If you have ever worked with an internet service provider, you have probably heard the term “IP Address” before. Even so, it is very easy not to give the term much thought. But, what if I told you without IP addresses, we would live in a world without internet, phone, or any communication between devices?
Through answering a series of questions, this article should help to demystify the IP Address as well as well as explain its current role in the technology industry.
What is an IP Address?
An IP (internet protocol) address is a code that acts like a postal address for the internet. Since the internet connects all the devices in the world to create a network, it needs addresses to pinpoint where information has been sent, and where it is to be received. Every device that connects to the internet has an IP address that allows it to communicate with other connected devices.
There are two types of IP Addresses: Static and Dynamic
Static IP addresses, like the name suggests, do not change when connected to your network. They are more stable than dynamic IP addresses, allow for more accurate geolocation, and are better suited for hosting dedicated services like VPN or company email. They are also good for hosting and creating internet servers because they provide an identity that can be catalogued. Businesses are the most common users of these addresses.
It is also important to mention that static IP addresses are treated as a premium product. They typically come with a fee, and some internet service providers will only sell them to business class services.
On the other hand, Dynamic IP addresses change. With a dynamic IP address, a device secures an available address for an amount of time– leading to greater IP address efficiency for the internet service provider. These addresses are automatic and do not require any effort for the user, however geolocation is less accurate. This type of address is the best option for casual internet usage and is common among residential and consumer offerings.
What is the difference between IPv4 versus IPv6?
IPv4 addresses are the original IP configuration developed in the 1980’s that consists of four numbers from 0-255 followed by decimals such as: 184.108.40.206 . They are 32 bits in size and have about 4.3 billion possible combinations.
IPv6 addresses were created in 1998 after engineers realized that 4.3 billion combinations might not be enough. (Who knew the internet would be so popular?) These addresses are 128 bits in size and include eight groups of four letters (A through F) and numbers separated by colons. An example of an IPv6 address would be as follows: 8bbd:1200:6545:2875:a900:f8cd:fe67:68ef . There are about 340 trillion trillion trillion (340 x 10^36) combinations of IPv6 addresses, making IPv4’s 4.3 billion look tiny.
Why is there a push for organizations to deploy IPv6 addresses?
As shown above, there are only a set amount of IP addresses, and far less IPv4 addresses than IPv6 addresses. The bottom line is that almost all of the IPv4 addresses have been secured from internet registries like ARIN. Without any more IP addresses to distribute, the internet would cease to grow and be limited to 4.3 billion addresses. However, since brilliant engineers foresaw this issue in 1998, there are ample IPv6 addresses available to keep our internet growing.
Also, IPv6 migration is encouraged to help “futureproof” your technology because IPv6 addresses can be read more easily by existing IPv4 addresses than vice versa. IPv4 technology requires a translator in order to understand IPv6 addresses. This makes deploying IPv6 a greater priority for international organizations to ensure a reliable connection between customers and clients in all areas of the world. Another benefit of IPv6 is that the addresses are highly available, and therefore qualified users can secure them easily and in large quantities.
What are the concerns with IPv6 Deployment?
The main concern companies have with IPv6 addresses is their compatibility with current equipment. If IPv6 is not compatible, it could create a need for equipment replacement–leading to high costs. In addition, since IPv6 is viewed as a newer technology, it can cause a degree of discomfort and uncertainty among potential adopters who are unfamiliar with its complexity, and unsure of the security threats it might pose.
What is the current state of IPv6 Deployment?
According to the Internet Society’s 2017 IPv6 Deployment Report, “IPv6 deployment is increasing around the world, with over 9 million domain names and 23% of all networks advertising IPv6 connectivity.” This report goes on to explain that we are moving into the “Early Adopter” phase of the diffusion of innovations, and deployment shall continue to be adopted globally. Regional internet registries continue to promote the adoption of these addresses and raise awareness of the current IPv4 supply situation.
For more information, you can visit internet society.org to view the June 6, 2017 state of IPv6 Deployment document.
Even as many companies are led to adopt the IPv6 address technology, we will still have IPv4 addresses in use. Moving forward, merging these two formats together will allow our internet to continue to grow by connecting more and more devices. It is amazing how fast our internet has grown, and it will certainly continue thanks to the engineers who thought ahead and developed the IPv6 address.
DQE Communications does offer IPv6 addresses to its interested customers. Contact Us if you are interested in any of DQE Communications’ network solutions.
This article was written by Kristen Franks with contributions from Jason Basham, Sales Engineer.