Changing Protocols: Why the Internet is Migrating to IPv6
How we access the internet is changing. It’s improving, and Ottawa IT companies can help businesses navigate this shift.
The Internet Protocol Suite is a set of rules which outlines how the internet works. It is commonly called TCP/IP because TCP and IP were the two original protocols that defined internet communication.
IP or internet protocol is the one that’s transforming the way we connect to the internet. IP defines how to break down the information into smaller packets to be shipped across the internet. It also describes how to name the source or host of the information. For example, it decides how to break down the image file you’re sending in an email into packets and how to uniquely identify the laptop that you’re using to send it to the internet.
The device or host’s name is its IP address. This address acts in a similar fashion to a postal address. The current protocol, IPv4, defines the order and information included in a 32-bit address. The numerical address is a unique, discoverable location directed through your router and ISP to anywhere on the internet. The collection of digits, being rather forgettable, is given a more human-friendly domain name (such as www.google.ca).
The Limitations of IPv4
These protocols were created in 1974 and are still running the internet today. However, the limitation of the current system lies in the 32-bits that produce the IP address. All the numerical combinations can create 4.3 billion unique addresses. It’s an impressive number, not enough. With an increasing number of people accessing the internet and managed network services, every unique address has been assigned.
In order to provide each device with a unique address, the local router would have one public IP address and create private IP addresses for its own internal network devices. This solution, called network address translation (NAT) can be managed by managed network services. It is a stopgap though because NAT can cause connection issues and increases security risks.
Engineers have long anticipated this problem. A solution has been in development since 1996 and is called IPv6.
IPv6 addresses devices using a 128-bit system producing an astonishing 340 undecillion unique addresses. Under IPv6, each device accessing the internet has a unique address. This new protocol increases efficiency. It also makes it very difficult for hackers to redirect traffic given the increased ability to verify a unique address.
At the time of writing, Google reports that 17% of users access Google using IPv6 instead of IPv4. In Canada, it’s at 18%. Ottawa network support companies are amongst those helping shift in Canada. While the updated protocol has been available since 2012, adoption has been slow. In order to access the internet using IPv6, every piece of infrastructure needs to be using IPv6. For servers and ISPs, there are significant investments with little change to the end user.
How it Affects Your Business
As a business owner, the migration to IPv6 is a not a question of if, but when. The shift is underway with many major websites such as Facebook, Wikipedia and Dropbox available through IPv6. Forward-thinking Ottawa IT companies are facilitating this shift.
Work with your technical team to determine what the upgrade to IPv6 will look like. System administrators, network engineers and developers need to be aware of the impact IPv6 will have in their area. Any new technology procured should be IPv6 compatible. Ottawa network support, infrastructure upgrades, managed network services, compatibility patches, and training may all be part of the move to the new protocol.