Ben Hatton Making the Move to IPv6

March 14, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

IPv6

Data Cave fully supports the IPv6 protocol. (Image courtesy of digitaltrends.com)

We are excited to announce that Data Cave now fully supports the new IPv6 standard for Internet traffic routing. The need for IPv6 has been growing in importance over the past several years, as the world edges closer to running out of the old IPv4-based IP addresses for devices and networking equipment. IPv6 will inevitably become the primary protocol for all IP addresses, so having the infrastructure in place to support this standard is definitely a big deal for us as well as our customers.

Some history on the old IPv4 format

IP addresses as we have traditionally known them follow the 32-bit IPv4 format. An IPv4 address has a structure we are all familiar with:

123.45.243.93

These IP addresses have served as the identifiers for all network-connected devices for the past several decades. However, due to the limited number of possible IP addresses that use this format (approximately 4.3 billion), a shift towards the more expandable IPv6 format has been occurring over the past several years. While 4.3 billion may seem like a big number (it is!), with the ever-increasing volume of servers, mobile devices, and other equipment requiring network connectivity coming into play, the supply of IPv4 addresses will soon be fully expended.

You can see just how real the shortage of IPv4 addresses is, by looking at the ARIN “IPv4 Countdown Plan”, located here. ARIN , or the American Registry for Internet Numbers, is one of 5 organizations around the world that is responsible for the distribution of IPv4 and IPv6 address space. For the past several years they have been monitoring the remaining inventory of IPv4 addresses, and rationing them as needed in a series of 4 structured “phases.” Out of these 4 phases, we are currently in Phase 3. Once this phase ends and ARIN proceeds to Phase 4, the distribution of the remaining IPv4 addresses will involve even stricter requirements than before for organizations wanting to obtain them. Then, the end of Phase 4 will mark the full depletion of IPv4 addresses. As you can see from this, the depletion of IPv4 addresses will happen very soon.

This is where the new IPv6 standard comes in.

IPv6: An exponential increase

While IPv4 addresses have a size of 32 bits, addresses under the IPv6 format have a 128-bit size. Here is an example of how these new IP addresses are structured, so you can see the difference:

2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334

As you can see, IPv6 addresses are much larger and more varied than the old IPv4 format. This is what allows for IPv6 to be so much more expandable than IPv4 (keep reading to find out just how much more expandable).

I won’t go into the exhaustive task of covering all of the technical factors that make up the IPv6 format (but you can check out this Wikipedia page if you’re interested!), but I do want to stress the benefits that IPv6 has. Namely, this standard allows for a huge increase in the possible number of IP addresses that can be used for network devices. How huge? I’ll attempt to illustrate it below:

IPv4 vs. IPv6

While 4.3 billion is itself a big number, it’s really just a drop in the ocean when you compare it to 340 undecillion. This unfathomable figure represents the total number of possible IP addresses that are available for network devices, through IPv6. This exponentially greater number of addresses ensures that we will never see an IP address shortage again.

What it means for Data Cave customers

Ultimately what this means for companies who choose Data Cave for their point-to-point Internet connectivity, is that it will help greatly when transitioning from IPv4 to IPv6. As businesses continue to grow and update their networks, they will always need new IP address allocations to ensure connectivity between all of their devices and the Internet, so having this support in place for the IPv6 standard will be very beneficial in the years to come. As we saw earlier, the transiiton from IPv4 to IPv6 is definitely not a matter of “if”, but “when.”

If Data Cave already provides Internet connectivity for your business, then you can begin taking advantage of our IPv6 support today. If not, then I would definitely encourage you to learn more about our Connectivity options!

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Comments

One Response to “Making the Move to IPv6”
  1. K Brinker says:

    The exponential growth in IP addresses is amazing and with the growth in malicious threats its good to know how this improves the technology spectrum. Thanks for this great resource!

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