Say goodbye to 192.168.129.x

Data Center, courtesy Wikimedia
Data Center, courtesy Wikimedia

Happy IPv6 day!

Today, June 8th is the day the major internet companies like Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Verizon, Microsoft and a few others migrate to IPv6 for a 24 hour test.  The migration to IPv6 will eventually be permanent as the number of addresses available for IPv4 is running low.  Considering that there are about 4,000,000,000 IPv4 addresses, that is sort amazing.

IPv6 addresses will look substantially different than the IPv4 example used in the title of this post.  A typical IPv6 address looks something like this:  2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334.  In 32 bit, that format can generate 340 undecillion unique number sets, or 340,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 written in non-scientific notation.  Most new operating systems, routers, and switches come with IPv6 protocols installed.  IPv4 and IPv6 can operate side by side and often do.  That is the good news.  The bad news; much if not all of the inside IP addressing schemes and subnetting will not work with IPv6.  Even so, it may not be necessary to rebuild entire networks using IPv6 until some sort of major upgrade or replacement.  IPv4 will work well into the future.

From a user standpoint, the transition should be transparent.  For IT guys, the change means typing in a few extra digits when configuring an outside IP address.  Networking bubbas may have their hands full.

One advantage, depending on one’s point of view, of IPv6 is that internal IP address schemes will not be needed, theoretically.  Thus, for example, a toaster or other appliance can communicate over power line to the cable modem, which will then establish an IP tunnel to the toaster manufacturer or some other party of interest.  Smart electric meters also have this capacity and use it to communicate directly with the utility company.

Homeplug computer network
Homeplug computer network

From the standpoint of IP streaming audio, IPv6 is more efficient than v4 in multicast operations.  This will hopefully reduce latency somewhat in web streaming audio.