In 1983, in the midst of the Cold War and Irene Cara’s Flashdance, IPv4 was born. At the time, the conventional wisdom was that 4+ Billion (232 to be precise) unique IP addresses would be more than enough for all of humanity for a very long time.
But then the Internet escaped from the guarded halls of government and the temples of highbrow research universities, and spread to the masses with their unwavering need to be connected; sharing via any possible way on every possible device by any possible medium (and not just cat videos). Suddenly, 232 IP addresses got exhausted. We have been trying to work through this exhaustion with “classful” network design, classless Inter-Domain Routing, NAT and numerous other methods, but the appetite for Internet connectivity far out-paces these technologies.
IPv6 is Revolutionary
IPv6 is necessary for the growth and continued evolution of the information age. The greatest benefit of IPv6 is that instead of 232 unique IP addresses, we get 2128 unique IP addresses to feed our growing “at all time” connectivity appetite across as many “smart” devices as needed (to turn us into human server farms). Put simply, it gives us room to GROW!
Even more great news, it also comes with serious tangible advantages. 5 major benefits on the horizon are:
Packet processing is more efficient — Simplified packet headers allow for greater efficiency in packet processing. Since IPv6 contains no IP-level checksum, it does not need to be recalculated at every hop. This means a reduced probability of data loss leading to errors when transferring sensitive files with high compression between teams.
Better delivery of multimedia streams — IPv6 supports multicast, which allows bandwidth-intensive packet flows (like multimedia content) to be sent simultaneously to multiple destinations. This not only means saving network bandwidth, but disinterested hosts no longer need to process broadcast packets.
Simplified network configuration — Address auto-configuration (address assignment) is built in to IPv6, so a host can generate its own IP address.
Support for new services — Without Network Address Translation (NAT), true end-to-end connectivity at the IP layer is a reality again, making room for new and valuable services being developed. P2P networks become simpler to create and maintain, and services such as VoIP and Quality of Service (QoS) get to be more robust.
Security — IPSec is baked into IPv6. This is what provides confidentiality, authentication and data integrity. Currently, due to their potential to carry malware, IPv4 ICMP packets are often blocked by enterprise-class firewalls. But ICMPv6, the implementation of the Internet Control Message Protocol for IPv6, could be permitted because IPSec is applied to the ICMPv6 packets.
The Bottom Line
Both industry and government demand IPv6.
IPv6 opens up vast new commercial opportunities in a world obsessed with “smart” everything, from cell phones, tablets, and even clothes. With greater volume of data packets being delivered more reliably, it drives a truly immerse and captive user experience for businesses to leverage.
For the public sector, IPv6 meets ever more stringent security standards and is designed to cut down on forklift upgrades. Most notable sign of government support for IPv6 is its inclusion in the DoD Unified Capabilities Approved Products List requirements, making IPv6 mandatory for technology eligible for purchase by DoD and other security-sensitive government purchasers.