IPv4 maybe on its last leg with only a few blocks of IPv4 addresses available, computer estimates say that the IANA address depletion was January 27, 2011. Also the calculations for all central IPv4 pool addresses will be depleted by July 25, 2012. These are estimates and may change as of writing this post. I’ll be sure to update if needed, but the thing to understand is that IPv4 won’t be available within weeks if not months.
So what happens then? Well we move into IPv6 which has the capacity to hold 2^128th addresses that number is 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456. If you want to know what that number is called it is 340 undecillion, 282 decillion, 366 nonillion, 920 octillion, 938 septillion, 463 sextillion, 463 quintillion, 374 quadrillion, 607 trillion, 431 billion, 768 million, 211 thousand and 456 addresses. These address are in hexadecimal form and are 128 bits in length compared to IPv4 which is in a 32 bits in length.
One problem with IPv4 and IPv6 is they don’t get along, they are not backwards compatible. You can either go to IPv6, IPv4 or dual stack the technology. This can be a problem if computer industries did not make a plan beforehand and are now scrambling to implement IPv6. Experts have known that the IPv4 address space would run out the only issue was “when”. That’s why IPv6 was design in the 1990s.
To help companies test and configure IPv6 the Internet Society is helping to organize the World IPv6 Day. On June 8, companies like Google and Yahoo and distributors like Akamai and Limelight Networks will offer their services over IPv6 for 24 hours for evaluation and troubleshooting sessions.
What about users? Well if you have a recent operating system like Windows XP, Vista and 7 IPv6 is ready to go, if not already running on your computer. So your computer can handle it. The only problem is your Internet Service Provider and or DSL and cable modem. One test you can do is at this site http://www.test-ipv6.com/. It will be able to tell you if you can access both IPv4 and IPv6 sites or only IPv4 or IPv6.
Today at 9:30am Eastern Standard Time the Number Resource Organization (NRO), along with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the Internet Society (ISOC) and the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) will be holding a ceremony and press conference to make a significant announcement and to discuss the global transition to the next generation of Internet addresses. You can check out the live webcast at http://www.nro.net/news/icann-nro-live-stream
Personally I can’t wait for IPv6 it really is a totally different internet protocol and does have benefits in moving from IPv4 to IPv6. Like less overhead in the packet format and forwarding, and introduces a mandatory Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) which is optional in IPv4. These are some of the many improvements that IPv6 has in comparison to IPv4. Sure there might be problems with customers and service providers but if you ISP did their job you as a user should not even notice a difference.