What is IPV6 and why is it needed? Parsing
The Internet is good for everyone, but it has one big drawback. The fact is that it was designed with errors.
The people who stood at the origins of the Internet, in the 1970s, could not even imagine that after some 40 years we would each have a personal computer in our pocket with round-the-clock Internet access, and then all light bulbs, kettles and smart vacuum cleaners would need the Internet. So they made the biggest architectural mistake – they made the Internet very small and called this Internet – Internet Protocol version 4.
Therefore, today we will talk about what is wrong with the current Internet? How the Internet ended in the mid-2010s and how Internet Protocol Version 6 will change the architecture of the Internet forever.
How did IP addresses come about?
We all need addresses. We need a postal address so that we can get cool packages, receipts, old-fashioned love letters – why not? We need a registration address so that we can fully participate in the life of our city and so that the state does not lose us. And of course, we need an address on the Internet so that packets of bytes with funny gifs, encoded characters and an endless stream of video content that we produce for you reach us.
Yes, Internet addresses are definitely needed! This is exactly what the creators of the first successful, non-experimental version of the Internet protocol, IPv4, Internet Protocol version 4, decided in the early 1980s.
Then the IP address was invented, which looks like this:
A little clarification, an IP address is, in fact, the postal address of a device on a network. Every site, smartphone, computer, server, smart light bulb, and so on, must have an IP address, otherwise the data packets simply won’t know where to go.
And if you want to learn more about how an IP address 22.214.171.124 converted to the usual site address droider.ru you can from the previous part this article about DNS servers.
An IPv4 address consists of 4 blocks of 8 bits, each of which is called an octet, and is written as dotted decimal digits.
The total length of such an address is 32 bits. Which actually turns into as many as 4 billion 294 million 967 thousand 296 combinations. Then, in the 1980s, only the military and universities had the Internet, so the creators of the protocol decided that this number of addresses would be enough with a margin.
SPOILER: they were very wrong.
How did IP addresses run out?
Since there was a limited number of addresses, the right to distribute them was assigned to five non-profit organizations responsible for their region.
For example, Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia is covered by the RIPE NCC, which has a modest office in the Netherlands.
Naturally, with the rapid development of the Internet and the advent of all kinds of gadgets, free IP addresses began to run out quickly. For example, ARIN ran out of IPv4 addresses back in 2015, and our native RIPE NCC ended up with empty pockets on November 25, 2019.
Nevertheless, the number of devices connected to the network is growing exponentially and is now measured in tens of billions. To give you an idea of the rate of growth, according to IDC, by 2025 there will be more than 152 billion IoT devices on the network, only (!) IoT devices! In 2021, there are only 10 billion of them. Total growth is expected to be 15 times in 4 years!
But how does it happen? The addresses have long run out, there are more and more smart light bulbs, and the Internet continues to work quietly for itself and no one seems to complain.
In fact, humanity has long recognized the problem of insufficient address space and solved it with the help of network address translation technology, which is called NAT – Network Address Translation.
NAT does a very simple thing – it allows you to translate your address within the local network into a global address. In essence, NAT is similar to how you used to have to dial home using a landline number.
You called your friend or girlfriend. Dad picked up the phone, you said “Masha is allowed” and dad handed the phone to the addressee. Well, or he said, “there is no Masha here, don’t call here anymore, moron,” but this is no longer relevant.
This is how NAT technology allows you to redirect a request that came to a shared IP address to the desired destination. Only instead of dad, who picked up the phone, this is done by the router.
And in principle, the technology copes with the tasks perfectly. It will allow you to keep thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of devices and websites on one IP address. And, even, to some extent, makes the network safer. But this is not accurate … The opinions of professionals on this issue differ. But in any case, everyone agrees that NAT is a crutch that complicates the work, limits and increases the load on the network.
Therefore, the only thing that really completely solves the problem is the next generation Internet protocol – IPv6, the transition to which, in terms of impact, can be compared with the transition from fixed phones per family to cell phones per user. But what is so great about the 6th generation internet protocol?
The first and main difference: IP-addresses in the new protocol became 128 bits long. This gives 2128 options for unique addresses, and this is so much for a second:
340 282 366 920 938 463 463 374 607 431 768 211 456 combinations
And that’s just 340 ounces, or 340 trillion trillion trillion. In other words, this time the guys really played it safe.
Accordingly, with a change in the length of the address, its format has also changed. The new IP address began to look a little more complicated, for example like this:
IPv6 address example
An IPv6 address now consists of 8 groups of hexadecimal numbers separated by colons.
It looks so-so, but the good news is that in such addresses you can reduce the zeros from left to right, so a large address can be written like this, which is much prettier.
IPv6 is superior to IPv4 in many ways and has a number of clear advantages. First, a wider address space, which already provides a lot of advantages:
- There will be enough addresses with a margin for many decades to come. This means that you won’t have to worry about workarounds, and you can completely get rid of NAT.
- Each of the devices connected to the network will be able to get its own “white” IP address, which is already good.
- Peer-to-peer networks will really work well, i.e. networks where devices can communicate directly with each other.
Secondly, in the new protocol they simplified and combed:
- Now addresses can be created and configured automatically, thanks to SLAAC – Stateless Address Autoconfiguration technology. This greatly simplifies network administration.
- Also in IPv6, packet headers were significantly simplified, which became easier and faster to process.
Well, they added mandatory support for IPsec traffic encryption, after all. And many many others.
But the key point is that all these small and seemingly insignificant changes actually solve big problems.
On the current Internet, you and I do not have real “white” IP addresses, so some services and protocols simply cannot work properly.
For example, in order for VoIP calls to work on mobile devices, the device has to constantly keep a connection with the SIP server, which consumes a lot of traffic and battery power. Also, any FTP, p2p networks, etc. do not work normally.
There are no such problems in IPv6, the new protocol makes each device a full-fledged participant in the Internet: devices can communicate with each other directly, even bypassing the DNS server.
In other words, the Internet that we have now cannot be called complete. Our devices do not have their own personal space on the network, they kind of rent it from providers and various services on very limited terms. The new Internet will fundamentally change and optimize the structure of the network. But that doesn’t happen.
The protocol itself was invented back in 1996.
Google began actively using IPv6 back in 2008.
And the official worldwide launch of IPv6 took place in 2012.
After the launch, all analysts insisted that within 5 years we would completely get rid of IPv4 and switch to a new protocol, but at the moment, according to Google statistics, only 30-35% of traffic falls on IPv6.
And in Russia it is generally less than 10%.
So why is the implementation rate so slow?
Let’s say IPv6 is not ideal. He has a number of serious problems.
Let’s start with the fact that it is very expensive for providers to upgrade to IPv6. It is necessary to purchase new equipment, reconfigure it and so on. Why do it if it works like that? Agree, when billions are at stake, the issue becomes very serious.
Secondly, at the moment there is still very little understanding of how to configure IPv6. And even great professionals with many years of experience have difficulties, let alone ordinary users.
Third, IPv6 is not backward compatible with IPv4. And this means that during the transition you need to work in dual-stack mode, that is, support both. And this is actually double work on tuning, a guaranteed increase in jambs and a guaranteed decrease in security. That is, the parallel operation of IPv4 and IPv6 doubles the attack surface. Because both need to be protected.
Nevertheless, all experts agree that the transition to IPv6 is inevitable, it is a matter of time. And when this transition takes place, we will finally see how the Internet should actually work.
Already now all offices of IT giants Google, Facebook, Amazon work exclusively on IPv6. Therefore, if you are suddenly responsible for the IT infrastructure within the company, it is better to take care of full IPv6 support.
And that’s all we have today.