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IPv6 – The new Internet Protocol

Friday, October 16th, 2009 by Jan Boysen (Servage)

You may already have heard, the currently used Internet Protocol IPv4 (Internet Protocol version4) is running out of space faster than originally thought.

The protocol we are currently using to do all the ‘funny things’ around the Internet has already been developed back in the 1970’s. At this time no one could imagine what this protocol would be in use for in the future. Today we are transferring Exabytes of data from one point of the world to another in a few seconds day by day. Due to technical limitations IPv4 can handle 4.294.967.296 unique systems in total. Many of those IPv4 addresses have already been assigned to ISPs, universities and other organizations. Back in 1994 the Internet Engineering Task Force already predicted that IPv4 would not be suitable forever, so they started to develop a replacement for IPv4.
The new protocol was named IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) as version 5 was intended to offer better video streaming capabilities but has been dismissed before it was finished. The specifications for IPv6 were published in 1998 and has since then been implemented in more and more operating systems.

Today all major operating systems like Linux, Mac-OS, Windows and *BSD does have full support for IPv6 implemented and more and more ISPs are starting to offer services with IPv6 connectivity too.

Due to the fact that the new protocol was designed to support a significant increased count of systems in the same protocol the storage size of an IP-Address has been changed from 32 Bits to 128 Bits. This results in so many different IP-addresses that nearly every grain of sand at the beach could get its own IPv6 address ;)

But not only the address length has changed. IPv6 has been developed with 20 years of experience with the needs of the Internet in mind. Security enhancements like IPsec has directly been implemented in the protocol which makes severals complicated ways of controlling and implementing IPsec in IPv4 obsolete.

As the IPv6 Addresses can handle so many more systems the length of every single address increased too. In the “old” IPv4 world an IP Address could look like this: This is the common decimal writing scheme for IPv4 addresses. In IPv6 the scheme has been changed to a hexadecimal style like: 2001:db8:45f3:82e1:971:aeff:ccb5:22a. You see the new IPv6 addresses are a lot longer than the old ones, so the DNS will become even more important in the future in a pure IPv6 Internet than today.

We at Servage have also started to offer services via IPv6 some time ago. All our nameservers can also be reached via IPv6 and they can serve IPv6 clients with IPv6 addresses informations. The newest system with IPv6 support is our E-Mail-platform. So you can receive and send E-Mails via IPv6 already today. You may not even notice this at all, as you could deliver your E-Mail via IPv4 to our servers which are able to send them via IPv6 to the destination if IPv6 is supported.

As IPv6 is currently moving slowly forward many ISPs don’t offer IPv6 connectivity to their end-users today. Only few ISPs offer such native IPv6 links to their customers. But there is a way to get IPv6 connected even if your ISP doesn’t support IPv6 yet. There are a number if IPv6 tunnel-brokers out there that offer ipv6 connection tunnels for free. One of those is the SixXS project. If you want to try IPv6 you should definitely take a look at this.

If you want to know more about IPv6 in general you should also look at the great Wikipedia Article regarding IPv6.

IPv6 - The new Internet Protocol, 4.3 out of 5 based on 23 ratings
Categories: Servage


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2 comments (leave a comment)

After you have enabled IPv6 on the email-servers, I can no longer fetch mail using Outlook under Windows XP or Vista machines with IPv6 enabled. IPv6-enabled websites work fine.


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