It was only one year ago that the world welcomed the launch of IPv6, the long-anticipated solution to the problem of the world running out of IP addresses.
In its first year, IPv6 has started to take root. Take a look at Google’s IPv6 adoption chart, for example, and you will notice that the growth has been exponential over the past year. However, the communications protocol still has a long way to go before becoming widespread.
Over the next several years, the need for IPv6 will become more evident though. North America will run out of IPv4 addresses this month, according to the Internet Society’s infographic we previously referenced; meanwhile, Europe and Asia have run out already. On top of this, the increasing number of web-enabled smart devices, including smartphones, tablets, household appliances and vehicles, will put a further strain on IPv4’s networks.
Despite the glaring need for IPv6, IT infrastructure is still a limiting factor in its adoption. Rainer Enders had this to say in an IT Business Edge article: “The truth is, the transition to IPv6 will be a slow rollout that will happen over the next 10 years. There’s still too much work that needs to be done from providers in terms of upgrading their wiring, pipes and firmware.” Sadly, this is still the case, as many organizations have used workarounds like Network Address Translation (NAT) as band-aids rather than confronting the inevitable transition to a long-term solution.
Luckily, organizations are slowly starting to embrace the new era of the Internet. Operators such as AT&T, Verizon and Deutsche Telekom have championed the new protocol, with each more than doubling its IPv6 capabilities over the past year. Cloud providers have also encouraged uptake for enterprise customers with offerings based on it.
As it is adopted, organizations are enjoying the myriad advantages it offers over the previous version, including better security via built-in IPsec support and better tracking features. It also features more efficient router processing and larger packet sizes to encourage faster data transmission, which will improve the quality of streamed online video and shorter download times for large files.
As IPv6 celebrates its first birthday, let us both celebrate its successes and acknowledge that there will be some growing pains as the Internet adapts to it. There are 340 trillion trillion trillion good reasons to keep believing in its potential.