Published on February 6, 2014
IPv6 is the next generation Internet Protocol (IP) address standard that will supplement and eventually replace IPv4, the protocol most Internet services use today. Why It Matters An IP address is basically a postal address for each and every Internet-connected device. Without one, websites would not know where to send the information each time you perform a search or try to access a website. However, the world officially ran out of the 4.3 billion available IPv4 addresses in February 2011 . Yet, hundreds of millions of people are still to come online, many of whom will do so in the next few years. IPv6 is what will allow them to do so, providing enough addresses (2128 to be exact) for everyone and all of their various devices. A lack of Internet addresses would have caused many problems; your favourite web programmes would slow down, computers would find it more difficult to communicate with one another, and your privacy could be compromised because it will be hard to tell the difference between you and another computer user down the street. To allow the Internet to continue to grow and spread across the world, implementing IPv6 is necessary. Technology description IPv6 is the replacement for IP version 4 (IPv4), the Internet layer protocol of the TCP/IP protocol stack in prevalent use around the world today. IPv6 solves many of the problems and shortcomings of IPv4, providing an Internet layer protocol that can scale to the future needs of devices that will connect to the Internet. The most prominent feature of IPv6 is the use of 128-bit addresses (rather than 32-bit addresses), which allows for 3.4 × 1038 possible addresses, more than enough to handle today's needs and those of the foreseeable future. IPv6 is not backward compatible with IPv4. An IPv6-only node cannot communicate with an IPv4-only node. Therefore, a careful transition must occur from an IPv4-only network to a network that supports both IPv4 and native IPv6. As more nodes and applications on the network become IPv6-enabled, the majority of traffic on your network shifts over time from mostly IPv4 to mostly IPv6. This is the current goal of an IPv6 transition strategy. Due to the prevalence of nodes, devices, applications, and network management systems that support only IPv4 now, with few exceptions, the goal of your IPv6 transition strategy is to migrate from an IPv4-only network to a network that supports both IPv4 and IPv6 traffic, not to migrate to an IPv6-only network.