HISTORY OF WORLD IPV6 DAY
Why haven’t I heard about it before?
This is the first time it has happened.
What happens today?
The Internet Society is sponsoring World IPv6 Day on June 8, 2011: Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Akamai, Limelight Networks, Cisco, Genius, W3C and others will participate for 24 hours in the first global “test flight” of IPv6.
Who is the Internet Society?
They were founded in 1992 to provide corporate structure to support the Internet standards development process. Vint Cerf (Google) one of “the fathers of the Internet”, Bob Kahn “co-inventor of TCP/IP”, and Lyman Chapin released a document “Announcing ISOC” to support the technical evolution of the Internet.
What is IP (Internet Protocol) and why do I care?
Glad you asked. If you’re reading this far in the article, and there is a high likelihood you are, then you’re using Internet Protocol. It’s how we connect computers and devices together on the Internet. IP is the primary communications protocol used for relaying “packets” of information across the Internet. IP’s job is to deliver these packets or “datagrams” from a source computer or smart device to the destination computer using only their addresses. As such, IP is the connectionless datagram service in the original Transmission Control Program introduced back in 1974 by Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn. Along with Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) we get TCP/IP.
What happened to IPv4?
It’s still around, but quite simply, we’ve outgrown it. The IPv4 address standard was developed in 1981 when few anticipated there would be more than millions of computers connected together on the Internet. Computers thirty years ago were typically large and expensive, and personal computers were in their infancy. IPv4 allowed for only slightly over 4 billion unique addresses. Specifically 232 or 4,294,967,296 addresses. Things are very different today, and in the near future. In 5 years, Cisco predicts there will be over 15 billion Internet-connected devices, roughly an average of 2 Internet-capable devices for every person on the planet.
What does IPv6 provide?
Because IPv4 uses only 32-bit addressing (232) those 4 billion addresses were exhausted in February 2011. But IPv6 uses a 128-bit address system, or 2128. This works out to 3.4 x 1038 addresses or 340 undecillion. In real life, that is equivalent to 5 x 1028 addresses per person — for you, me, and everyone else alive on the planet. This would be at least five Internet address for every atom in your body. It is not too far off from the number of charged particles in the universe, as theorized by Arthur Eddington.
It also has some other features around stateless address auto-configuration and network renumbering, data encryption for security, as well as an automatic mechanism for formatting the host identifier, but I don’t want to get too technical.
So, what do I need to do?
Sit back, and let the technicians, engineers and content providers work on this global-scale test flight experiment. They’ll see what breaks, though most Internet users won’t notice. They’ll continue to run IPv4 simultaneously. Some web sites may disappear temporarily. But it’s very unlikely you will be impacted by IPv6 Day. Current estimates are that 0.05% of users may experience connectivity issues.
Rest assured, the billpetro.com network of blogs has been fully IPv6 tested, and is ready for your viewing pleasure.
Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian