What is IPv6?
There have been few milestones in computing that can compare to the introduction of the internet. It has completely changed the way we carry out work, communicate and entertain ourselves. Thinking of how all these things were done before the internet will help in understanding the far we have come. One of the integral components in the working of the internet is the Internet Protocol or IP. It can be described as a set of standardized mechanisms that are used in the transfer of data, allowing users to access the internet and its resources. The first widely used version of the Internet Protocol is IPv4. Previous versions of the internet protocol were used by a very limited group as compared to the IPv4 which is still the most widely used internet protocol.
Due to a number of limitations that were found in IPv4, the Internet Engineering Task Force or IETF started working on a new version of the internet protocol that would address the short comings of the IPv4. 1996 saw the release of a new internet protocol, IPv6 or Internet Protocol Version 6 which is also sometimes referred to as IPng or Internet Protocol Next Generation. This new version of internet protocol would run alongside IPv4 with minimal need for adjustments to current infrastructure. This however does not imply that they are interoperable since IPv6 is designed with a new kind of packet format that is significantly different from the headers of the IPv4 packets.
One of the main challenges that IPv4 faced and which necessitated the introduction of IPv6 was the depletion of addresses. With an ever increasing rate of demand for new internet addresses it was realized that the IPv4 address blocks were headed for exhaustion. This would have led to a shortage of network addresses for those looking to work on the internet. This issue was resolved by the greater address capacity of IPv6 which allows for the creation of internet addresses that are several billion times more as compared to the capacity of the pervious protocol. Another significant capability of IPv6 is multicasting. This is where you have data delivered to several destinations at the same time with no duplication. Multicasting capabilities on IPv4 are limited but can be fully enjoyed on IPv6. There is also a higher level of security on IPv6 which mainly targets mobile device users. With encryption, authentication and compression capabilities from the IPsec, mobile users enjoy greater security.
Most of the hardware currently in use can work with IPv6 though some components may require replacements or upgrades. For most users, some minor software changes will be enough to being using IPv6 since most of the modern operating systems will work with the new protocol. As the world slowly moves to the IPv6 protocol there will be a continued use of IPv4 into the foreseeable future. It is however important to point out that unless there will be new challenges coming up with the use of this protocol, IPv6 sufficiently deals with the challenges that faced IPv4.