After years of preparation and teasing, IPv6 finally goes live today. IPv4 will now begin it's long slow death march across the wasteland of the Internet. In reality, it's a little more complicated than that. IPv6 and IPv4 will live in harmony for many years to come, but this newest iteration is something worth celebrating.
IPv6 is the response to a problem that's been in the making ever since the Internbet began - its exponential growth. In the beginning, there were only a few thousand IPs floating around and all was good. More and more people began to connect to the Internet in more ways than ever before. The 4.3 billion IP addresses afforded by IPv4 were no longer enough. IPv6 has been in the works since the early 90s to address the problem that we now face today.
With the launch of IPv6, a crisis has been averted. So how many addresses does IPv6 support? One would think maybe a few more billion addresses because the Internet isn't really that big, right? Well, the Internet is a constantly evolving network with more and more addresses coming online all the time. This is why IPv6 has been granted the capacity to hold 340 undecillion addresses. I could list in arabic numerals how large that number is, but I don't think you want to see 36 zeroes.
There's obviously enough room for all the IPv4 addresses currently in use as well any new IP addresses that will be assigned as we march forward towards progress. Of course, you may be wondering if the introduction of IPv4 is going to force you off the Internet until you switch over to IPv6. Worry not as we're all in this together and IPv4 will still work alongside IPv6 for years to come.
Just because IPv4 still works doesn't mean that you should just ignore IPv6. PCWorld caught up with Tri Nguyen at ZyXEL and he explained that IPv6 offers a host of improvements over IPv4 that should have many people wanting to make the switch. The biggest reason being security. IPv6 packets are encrypted thus making it harder to actually breach a network that's on IPv6.
Unfortunately, more secure just signals a challenge to those that launch attacks on Web sites. It was reported back in February that the number of DDoS attacks were beginning to rise on networks using IPv6. It proved that even the increased security of IPv6 could not stop all of the attacks, but security groups saw it as a perfect excuse to begin studying attacks on IPv6 addresses to develop new safeguards for the future.
Barring cyber attacks, you're probably liking the sound of this IPv6 thing. So what does a strapping young net savvy individual have to do to prepare for the switch? Absolutely nothing. You heard that right, folks. ISPs, Web companies and equipment manufacturers are doing all the hard work for us. They will be overseeing the switch to IPv6 so that you don't have to.
While everybody is going to have to switch over to IPv6 sooner or later, a number of companies are already switching over starting today. In our report yesterday, big players like AT&T and Google were listed among those that are fully embracing IPv6. Google has been especially proactive in regards to the switch by having Vint Cerf talk up the need for IPv6. You can see Cerf talking about IPv6 in the video below:
As you can see, IPv6 is not threatening in the least bit. In fact, it's the best thing to happen to the Internet since, well, the Internet. The best part about it is that we don't have to worry about it. IPv6 will be moved to new areas as needed. The only thing that people should be aware of is that any device or computer they buy should have support for IPv6. Considering that my laptop from 2004 has IPv6, the average consumer should be good.
It's an exciting time of growth and innovation for the Internet. IPv6 is just the newest expansion that will increase the speed and security of the Internet. It's these kind of innovations that make the Internet something to be protected from those who would rather limit it to protect their own interests, like the UN.