IPv6: An Unnoticed Change to the Web?

(Ping! Zine Web Tech Magazine) – You might not notice a difference when you log onto the web as compared to before last Wednesday. However, things are actually quite different. With the official launch for the protocol known as IPv6, the web now features considerably more availability for web presences.

IPv6 expands the number of possible IP addresses, bringing the number to “340 trillion trillion trillion, according to a report from CNN Money last week (if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not the only one, that’s in the undecillions).

So why did we need IPv6? IP’s allow actual web addresses to be translated into coding, providing our web browsers with the ability to actually visit websites. IPv4 allowed for a certain number of numerical digits in the coding of an IP. However, as more and more people came online, the IPv4 addresses were exhausted. IPv6 simply provides for more digits so we can use new ones.

Just some of the high-profile online presences who officially turned IPv6 on by default on Wednesday included Cisco, Google, Akami, Time Warner Cable, Yahoo! and Facebook.

And while the most noticeable change may have occurred last week, it’s been a process that’s taken a complex transition. However, it’s gone quite smoothly. Computer scientist Vince Cerf addressed the complexity of the issue in a CNET interview last week. “This is not puffery. It is incredibly hard, painstaking work by engineers looking to make sure that every line of code that “knows” an IP address is 32 bits long in a certain format also “knows” that it could also be in IPv6 format, 128 bits long,” commented Cerf.

“This is a major accomplishment for ISPs and application providers around the world. The router and edge device providers have mostly done their homework years ago, but the ISPs and app providers are largely just getting there,” Cerf continued.

Meanwhile, the platform is already providing results for some companies who rely on web presences for product sales. “The majority of our revenue is booked through the Cisco.com web site, and 80% of our technical cases are solved through it,” commented Cisco Fellow Mark Townsley in a report from TechCentral.ie. “It was a big commitment by us to run this over IPv6,” Townsley continued.