The governing bodies of IP address assignments conducted a press conference this morning to announce the assignment of the last available IPv4 addresses; This meeting also provided an opportunity to discuss the major global transition into the next generation IPv6 addressing.

Today marks a significant point in the movement towards the new system, known as “IP version 6” (IPv6).  This is a result of the last unassigned major blocks of IPv4 addresses being assigned, and available for use.  This means the true push forward for IPV6 worldwide support and transition starts right now.

You can catch the press release: Free Pool of IPv4 Address Space Depleted , and view ICANN’s: Available Pool of Unallocated IPv4 Internet Addresses Now Completely Emptied (PDF).

This press conference was brought together by The Number Resource Organization (NRO), along with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the Internet Society (ISOC) and the Internet Architecture Board (IAB).

Ok, so what’s the big deal?

The evolving issue with the current IPv4 system is that there are severe limitations on the number of usable IP Addresses for devices that need to utilize the Internet.  This IPv4 addressing system has a maximum of 4.2 billion available IP Addresses. Thus, with the rapid growth of internet-enabled devices, which now even includes late model televisions, the number of IP addresses left for future additional devices is rapidly declining.

This is where IPv6 comes into save the internet (so to speak).  The next generation IP Addressing system, takes the problem of only having 4.2 billion addresses maximum and transforms the system to make an infinite amount of IP Addresses available. The new system ratifies this address storage problem, and most likely will never have to be switched out again for address limitation issues.

A couple of prime examples to really grasp the addressing space available;

  • For every square meter on Earth’s surface there would be more than four million unique IP Addresses available. This address space is so mind boggling, that it is quite literally, astronomical.
  • Like the numbers that describe the stars in a galaxy, another way to think about this is there will be more than 250 IP Addresses for every star in the currently known universe.

What does this mean for me?

For the average Internet users the only thing that might temporarily affect your internet usage during this transitional period in the near future is that some websites might not be available for short periods of time.

The current overall plan for this transition is to run what is called a “Dual Stack” IP Addressing. Until the majority of the world is in compliance and running on the new IPv6 addressing system, the “Dual Stack” IP Addressing system will be running. This means you would effectively have both IPv4 and IPv6 based addresses in your devices. Therefore, you will have the ability to utilize both systems at once.

The majority of computers, cell phones, and any brand new technology devices already have IPv6 support built in. This system was originally designed, tested and approved more than a decade ago, the main concern currently is with your routers.  Routers do not seem to have much support for IPv6.  However, when it comes time a simple Firmware Upgrade should solve that problem.

So in a nut shell, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about…

I’m not the average internet user! Now what?

If you are an IT person, such as a Systems Admin, Networker, Server Admin, Programmer or anything in between those fields of expertise, this means that you are going to need to become IPv6 aware.  You will need to become familiar with how it differs from IPv4 and understand at least the basics of it. In addition to this, you will need to be getting your systems ready to use IPv6 addressing.

On top of preparing your software, operating systems, network and devices for IPv6 address usage, you should also consider getting a block of IPv6 addresses right away. Having your websites and related be supported on both networks will help you during this transition.

Most modernized Data Centers already not only support IPv6, but actually have fully routed IPv6 addressing space available to their customers. In fact, some Internet Service Providers are already trialing this Dual Stack network addressing system.  A quick Google Search for “Dual Stack” reveals the Internet Service Providers offering Dual Stack.

For those of us not directly in an up-to-date data center, or want our home PC to have IPv6 connectivity, you may use such services as the Hurricane Electric’s Tunnel Broker. The Hurricane Electric Tunnel Broker simply routes IPv6 to your network via your existing IPv4 address via a Tunnel protocol.

In order to keep the planned “Dual Stack” transition period working, the Domain Name System (DNS) added an official new type of record for IPv6 replies. This is called the “AAAA” record entry type. The IPv4 DNS records are stored under the “A” type (A is short for address).

This means that you can have your website supporting both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses at the exact same current URL and domain name. The devices which are IPv6 enabled will attempt to look up the IPv6 address first, and then default back to the IPv4 as needed (assuming you are on the Dual Stack setup).

Quick  facts about IP Addressing

IPV4 actual usage began in the late 1980’s. It is a 32-bit based addressing system, resulting in a maximum of exactly 4,294,967,296 unique IP Addresses.  Today, all available blocks within this system are now assigned and used by everyone and there is no spare space.

The next generation IPv6 system, which has been in tested for a decade now, provides a new 128-bit based design, along with a staggering number (see infinite) of available IP addresses.  There basically won’t ever be a shortage again.

IPv6 Addresses Available: 340,282,366,920,938,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000; or three hundred forty undecillion, two hundred eighty two decillion, three hundred sixty six nonillion, nine hundred twenty octillion, nine hundred thirty eight septillion!

Where can I learn more?

Amongst the many resources available on IPv4, IPv6 and this transition, I found the following to be the most resourceful and updated information:

So, in conclusion, are you ready for IPv6?

The internet has been basically around since about the early 1970’s, those of us who have been involved in at the very least, just surfing the internet, let alone developing internet related projects; for the past roughly 20 years have really watched it emerge.

Today the internet, amongst many things is; a massive worldwide e-commerce platform, with an astronomical amount of information, including more useful abilities at your fingertips than you could possibly imagine.

The way internet users access these ever evolving websites and online services is constantly improving with new technologies, faster computers and networks, smarter mobile devices, and of course can’t leave out the enormous growth in the social media sectors.

With websites, such as The Internet Archive’s: Wayback Machine; which has been around since the late 1990’s, we have the ability to take a look back at how websites used to look, on almost a monthly snapshot basis. A few recommended sites to Wayback are: Yahoo, Microsoft and Google.

Most social media and social networking websites, got their origins in the early 2000’s. MySpace while founded in late 2003; was later named most popular social networking site in the United States in 2006. Facebook was founded in early 2004; Facebook overtook the title of most popular social networking website in April 2008; as of July of 2010 Facebook has more than 500 million active users.

In between the battling MySpace and Facebook in the social networking front; in 2006 the ever-popular today social networking website Twitter began its journey in the short messaging, status update, and content sharing via short URL services. Currently, Twitter’s users are sending more than 50 million tweets per day. Twitter has more than 70,000 registered applications.

Sites such as Gowalla and Foursqaure now allow people to be ever more connected with their family, friends and colleagues; by updating where they currently are located via these “check-in” style websites; typically via mobile device updates on smart phones; and announced to Twitter via tweet. Thus allowing their contacts to learn new places or gather at a local place together.

Technologies such as HTML5 being implemented within web browsers such as Google Chrome, are pushing to make interactive audio and video data available directly in the browser, versus the current standard of requiring Adobe’s Flash to be installed and used, thus making websites more lightweight, faster loading, and solving long time problems associated with flash.

There is even social programming websites these days, such as Github. Not only is Git the latest code repository system, but’s goal on top of being a top repository provider is to allow developers and the like to directly socially communicate about the code it publically stores, while having private repositories as well.

With how much the Internet truly evolved to become what it is today over even just the past decade, can only scrape the very bottom of what we might see become available, or the next biggest thing in the next 10 years, only time will truly tell.

Are you ready to take on the internet’s ever evolving challenges, and to keep up with the times? From simple internet surfers to web developers and in between; the internet will be always evolving, improving and drastically changing; you must stay on top of it; or you could be out of the loop very quickly.

What do you think will be the next biggest internet related service or website?

If you’re an avid Internet user, you owe Finland a great deal of gratitude. They’re the first nation in the world to make broadband service a basic right to its citizens. Without this big step from them, there’s no telling how long it would’ve taken for another country to finally pull the trigger. That’s right: while America tries to figure out how to get broadband into rural areas, Finland is moving forward with a much bolder plan that involves giving broadband access to every single person in its country.

Why is this such an important move? Internet has been the most used tool in the last few years, that is free and provides valuable information for anyone using it properly. Bringing high speed access to all would improve the quality of life in some of the country’s most sparsely-populated regions, as well as boosting business and encouraging online business.  Making internet a basic right for all citizens, is a step forward in providing each person with the latest news, education, technology and everything else available at your finger tips.

Starting this month, any Internet provider that operates in Finland will be obligated to provide a 1Mbps connection to all Finnish households, regardless of location. That’s certainly a huge thing to ask of ISPs, but there are limitations in place to prevent outrageous extra fees from cropping up. This is s BIG move and it will hopefully spark a lot of copycat movements from other governments around the world. No one wants to lag behind in the race to become the most connected nation in the world, and while Finland is certainly small, it’s far from being “tiny.”

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