 addresses consist of four decimal numbers, each ranging from 0 to 255, separated by dots.

So in lies the problem: as the number of devices that require IP addresses increases so too does the possibility of running out of these addresses. The size of IPv4 addresses is only 32bits – as such it can only support a maximum of 2^32 addresses. This might sound like a lot but in reality the requirement for addresses has forced the pool into depletion.

And IPv6?

So what about IPv6? The major advantage of IPv6 over IPv4 is its large address space which allows for a much richer variation in address. Firstly the address size of each IPv6 are hexidecimal and 128 bits so the world can expect 2^128 new addresses, which seems to be more than enough to serve the growing demands of Internet usage. Here is an example:

2001:cdba:0000:0000:0000:0000:3257:9652

Which could be accessed by http://[2001:cdba:0000:0000:0000:0000:3257:9652]/ much in the same way as standard IPv4 addresses.

As IPv4 has run out of available address spaces, most websites and Internet service providers are now changing to adapt IPv6, which offers a near endless number of available addresses.

IPv4 also suffers with another disadvantage, which is its poorly distributed address space. It is estimated that approximately 14% of all the available addresses in IPv4 are not utilized at all. However, the long addresses in IPv6 make the address allocation much simpler, and make way for efficient route aggregation, as well as implementation of specialised addressing features. This tells you how IPv4 and IPv6 are different from each other.

The new Internet Protocol also promises better network management and routing efficiency through large sub-net space and hierarchical route aggregation.

World IPv6 Day

IPv6 Day

Considering the significance of IPv6 in the context of new Internet age with regard to unlimited address space, and other advantages, The Internet Society ( a global cause-driven organization, which is the world’s trusted independent source of leadership for Internet policy, technology standards, and future development) worked together with many huge ISP companies and online organisations and arranged for switch from IPv4 to IPv6 the world over, and scheduled the “World IPv6 Day” on June 8, 2011.
On that historic day, leading websites and Internet service providers, all over the world, including the Internet big-wigs like Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, Akamai and Limelight Networks, etc. joined hands with more than 1000 other participants of World IPv6 Day to ensure a successful global-scale trial of the new Internet Protocol, IPv6.

With a coordinated 24 hours ‘test flight’, the event was a huge success and demonstrated the fact that most of the major websites around the globe are well-positioned to take the plunge into Pv6 for good. Further, with its organized approach, the event not only promoted the new technology of IPv6 well, but it also managed to collect several articles, presentations and videos from all corners of the world that discussed IPv6 in greater detail and showed the true potentially and relative ease of migration.
Around the same time when World IPv6 day was scheduled, the global free address pool of IPv6 was also officially depleted. The popularity of IPv6 could not be denied – the allocation of the IPv6 free pool was one of the reasons of the soaring success of the event, which gave evidence to the fact that the Internet world is ready to move on to the next generation Internet protocol, IPv6.

More recently on June 6, 2012, the world witnessed World IPv6 Launch, an event organised by The Internet Society. With several primary ISPs, vendors selling home network equipments, and online companies synchronising to enable IPv6 for their services and products on a permanent basis, this day has marked a new major milestone in the Internet domain. In the past there were hesitations about this transition, but now the world is ready for this change with all manner of companies – from UK based cloud hosting companies to search giants – pledging their support.

The event was aptly named as “This Time It Is For Real”, wherein several Internet service providers (ISPs), firms manufacturing home network equipments, and online companies all over the world are permanently enabling IPv6 for all their services and products, marking a new beginning in and ensuring the future of the Internet era.


This article was created on behalf of Elastic Hosts – supporters of IPv6 implementation and suppliers of elastichosts

Image source – pierofix

About Nikhil P Naik

Nikhil Naik has finished his graduation in the field of IT and is currently mastering at the University of South Florida. He also loves watching cricket, listening to music and travelling. Twitter Handle - @buzz_nikhil.

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