According to the researchers and technology experts, availability of IPv4 addresses will exhaust in 2010 at this rate, probably between march and may. Thats less than 3 years from now. Most probably the panic attack will come before that. So I guess it's safe to assume that migration to IPv6 is going to be big after around 2 years from now. So buckle up, road ahead is bond to be a bit edgy (at least for tech people).
Well, I'm not in a mood to explain what IPv4/6 addresses are for non-tech-savvy people. So I'll give a very simple (technically inaccurate) example. Your house is named "Big House", and people know it by the name. Your house also has a number to be refers by the town authorities 63/57. For people and for day to day use "Big House" is more easier and convenient. But the actual representation of your house is 63/57. Taxing and evaluating are done in association with it. Think of domain names (Ex: google.com) as "Big House" and IP addresses (Eg: 22.214.171.124) as 63/57. An IPv4 address is a 4-segment representation where each segment can be a number between 0-255 (IE: 0.0.0.0 - 255.255.255.255). Each computer, router and any node directly connected to the Internet should have an IP address. In lay terms, IP address exhaustion means that by a certain date (Eg: march, 2010), there will be no more address available to be given to the new computers connecting to the Internet.
Even a kid can realize that this is a crisis. But unfortunately, most businesses who influence the IT industry didn't feel it was. They get the wake up call now. Comfort zone invaded, now they have to move to a new system to sustain the growth of the Internet. Solution: IPv6.
Back in early 90s, IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force), and other people foresaw the coming of the inevitable exhaustion. So in 1996, IETF released a set of specifications for the version 6 of the Internet Protocol (IPv6), starting with RFC 2460. 11 years later the industry has shown a terribly lukewarm attitude towards adopting IPv6. The concept has remained more academical than practical until recently. However with the predictions available, it can be expected to see more rapid adoption and migration to IPv6 from IPv4. The biggest pain, I guess would be to migrate business applications and legacy systems to IPv6. On system administration front, more and more IPv6 aware applications and tools are appearing.
I guess and hope that we are going to see the mass migration to IPv6 soon. Even the newly appointed IETF chair Russ Housley expects to see this sooner rather than later. He said this in an interview among other things. Russ being having a strong interest in security also expressed his eagerness to improve security of the Internet.
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