Benefits of IPV 6

January 10, 2011

For months now, I have been researching on the evolution of  Internet Protocol Version 6 which Norwegian security analyst and long time friend Tommy Jacobsen branded as safer from web nasties than Internet Protocol Version 4 in use today.The number of addresses available under IPv4, of predominate protocol for routing requests between hosts on today’s internet, is dwindling rapidly. The IPv4 address pools are being depleted around June this year and there has been faster pace of exhaustion than was previously anticipated. The few remaining IPv4 addresses left to allocate won’t be cheap to obtain because of an endless demand for network addresses at present.Migration between IPv4 and IPv6 will be done by Internet service providers. To be precise, the Internet does not stop working when we run out of unallocated IPv4 addresses, but its future growth is zero without IPv6 uptake.The Internet is the network which connects computers together and web is a major application of the Internet where you view when launching your browser and look at websites. Fact is that we are running out of Internet addresses/ IP addresses. For computers to communicate on the Internet they are assigned a unique IP address. What many people don’t know is that your router or modem at home or in the office has an Internet protocol address.

The same case applies to every website and email servers and even that mobile phone has an IP address. Luckily for Mac user like me your Mac address is part of your IP address in IPV6.The current IPv4 has set of numbers that are indexed logically numbering a limited figure of four billion. In recent years there has been an upsurge in Internet devices and that the reason we are running out of available addresses. However, the IPv6 uses different formats that allow huge number of Internet devices. One of the most important thing is that end user will actually see no difference between the two. A good example is a website with IPv4 address can read like this http://56.98.49.27.With such it would be hard to a normal internet user to remember IPv4 addresses and that’s why we use domain names like www.contadorharrison.com.From there the domain name checks a domain name system server, then finds out the internet protocol address which helps navigates user to the desired website. Over the past year or so countries like China, India and Brazil have been progressively deploying mobile and wireless services on a large scale. There is plenty of publicity around the world on IPv4 address exhaustion but I wonder why many haven’t shifted to IPv6 by now.According to Jacobsen, this is a result of deregulated business environment and the inability of the market to adequately encompass transition models into business plans. There is faint hope that we’ll avoid address exhaustion disaster. Presently, estimates shows that less than 4 per cent of Internet end-users could reach an IPv6-only site in developed countries while less than 0.02% in developing world. Unfortunately, very few people know about this.

Few years back, Network Address Translation was mooted as an alternative to the problem but industry experts were not convinced that it was the answer. Jacobsen points to a problem with NAT that’s often overlooked especially on port exhaustion. The two protocols UDP and TCP/IP most commonly used for Internet data communications have 65,536 ports for each IP address. The Norwegian explained to me via email that once users’ computers and devices are behind network address translation, they have to share the ports. Recent data in my possession shows that even the average user can chew through over 900 ports without even thinking or knowing about it.Well known applications like Google Maps open up one port and then TCP/IP session for each map tile. If the network session cannot open ports for data traffic, it will eventually time out. The need to shift to IPv6 is now really urgent because there should’ve been a gradual migration to it starting a decade ago and that’s the reason bulk of the internet is currently based on a protocol called IPv4.

The majority of Internet service providers around the world have yet to turn to IPv6 and it’s widely known the two protocols cannot talk to each others.Users of IPv4 will need either new equipment or a software upgrade. As you read this, if you don’t do upgrade time is coming when you may not be able to reach the rest of the world on IPv6.This is a business issue relevant to every company that uses the internet to do business.There are several reasons for switching to the new model. IPv6 increases IP address size from 32 bits to 128 bits.IPv6 as well supports more levels of addressing hierarchy and greater number of addressable nodes with simpler auto-configuration of internet protocol addresses. Also, a new capability is available on IPv6 to enable the labeling of packets belonging to particular traffic for which the sender requests special handling.There is also the header format simplification is said to be the reason IPv4 header fields have been dropped or made optional in order to reduce the common-case processing cost of packet handling and limit the bandwidth cost of the IPv6 header. Changes in the way Internet protocol header options are encoded allows an efficient forwarding with less stringent limits on the length of options and offers greater flexibility for introducing new options in the future. When those times come people will ask themselves why their new smart devices are not working and to avert the looming crisis internet service providers should educate internet users in advance on IPv6

Contador Harrison