IPv6 - Time for the new internet protocol

Rolf Sormo

by Rolf Sormo

I have news for you. The internet is full. There are no more machine-to-machine addresses, as we have used up the existing 4.3 billion in the current IPv4 protocol. While this is true, the number of devices connected to the internet is also growing exponentially. In addition to your computer, your phone, clock, fridge, coffee machine, heater and many other machines want access to the internet to make your life easier.

Fortunately this is no news to the regulatory authorities, and a functional solution to this predicament already exists. It's called IPv6, and it can provide 340 undecillion unique addresses (that is 3.4 x 10^38, or 34 and 37 zeroes). To get an idea of the scale, I'll quote this web page: "The earth is about 4.5 billion years old. If we had been assigning IPv6 addresses at a rate of 1 billion per second since the earth was formed, we would have by now used up less than one trillionth of the address space".

The reason why IPv6 is relevant today, even though the protocol was formalized in 1998, is that we can still cope with running out of IPv4 addresses. We've come up with tricks like NAT (Network Address Translation) that allow us to use IPv4, so there's no actual deadline by which everyone needs to support IPv6. And because of that, there's no real pressure for everyone (and I really mean everyone; from operating system providers, to browser developers, to internet providers, to website operators, to network operators) to start supporting it. 

However, eventually we need to support it, and it only.

Luxus Helsinki and IPv6

The Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority - the party responsible for .fi domains, and all other government responsibilities related to running the Internet - has taken another shot at making this happen with their ipv6nyt.fi campaign, which has a deadline of today. It is relevant and the change needs to happen, but as my colleague put it, it's just "another feeble attempt at IPv6". Unless we're all on board and commit to it. And why not commit to it today, since all the large ISPs in Finland have already done so. At least Elisa, Sonera and DNA announced having (improved) support for IPv6 by today, and by the looks of it, they have delivered.

At Luxus Helsinki, we wanted to join but couldn't meet the mark, as our 3rd party DNS provider doesn't support IPv6 with their normal DNSs. And if that wasn't enough, we only found out about the campaign two weeks ago, giving us very little time to react. Next time, we would be very happy to help Ficora with their communications.

Nevertheless, we've made the conscious decision to support IPv6 in all our future endeavours. This means that all our servers will have a global address, and eventually our DNSs will provide the required AAAA records for all our new production environments.

If you're unfamiliar with the other benefits of IPv6, I suggest you do some more reading. After all, we're talking about a technology that plays a huge part in our daily lives.