Internet Protocol (IP) addresses are the unique numbers assigned to every computer or device that is connected to the Internet. Among other important functions, they identify every device connected to the Internet, whether it is a web server, smartphone, mail server, or laptop.
The current IPv4 standard was introduced in the 1980's and back then, no one could have predicted that just 30 years later, almost all 4 billion IP addresses would have been used up. Fortunately this problem has been known about for many years and most vendors are geared up to switching over to the new IPv6 protocol.
IPv6 is the next generation of IP addressing and is designed to account for the future growth of the internet. Compared to IPv4's 32-bit address space of four billion addresses, IPv6has a 128-bit address space which means that the pool of IPv6 addresses contains 340 trillion, trillion, trillion unique addresses. This is a monumental amount and should accommodate the predicted growth and innovation of the Internet over the coming years.
IPv4 and IPv6 addresses can't communicate directly with each other. So, before IPv6 addresses can be used to access the Internet, your organisation's networks, services and products need to be IPv6 enabled. Most modern routers, modems and network cards will already support the IPv6 protocol so when your ISP switches over to IPv6 you should have no problem in connecting to the Internet and continuing with your daily business.
If your hardware is not IPv6 compliant, there are a number of ways to get them to communicate when using protocol translators, Excell can help advise your business to make sure that you are ready for the change.
IPv4 is not likely to disappear for a few years to come so there is no need to panic. If you require any further advice or guidance about when IPv6 is likely to be released on your network, it is best to contact your individual ISP. Even though there shouldn't be any real issues, it is always useful to know when your ISP is thinking of going to IPv6 as it could aid you when deciding to upgrade your existing hardware.
Why do we need an IP address?
IP addresses are the numbers that enable our computers, servers, telephones, cameras, printers and sensors to communicate with each other. Without IP addresses, we would have to copy data from device to device manually, using CDs, DVDs, hard disks or flash storage, such as a USB drive and our devices could not send data to each other without human intervention. Without the IP addresses assigned to our computers, we would have to send paper letters and memos instead of sending emails. There would be no streaming video sites and we would have to send each other discs and tapes. We would also not be able to order items online.
For more information you can download our IPv6 flyer here