Jul14
End of an era

The End of An Internet Era?

Posted by Sarah Holt

Even if you’ve never heard the term IPv6 before, you’ll need to know about it pretty soon…

You might not know it yet, but the world is running out of IP addresses, specifically IPv4 addresses. These are the ones that are set up like this 123.123.123.123. The shortage is due to new use and expansion of the Internet, and that simply isn’t going to slow down. You might have already heard of the Internet of Things. This phrase refers to the growing connections between computing devices. What this means is that a sea change is coming.

Many Internet service providers and other companies are dealing with the problem by making the switch to using network addresses, which share one IP across a network, instead of each device using its own. This allows for the conservation of IP addresses, but is doesn’t necessarily address the ever growing need.

That’s why IPv6 has been created. It’s essentially an upgrade of the system from IPv4. Within the variations of  IPv4, just over four billion addresses can be accommodated. That’s enough addresses for about 60 percent of the people on earth to have one.

IPv6 on the other hand accommodates almost 80 billion billion billion (yes, three billions) times more addresses than IPv4. That means each person on earth could be allotted millions and trillions of IP addresses each. So, we’re not likely to run out of those any time soon.

Do why haven’t we switched to IPv6 yet? Since we have this problem on the horizon and we have an obvious solution, what’s the holdup?

The roadblock that’s stopping the switch to IP version 6 from version 4 is that much of the software that networks and the Internet run on doesn’t support IPv6 yet. Even though IPv6 has been around for a few years now, the formal switch hasn’t happened yet.

So what’s this got to do with you and your business? Is this a new Y2K? Should you be hoarding food and fuel in preparation for the end of IPv4?

The good news is, there’s no reason to panic. For a single Internet user, not much is going to change. Most of the needed preparations are already underway by system administrators and IT departments around the world.

However, to get yourself sitting pretty for when the change does happen, you need to keep several simple things in mind…

1. Make sure any new device you purchase is IPv6 compatible.

2. Check your software and make sure it is IPv6 compatible. If upgrades are required to be ready apply them as soon as possible.

3. Wave goodbye to your IPv4 address and take down your “127.0.0.1 SWEET 127.0.0.1” cross-stitch. Once IPv6 rolls out all IPv4 addresses and memorabilia will become instantly obsolete.

 

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About Sarah Holt

Sarah Holt is a journalist and author. Her work has been published in the Guardian and The Observer, among other places. After hours, she’s a bookworm, a chocoholic, and a serial bubble bath taker. She’s addicted to travelling and spas. Her philosophy for life is live and let live. You can tweet her at @sarahholt01 or find her on Google+.

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