An Introduction to IPv6

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Being connected to the internet has become more of a necessity nowadays, but few of us stop to realize how the whole process takes place. We connect to the web through a communication protocol that brings a location as well as identification system for all devices that are available on that network. Also known as the Internet Protocol, this makes it easy to determine where you are connected to the web and through what type of connection.

IPv6 is basically the latest version of the Internet Protocol that was created in order to solve some major problems that IPv4 brought. In fact, the main problem with the IPv4 system was that it brought a small, limited number of addresses and that quickly lead to their exhaustion as the internet usage and availability.

2000px-Ipv6_address_leading_zeros.svgDecomposition of the IPv6 address representation into its binary form

However, the transition to the IPv6 system is rather slow, as most of the web traffic still takes place on the old system. IPv6 uses an 128-bit address as opposed to the 32-bit address included in the IPv4, which means that it supports as many web connectable devices as possible, thanks to a much better support. The downside here is that the infrastructure needs to suffer some changes, mainly due to the fact that the two protocols aren’t designed to be interoperable, which make the whole transition process to be very complicated unfortunately.

Alongside the larger number of addresses, the IPv6 also comes with other technical benefits as well. One of the major additional benefits is that it allows the allocation of hierarchical addresses that make the route aggregation process a lot easier. This way the number of routing tables is lowered tremendously, which is definitely great to say the least.

On top of that, the IPv6 is also optimized for higher web speeds and, which is even better, it allows you to perform the expansion of routing tables a lot easier. There are multiple things that were considered when the IPv6 system was created, and these include better configuration, ease of use, security and mobility. This is the main reason why IPv6 provides an even better mobile support, which is definitely an amazing achievement.

2000px-Ipv4_address.svgDecomposition of the quad-dotted IPv4 address representation to its binary value

The IPv6 addresses include 8 groups of different hexadecimal digits. All of these digits are separated by colons, which makes it easier to determine from both a functional and visual standpoint.

IPv6 was also created with multicasting in mind, which means that the transmission of packets towards multiple destinations is much better thanks to it. Alongside that, IPv6 also comes with a stateless address configuration, which means that the host configuration process can be done automatically.

2000px-Ipv6_header.svgIPv6 packet header

Another important thing to mention about the IPv6 is the fact that the whole router configuration process is greatly simplified, which makes routers more efficient and speedy as well.

In conclusion, IPv6 can be seen as the next generation of communications protocol, and thanks to it we can access an unlimited number of IPs without an issue. It’s certain that the IPv6 will continue to evolve in time, but only time will tell what new features will be added. But even now, this is one of the best network technologies that has become necessary for connecting to the web.

If you would like to continue reading about IPv6 in Unified Communications, we recommend you the article “IPv6 and its Impact on Videoconferencing” by Edon Abdulovski along with some interesting comments.

Photo credit: Claus Rebler / Wikimedia Commons

Alexandru Tanase
A man with a passion for writing, be it news, software or game reviews or something else.
Alexandru Tanase
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Alexandru Tanase

A man with a passion for writing, be it news, software or game reviews or something else.

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