IPv6: the sky is not falling

By: Mark Leonard - 01/06/2011

Mark Leonard was appointed EVP, Infrastructure Services Unit (ISU) in January 2011, and is responsible for integrating the activities of Operations, Technology and IT. Mark joined Colt as Chief Information Officer (CIO) in February 2008. He has extensive experience of IT within the telecoms sector, having held the position of CIO at Vodafone UK, IT Director at NTL, and a senior management role at IBM Global Services.

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What an incredible successful story the Internet is! Nobody, not even the recognised “fathers” of the Internet, Vint Cerf and Bob Khan, would have ever imagined that the experimental ARPANET point-to-point link connecting the University of California Los Angeles to the Stanford Research Institute in the late 60s would grow to become the Internet, a universal network connecting more than 5 billion devices worldwide, generating billions in revenue and changing people’s lives.

This rapid evolution, impossible to predict almost 40 years ago, also exposed its limitations and led to a quick realisation that some radical changes would be needed in the core protocols that keep the Internet running: IP, BGP and DNS.

One such change is IP version 6. Put simply IPv6 is the next version of the IP protocol which became an IETF standard in 1998 (yes, that’s 12 years ago!). The main driver for this development was to provide an alternative to IPv4 as the address space exhaustion was already foreseen. The IPv6 address field allows for 340 undecillion (1036) addresses, or put differently, 56 billion-billion-billion addresses for every person on earth. That should be enough for some time!

For many years IPv6 did not receive much attention as IPv4 address depletion mitigation techniques like Network Address Translation (NAT) were successfully deployed. However, IPv4 address consumption has been growing steadily and believe it or not IPv4 address exhaustion is a reality today. IANA exhausted the global IPv4 address pool February 3rd 2011 and the APNIC was the first regional registry to use up their regional IPv4 address pool on the 15th of April.

The sky is not falling though. Despite a recent reaction to the IPv4 address exhaustion problem, there has been a lot activity in recent years and many service providers like Colt have been very active in preparing their networks, systems and products to support IPv6 as well as manage the IPv4/IPv6 coexistence and long-term transition.

The World IPv6 day on June 8th 2011 will be a worldwide awareness event where organisations of all types will be participating by making content available over IPv6 during that day. Colt will play an active role by enabling IPv6 access to our web site. Enjoy it!

In short, this is the story of IPv4 and IPv6 – are you able to tell us what Internet Protocol version 5 is and what happened to it?

Read also: upcoming Colt events related to IPv6 June 8th and June 14-15th.

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Richard Broadbent says

17/12/2012 3:30:20 PM |

IPv5 was a name to the experimental protocol ST2, which was just a streaming complement to IPv4, never even released for public usage but was an inspiration for some components in IPv6.

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