Internet Protocol (otherwise known as IP) is the method by which devices connected to the internet locate and communicate with one another. Every internet-connected device–computers, smartphones, servers, cars, smart refrigerators, and so on–is assigned at least one IP address.
IPv4 was created in 1983, before the internet was ever global, and it is still the primary method of routing internet traffic between devices today. A public IPv4 address, such as the one assigned to your device, is composed of numbers and digits.
IPv6 is the most recent version of the Internet Protocol that is used to transport data in packets from one source to another across various networks. IPv6 is thought to be an improved version of the older IPv4 protocol because it can support a much larger number of nodes than the latter.
An IPv4 address can be any four-number combination ranging from 0 to 254. The massive increase in the number of devices coming online is beginning to tax the system. We're running out of options. We will eventually reach a limit, which will cripple the internet and prevent new devices from entering the market.
Network operators continue to be concerned about IPv4 scarcity. The Internet will not break, but it is approaching a breaking point as networks struggle to scale infrastructure for growth. The last IPv4 addresses were assigned to RIPE NCC by the IANA in 2012. The technical community has planned for the long-awaited run-out, and this is where IPv6 comes in.
The most significant impediment to IPv6 deployment is cost. It takes time and money to upgrade all the servers, routers, and switches that have relied solely on IPv4 for so long. While the majority of these infrastructure devices could theoretically be upgraded, many businesses prefer to wait until they are replaced.
The transition is underway, but for the time being, IPv4 and IPv6 coexist. According to Google, approximately 14% of its users access it via IPv6, up from less than 10% a year ago. The deployment progress varies by country. IPv6 is now used by roughly half of all users in the United States.
Regardless of the cost, the digital world is gradually shifting away from the inefficient IPv4 model and toward the more efficient IPv6 model. The long-term benefits of IPv6 are well worth the investment. Visit Assured Standard for more information on these IP versions and how to get cyber security while you transition.
Arthur Williamson graduated with a degree in Business and Management at the University of California, Berkeley. He is knowledgeable about what small and big businesses require to keep operations moving.