It’s no secret that the number of available IPv4 addresses has been exhausted. It has been common knowledge for quite some time among industry professionals that the end was near. However, before we can begin to look forward, it is important to examine how we found ourselves in this current predicament.
Most of us are familiar with IP addresses, but for those of you who aren’t: and IP address can be compared to the address of a home. It’s a unique number that every device is assigned so that it can communicate with other devices on the Internet or private network. There are two major components to an IP address; the network portion, which is comparable to the street name where the house is located, and a host identifier for each person on the network, which is similar to a house number.
IP addressing is a protocol that has gone through multiple revisions. Currently, a majority of Internet users are operating on IP version four, or IPv4. This version has been in use since the early 1980s and has now been exhausted by the explosive rate of people and new devices connecting to the Internet.
In an attempt to delay the extinction of IPv4, Network Address Translating (NAT) was introduced. NAT is the process where a public IP address is assigned to a device, or group of devices, inside a private network. Referring back to our house example; a NAT will assign everyone on your street with the same IP address instead of assigning one to each individual house. However, this only slowed down the inevitable depletion of IPv4 addresses.
The solution to this problem is the implementation of IPv6, which is the latest IP addressing protocol. IPv6 provides a vast number of IP addresses which will last well into the future. However, the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 has been tedious. Although IPv6 has been available since the 1990s, not many ISPs or companies have implemented it. Now that the transition to IPv6 can no longer be avoided, many are rushing to make the switch. However, the likely consequence will be that IPv4 and IPv6 will co-exist until IPv6 becomes standard.
If your company hasn’t done so yet, now would be the time to prepare for the transition to IPv6. Whether your business hosts their website or uses an outside ISP or Web-hosting service, it is important to find out what the plan is to implement IPv6.
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