Getting Closer To IPv6?
With the recent news that 6 of the 11 root DNS servers now have a native IPv6 address, there’s a feeling amongst some that we might finally be going down the road towards migrating to IPv6. It’s been talked about for years. I’ve been hearing doomsday predictions about the scarcity of the IPv4 address space for at least 15 years now. IPv4 has roughly a 4 billion IP address space–not excluding various blocks not usable by hosts– versus IPv6′s roughly 3.4x1038 IP address space.
The Domain Name System, otherwise known as DNS, is a very important function on the Internet. Without it, people could not translate, say, phoneboy.com, into a usable IP address for a number of different services. If you were on an IPv6 network, you could still resolve DNS names, but packets would have to be sent out over an IPv4 network. Native IPv6 support means that DNS can now operate entirely over IPv6.
Aside from increased address space, IPv6 would essentially eliminate the need for address translation–within the IPv6 network anyway. Some sort of translation might be necessary to reach hosts still on IPv4 only–or for IPv4 hosts to reach IPv6 hosts. However, that would be the exception rather than the norm. Also, IPv6 supports proper point-to-point encryption as part of the standard.
While us geeks are looking forward to IPv6, there’s a lot of infrastructure still on IPv4, and likely will be for the foreseeable future. The process will likely take another decade or more. By then, most of our computers, routers, and networking equipment should be IPv6 ready. I hope.