Today is the day many companies and organizations permanently enable IPv6 for their products and services. This is a big deal.

We’ve had all of our major public servers accessible by both IPv4 and IPv6 for some time, and continuously since World IPv6 Day last year. We’ve also been assigning IPv6 networks by request to customers with routers and network gear capable of supporting it. We’d love to assign more, but although enterprise-grade equipment and every major computer operating system supports IPv6, support in consumer-grade equipment such as DSL routers has been in a chicken-and-egg limbo for years.

So what’s the big deal?

The Internet has run on the IPv4 protocol since September, 1981. An IPv4 address is a 32-bit value, which provides around 4 billion unique IP addresses. Even though changes have been made to the allocation and usage of this space, from replacing the original classed network system with CIDR to routing schemes like NAT, it was never really designed or intended for an rapidly growing public Internet, and it’s clearly at the end of its road.

IPv6, which has actually been around for longer than you might think, is the next generation of Internet addressing. Will it ever fully replace IPv4? That’s unknown but the days of freely allocating more IPv4 addresses are at an end.

IPv6 uses a 128-bit address and provides a vastly larger number of unique IP addresses. Large enough to handle 4 billion unique organizations each with 4 billion unique clients each with their own 64-bit address space, itself 4 billion times larger than the entire IPv4 address space. IPv6 provides the room to create and implement advanced networking features like auto-configuration, efficient routing, and simplified renumbering.

What can you do to help move us further away from IPv4?

Talk to your Internet and/or hosting provider about IPv6 and ask about their deployment plans.  Ask them to publicly comment or announce their plans. Talk to your IT department and ask the same questions.

Welcome to the production Internet!