The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published a document to warn goverments and business about the near-future IPv4 addresses shortage. Actually 85% of the IPv4 address space of already assigned (total space is 2^32 == 4,294,967,296) and should be fully assigned by 2011! Of course, a lot of big networks are already NATed (hidden) behind a few public addresses but there are still a lot of wasted addresses.
The IPv6 protocol is stable and available for a few years now. I remember when I was playing with the 6bone nine years ago:
person: Xavier Mertens address: Lozenberg, 22 1932 Zaventem Belgium phone: +32 2 717 17 00 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org nic-hdl: XM1-6BONE remarks: First registration remarks: This object is automatically converted from the RIPE181 registry notify: email@example.com changed: firstname.lastname@example.org 19990701 changed: email@example.com 20010117 source: 6BONE
IPv6 offers many new interesting features compared to the version “4”:
- A much bigger address space (2^128). To make things clear, any device could potentially have it’s own fixed IP
- Native encryption and security features
Check here for a full list of IPv6 specs.
But the IPv6 protocol was never massively deployed. Why? IMHO, due to its relative complexity. IPv6 is still difficult to deploy natively on a network. Most of the time, you have to encapsulate IPv6 into IPv4 to reach your IPv6 backbone. Not much ISP already provide IPv6 connectivity and , AFAIK, none in Belgium except Belnet (see here)
Implementing IPv6 on a network is a long and difficult project (with huge costs). All devices and applications must be IPv6 ready. Security, as usual, is a key point (are your firewalls IPv6 ready?) . It’s impossible to switch from IPv4 to IPv6 in “one click”. It means a lot of work for IT teams in the future!
…and while you don’t have “native” IPv6, you still can connect to IPv6 sites.
For Windows XP SP2:
1) netsh interface ipv6 install
2) shutdown -r -t 0 [only if netsh asks you to]
3) Googletest it (http://ipv6.google.com – with an animated logo!)