Contrary to what one particular former-senator said, the internet is not a series of tubes. Rather, the internet is more like a series of wires connecting each and every computer to a complex network where they can communicate and share information over vast distances.
While the TCP/IP protocol – the standard in which computers communicate with – revolutionized the modern world, the most prominent version of the Internet Protocol, IPv4, approached critical mass on February 3rd of this year.
While IPv4 definitely has limitations (4.3 billion IP addresses to be exact), there has been developments into different technologies to counter the oncoming storm. The most prominent is Network Address Translation (NAT) which essentially allows one IP address to route server calls to multiple different addresses on the same network, much like a receptionist routing calls to different parts of the building; the receptionist may have one telephone number, but incoming calls are routed through private extensions and outgoing calls are sent through only that one number.
NAT is a very good piece of technology to combat the dwindling supply of IPv4 addresses, but it is not a panacea. Thus, the IPv6 standard was born, which allows for a whopping 3.4×10^38 (340,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) internet addresses compared to IPv4’s 4.3 billion addresses. The problem is, IPv6 has been around for years! How come we haven’t switched over before we started running out of IPv4 addresses?
According to an article published in 2000, the problem with IPv6 deployment stems from three significant points:
- Costs and risks
- NAT is required to incrementally deploy IPv6, yet appears to eliminates the need for IPv6
- Inability to really use the IPv6 features effectively during incremental deployment.
However, the days of IPv4 dominance is numbered. World IPv6 Day (link) is tomorrow and companies such as Google, Facebook, and Yahoo are gearing up to test their content being served over IPv6 starting at 0:00 UTC to 23:59 UTC tomorrow.
So, the question remains: are you (and your ISP) ready for the next jump toward IPv6?
To test your IPv6 compatibility, there is a unique tool online to see if your ISP and software is compatible with IPv6 websites.
While the remaining IPv4 addresses allocated is slowly but surely being used up, IPv6 deployment and popularization will inevitably see a rise and eventually a complete replacement for the internet problem. Hey, if Facebook is going to IPv6, shouldn’t you?