Here’s something you may or may not have realized about IPv4 and IPv6.
An IPv4 IP address is comprised of four octets (8 bits), with each of those four octets capable of going from 0 to 255. And, by the way, it’s sheer coincidence that IPv4 has 4 octets; the two 4s are completely unrelated.
Now, multiply 255 four times and you get a massive number – 4,228,250,625.
This, dear reader, is the total number of available IPv4 addresses. Yet, we’ve already completely exhausted all 4.3 billion addresses.
Enter IPv6 which effectively takes us from the four octets of IPv4 to a staggeringly vast pool of 128 bits.
If you want to know how many addresses that is, I caution you - don’t try using your calculator; it might, well, go up in smoke! Why, you ask? Well, that number is 2 to the power of 128 OR 3.4 x 10 to the power of 38 OR, get this, 340 undecillions (or sextillions). To understand its magnitude, let’s just say there aren’t even enough stars in the universe to total that number!
To date, I’ve written twice about IPv6 and, at the end of my second piece, I promised that our next post would cover IPv6 compatibility and translation issues, so here it is.
The TCP/IP protocol works by exchanging packets/frames, usually no larger than 1500 bytes. Within a frame, there’s a header and a payload. The payload contains the information we’re actually transmitting; the header contains all the information related to the protocol, including the source and destination IP address. Since IPv4 uses 32 bit addressing, the IPv4 TCP/IP protocol only reserves 32 bits for it. This means, there is no space for the 128 bits of IPv6. In other words, if a computer tried to “talk” IPv6 within the same protocol where the receiving computer expects IPv4, all the information would be displaced by 96 bits and there’d be no way they’d understand each other.
In reality, things are actually far more complicated than what I’ve verbalized because the protocol itself, the content of those headers, has been redesigned. That said, this small example allows one to grasp fairly quickly how imperative it is that the two computers must speak the same protocol or they simply will not be able to understand each other; unless something in between functions as a translator.
Now, assume your computers are only able to understand IPv4 but here you are, browsing a website that has an IPv6 IP address; how will your browser communicate with that web server? Or, imagine you have a web proxy within your network, filtering all user web requests; and this proxy only understands IPv4; how will that proxy talk to the web server?
Going deeper into this case in point, every device and every application in your network would have to be able to communicate using both protocols since they’re not interchangeable. I can already assure the reader that a very large part of your devices, and most likely, all your applications don’t understand IPv6. If you’ve purchased a switch or a router recently, it’s very possible that the device can understand both protocols but the likelihood of you needing to upgrade most of your hardware (and soon) is very high. Also, since most of these devices are unable to translate between the two protocols, conversation happens either in IPv4 OR in IPv6, never a hybrid.
Enter Network Box’s NBRS 5.0, the OS which will run the new generation of Network Boxes.
This revolutionary platform allows for seamless simultaneous translation between the two protocols. Our next post will detail just how Network Box NBRS 5.0 solves the issues discussed above. Until then, have a productive week ahead.
In my previous post, we detailed why it was the beginning of the end for IPv4. Today, we’ll discuss the solution to this problem.
The standardization group IANA (or the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority), which collaborates with IETF (also known as the Internet Engineering Task Force), had long ago already prepared the new standard, IPv6 which goes from the 32 bits of IPv4 to 128 bits. If you want to know how many addresses that is, don’t try using your calculator; it may go up in smoke! Why, you ask? Well, that number is 2 to the power of 128 OR 3.4 x 10 to the power of 38 OR, get this, 340 undecillions (or sextillions). To understand its magnitude, let’s just say there aren’t enough stars in the universe to total that number!
Consequently, we hope, there’ll be enough IP addresses to go around for the next few decades; every device will have its own IP address, and we won’t run the risk of depleting the IP address bank any time soon – certainly not within my lifetime. We’ll also no longer have need of private IP addresses; a point which certain pundits believe is a positive thing. I could write a whole new blog post on this subject but for now, suffice to say I disagree. I don’t think you should have a different mailing address for every room in your house – that, in my view, is information regurgitation, which, in a world like the Internet, can be potentially so incredibly dangerous for your computers.
This year, the IPv4 address space has been officially declared exhausted – there aren’t any more IPv4 IP addresses to be assigned from IANA to the 5 regional internet registries (RIR). As a customer, you may be able to get an IPv4 for some time, for as long as your ISPs still have them, that is. Think of them like phone numbers in that you may get a recycled one; an IP previously belonging to another company that no longer needs/wants it. So hold off on pressing the panic button for now because IPv4 IPs will still be around for a little longer but be prepared to face reality, because soon enough, they’ll be gone for good and IPv6 will be the order of the day.
Those of us who already have IPv4 IPs will be able to keep and continue using them. In the
interim, though, ISPs will begin to assign also IPv6 IP addresses and slowly but surely start migrating everyone to this new address space. This will happen simply because they can’t afford to maintain the double standard for too long – it’s expensive; requires double equipments; and creates too many complications (for which we’ll eventually end up paying and in real dollars). Truth be told, I don’t know how long this process will take; for all we know, it might spread across a decade. We just know, with utter certainty that it will happen. We also know for a fact that your equipment must be able to deal with both protocols concurrently but here’s the kicker – they are completely incompatible. If your equipment is not designed to handle IPv6, it simply won’t understand it, period!
In the next post, we’ll discuss IPv6 compatibility and translation issues and what costs will be associated with any migration path.
If you open a command prompt and type “ipconfig”, you’ll probably find a long list of digits such as the ones above, which would look gibberish to anyone but techies. Those numbers are, in fact, an IP address, the address of a computer on a network. This is IPv4 – it’s the fourth version created by an international standardization committee known as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), and is the only one which has been adopted.
When IPv4 was created in the early 70s, few thought we would ever need more IP addresses. It was the world of mainframes and terminals; not many devices had IP addresses. But the scene quickly evolved with the 80s bringing forth personal computers, and the landscape became completely different.
Every time you connect to the internet, your ISP will assign one IP address to your company; this is a public IP address. If you want to be on the internet, you must have at least one public IP address. Think of it as your mailing address, if you will – it’s the way the rest of the internet locates you, and the way through which you find the rest of the internet.
To avoid rapidly using the entire IPv4 address space, IETF came up with the idea of private IP addresses – meaning that within your office network, IP addresses can be assigned and used in 3 ranges (192.168.x.x, 10.x.x.x and 172.16.xx through 172.31.x.x) and still kept internal; these became known as private IP addresses and they’re not found on the internet.
Since these are “private IPs”, every company can use them internally, and it doesn’t matter that they’re also being used by other companies; being internal to the company, there’s no risk of confusion. When each of these companies connects to the internet, they still use their own public IP address. Only now, they’re utilizing one public IP for the entire company rather than one per computer. This brought a great deal of public IP savings which allowed us to stretch the IPv4 lifespan for close to another 30 years. That said, each time a new internet connection is made, a new public IP is, likewise, used. DSL and cable have brought broadband into our homes so now every connected home has an IP address as well. Those factors accelerated the use of IPv4 once again. Meanwhile, cellular phones became “smart”, and wanted to be connected to the internet so they too required IP addresses. And, these days, so do cameras, DVD players, and any other “smart” device that is internet capable. So we went from a few mainframes in the early 70s, to billions and billions of devices today, all wanting to be on the internet.
At this juncture, it’s evident that IPv4 is no longer sufficient and the reasons why that is the case.
In our next post, I shall elaborate upon the various measures taken by IETF and IANA (the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) to resolve this issue, with the introduction of IPv6.