IPv6: Adapt or Perish

By Mike Leber, President and CEO, Hurricane Electric

(Ping! Zine Web Hosting Magazine) – Back in the dawn of the Internet, even the most progressive experts couldn’t have predicted how massive it would truly become.  Today, it’s hard to imagine where the world would be without it.  From communications and networking, to personal security, to gaming and entertainment, to information acquisition and so much more, it’s safe to say that the Internet has completely changed our society as a whole, forever.  The network of networks has spurred a fundamental shift in the very ways we interact with the world around us in virtually every aspect, making it arguably the most important invention of our time.  With this kind of proliferation, however, come inevitable growing pains.   While we are rationing, the world’s 4.3 billion IP addresses provided by Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) are running low.

IPv4 was first specified back in the 1981 RFC 790 “assigned numbers” document when 4.3 billion unique address combinations seemed more than adequate for global usage; no one ever imagined we could possibly need more.  Today, the reality is that the world will have more than 25 billion connected devices by 2020, inevitably forcing us to recycle IP addresses.  This can cause many issues including the recycling of blacklisted IP addresses, which limits the user’s Internet access, as well as unnecessary increased complexity when connecting online.  As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to proliferate, we can anticipate this number to increase exponentially as everything from refrigerators and car tires to watches and thermostats will require its own unique IP address.  So, how do we accommodate so many connected devices?

To combat the issue, some of the greatest minds in the Internet community have developed IPv6, a brand new Internet Protocol that replaces IPv4 and provides us with approximately 340 trillion trillion trillion possible combinations for individual IP addresses. Though necessary, this shift will not be instantaneous. As service providers continue to grow their networks and serve new customers with IPv6, they will still need to serve existing IPv4 customers.  The solution for allowing IP’s coexistence of IPv4 and IPv6 over the same connection for customers is known as dual stacking.  Global Internet service provider Hurricane Electric offers its dual stack Internet connectivity with its IP Transit and Colocation services.  Hurricane Electric is also owner and operator of the world’s largest IPv6 network as measured by the number of networks connected.

Superior connectivity is key as companies seek low latency solutions while experimenting with and transitioning to IPv6 systems.  Hurricane Electric provides connectivity to over 100 major exchange points and has the ability to directly exchange traffic with over 3,700 distinct networks over more than four redundant paths across North America, two paths between USA and Europe and fiber rings in Europe and Asia.  Of course, none of this would be possible without data centers, which provide the necessary infrastructure and connectivity to enable the Internet.

Modern data center technology compatible with IPv6 is also a highly important factor as companies seek superior levels of communication, access to connected resources and be marketability to new customers that require IPv6.  Meeting these needs, Hurricane Electric offers IPv4 / IPv6 Internet transit services in CoreSite, Cologix, Digital Realty, Equinix, Global Switch, Interxion, TELEHOUSE and TelecityGroup data centers globally.

The telecommunication industry is molded by constant change and fluctuation – it is a testament to the evolvement of technology and society as a whole, constantly growing faster, stronger and more useful every day. IPv6 is the next logical chapter in the Internet’s history, so it’s time for you to adapt to this new technology and embrace the new face of the Internet.  Adapt or perish.

Mike Leber founded Hurricane Electric LLC in 1994 and serves as its President and Chief Executive Officer. Hurricane Electric is a leading Internet backbone and colocation provider which operates a global IPv4 and IPv6 network, running N-by-10 Gbps links throughout North America, Europe and Asia, and owns several datacenters including the most recent 200,000 square foot Fremont 2 colocation facility.