What You Need To Know About IPv4 and IPv6
A Little History
Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) was the first major internet protocol invented in the 1970s. The IPv4 protocol defines IP addresses in a 32-bit format and remains as the main configuration for delivering information between devices connected to the internet. Since the invention of the internet in the early 80s, this protocol has been the backbone for the world wide web as well as many other enterprise networks around the world.
IPv4 faced challenges due to its 32-bit format design and limited number of available IP addresses (~4 billion). With the imminent exhaustion of addresses, Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) was developed in the late 90s. IPv6 defines addresses in a 128-bit format and colossally increases the available address pool. The challenge facing the internet now is that IPv4 and IPv6 are two separate protocols that do not operate together.
Supply & Demand
The exhaustion of IPv4 addresses was no surprise. IANA, the authority managing the world’s IP addresses, announced that the last block of addresses had been assigned in the early 2010’s. Since then, the world has managed with a combined approach of reassigning unused IPv4 addresses and introducing the IPv6 protocols. To manage the two protocols, most IP transit providers moved to a dual-stack architecture and run both protocols in parallel until IPv4 can be retired.
Is IPv4 Retiring?
Adoption of IPv6 addresses has grown slowly. Those on IPv4 based networks wanting to upgrade are faced with managing transition costs, as well as the time and effort – and resulting downtime – needed to update infrastructure design. For new networks, IPv6 protocol popularity has grown and internet service providers are adapting their network to support IPv6. As of late 2019, worldwide adoption of IPv6 protocols has reached approximately 30% according to measurements reported by Google.
The reality of the situation is that networks built on IPv4 technology will continue to operate for an indeterminate amount of time. IPv4 addresses are championed by some to be easier to work with – particularly on small subnets, like those in small company networks or homes. If the need to transition happened suddenly, there remains the question of whether the network support community could manage the load this change would create. So for now, a hybrid approach of both protocols will continue.
It takes expertise to understand how IPv4 or IPv6 technology impacts your business – if you are deploying a new network and are not sure which route to go, reach out to us at iTel. Our team of knowledgeable experts are dedicated to your success and will help guide you to the right choice. We will make sure you are set up with the best technology to support your networking needs.