What Is IPv6 And What Will It Do?
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Australia’s first large scale IPv6 hosting platform has hit our screens. But what is it?


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IPv6, known as the “next generation” of Internet Protocol is basically the new home for web addresses since the existing IPv4 is fast running out of space. IP addresses are the unique ID every device hooked up to the net has. (And without them we’re back to the filing cabinet and Encyclopaedia).

IPv6 web experts say will allow for vastly more addresses than previous – IPv6 has 340 undecillion IP addresses to be precise. That’s over 50 million addresses for every living person on earth.

And it safeguards us from running out of addresses as per IPv4, which used network address translation (NAT) to create subnets of unique ID’s which bought users time. IPv4 holds 4.3 billion web addresses but desperately needs more.

And with ‘6’ it looks like time is of the essence as we’re not going to run out of addresses this decade or even this century, Internode’s John Harris points out.

So basically, the changeover will future proof sites and ensure the predicted 50 billion smartphones,PCs and other devices by 2020 can be connected without hitting a wall, as per IPv4.

Google, Facebook, Yahoo and YouTube kicked off trialling the new protocol yesterday, which marked World IPv6 Day.

There have been previous tests in several European nations including Germany and locally, two Sydney schools, Waverley College and Wollondilly Anglican College are also to engage in trials. Every one in 2000 users may experience some issues, according to estimates.

“IPv6 is fundamentally about allowing the Internet to scale to meet the expectations and demands of a global population of 7 billion, coupled with increased expectations of how many devices are expected to be able to connect to the Internet,” says Matthew Ford, from Internet So-ciety, a group which promotes development of internet.

The simplest versions of IPv6 are eight sets of four characters eg 2406:a000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0000:0029.

So what do consumers and business need to do ahead of the changeover? Well, not much according to Harris.

Consumers should make sure new and existing routers and in particular network gear are IPv6 compatible. Larger businesses need to be more strategic since they generally update equipment every few years, so planning ahead is vital.

“ISPs will do the rest, provided they do it properly,” he adds.

Internode’s IPv6 trial ends at the end of the year and will then operate a “dual stack” arrangement, giving out both 4 and 6 addresses, since the two are not compatible.

Telstra are also running a similar dual arrangement although Adelaide based Internode were one of the first off the mark, and have been testing ‘6’ since 2009.

Testing will help expose potential issues with large-scale IPv6 use and will allow ISPs that support the protocol including Internode as well as website operators to work on any potential issues which may arise.

And if you think you can stay on IPv4 you’re sadly mistaken according to the hosting company, UberGlobal, who says the shift to IPv6 is “inevitable” who have just launched first large scale IPv6 hosting service for business users here.

Current applications which use or store an end user’s IP address might not be ready for an IPv6 address, which is significantly longer, warns the company who have been running the upgraded protocol since 2008.

“We’re not offering people a one day opportunity to trial IPv6, we’re offering people the opportunity to use IPv6 in an ongoing basis,” said Steven De Costa, UberGlobal’s Chief Marketing Officer.

“It’s an opportunity for website operators to ensure the inevitable shift to an IPv6 regime does not impact their business.”

Deploying IPv6 allows testing of connectivity between an end user’s site on a provider that supports IPv6 and the web site itself to ensure all applications function as normal.

 

Testing will also help website operators to ensure the inevitable shift to an IPv6 regime does not impact their business.