What is IPv6
You would have heard or read that “Internet will run out of addresses soon”. IPv6 is a protocol, long in the making, to prevent this problem.
The Internet operates by transferring data between two computers (or hosts or devices) in packets that are sent between networks; data transmission is specified by protocols. The two computers communicating require an IP (Internet protocol) address so that the protocol can identify the source and recipient system. This is the same protocol for communication between the multitude of devices today that need internet i.e. smartphones, tablet computers.
When IPv4 was developed, it was not envisaged that internet would be so widely used. IPv4 allows a 32 bit IP address and hence has 2³² (or 4.3 billion) possible addresses.
On 04 February 2011, the central pool of available IPv4 addresses managed by the Internet Assigned
Numbers Authority (IANA) was depleted when each Regional Internet Registry (African, American, Latin American and Caribbean, Asia-Pacific, European) received its last 8 (or 16.7m addresses). The five RIRs will continue to allocate IPv4 address space to their members until their pools of available IPv4 addresses are depleted.
IPv6 has long been in the making. IPv6 uses 128 bit IP address which allows 2¹²8 IP addresses. This is about 340 trillion, trillion, trillion possible IP addresses.
World IPv6 Launch on 6 June 2012 was intended to motivate organizations across the industry – including Internet service providers (ISPs), hardware makers, and web companies – to prepare for and permanently enable Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) on their products and services as Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) address space runs out.
Most home and small business users really only have one IP address on the Internet–the one assigned to the router that connects them to their ISP. The router in turn issues IP addresses internally to the devices that attach to it. With IPv6 every device can literally have its own unique public IP address.
What does this mean for you as an individual or a small business owner?
Review your infrastructure compatibility with IPv6
IPv6 does not implement interoperability features with IPv4, and creates essentially a parallel, independent network. Most ISPs will provide IPv4 alongside IPv6. The majority of users shouldn’t notice the increasing deployment of IPv6 at all. However, individuals and organisations must take stock of the equipment in their homes, data or network centers and determine whether it is possible to use it in an IPv6 environment.
Check whether your modem is IPv6 compatible. If your modem is supplied by your ISP, call your ISP to check whose responsibility it is to make sure that the modem is IPv6 compatible. If you use your own modem, check the manuals or with the manufacturer. If it is not IPv6 compatible, you will soon need a new modem.
Review your equipment replacement plan
Check your equipment maintenance schedule to see when all the non-compatible equipment is due for replacement. Ensure that during replacement, they are replaced with IPv6 compatible equipment.
Review your Software and Operating Systems compatibility
The vast majority of software and operating systems support IPv6 already, including the major web browsers. Wikipedia has a list of supported software and operating systems for your review.
If you have your own engineers who manage your network, check if they need to upgrade their skills.
IPv6 has been built from the ground up with security in mind. Many of the security features that were optional in IPv4 are an integrated feature in IPv6. IPv6 encrypts traffic and checks packet integrity to provide protection for standard Internet traffic.
Upgrade your website
If your website operates on IPv4 protocol and your visitors use IPv6 protocol, they might have some trouble viewing your website. Externally facing systems like Point-of-Sales systems, ecommerce portals, and corporate websites should take priority in ensuring that they are IPv6 capable.
Is this urgent?
As mentioned earlier, most ISPs worldwide will provide IPv4 in parallel to IPv6. The chances of users facing problems with the network are low. So you do not have to drop your critical business activities to take care of this. However, keep this transition on your plan of things to take care of.
You can test if you are IPv6 ready by clicking on this link.