With the ever increasing need to stay connected and the gamut of devices we use to help us stay connected, such as laptops, smart watches, and even a heart rate monitors, we’re running out of IP addresses, or the addressing system used by all things on the Internet.
Before we talk about IPv4, let’s quickly introduce you to an IP address. An IP (Internet Protocol) address is a series of numbers assigned to any device that’s connected to the internet. It consists of 4 chunks of 3-digits, forming a 12-digit numeric value that’s used to uniquely identify every connected device. For example, 172.16.254.1. This IP (v4) configuration system, in use since the 70’s, uses 32-bit addresses and accommodates 4 billion internet addresses, a number that was deemed unfathomable at the time!
We now connect to the Internet using smart phones, smart watches, smart TVs and even smart houses. These devices each have their own IP address, and as more devices are connected to the Internet, the capacity of IPv4 becomes even smaller and eventually will no longer be able to support them. It became evident that far more addresses were required to connect us to the Internet of the Future. IPv6 uses a 128-bit addressing system, and is designed to replace IPv4, and can handled 340 trillion trillion trillion internet addresses. To put this in perspective, if IPv4 were the size of a postage stamp, IPv6 would be the size of the entire solar system. Unimaginable, right? There are many benefits to using IPv6 too! For example, IPv6 is more efficient because it eliminates address conflicts common with IPv4, and it’s more secure because IPv6 encrypts traffic and checks packet integrity.
Are You Ready For IPv6?
Transitioning to IPv6 is inevitable because it offers far more addressable space to accommodate our growing list of devices, is more efficient and offers better security. It was built with device mobility and security in mind. Luckily, for most of us these changes will be transparent since they’ll be managed by large ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and hosting providers or the IT folks in your organization if needed.
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