An area of interest for me is the adoption of IPv6 which “Internet2 is working to realize the potential of IPv6 for the global Internet community.” Internet2 (2010). Without the adoption of IPv6, there will eventually be no possibility to add further network connections to the global Internet, with a direct impact on eCommerce.
IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) is designed to replace IPv4 which is in common use on the Internet. IPv4 has a limited number of possible addresses being commonly used throughout top-level networks. For example, in simplistic terms IPv4 has the make up of 4 sets of digits such as 192.168.0.1 with each set having a maximum value of 255 giving 255 x 255 x 255 x 255 = 4,228,250,625 possible combinations, a number that it is expected to be reached by 2012. Therefore should we not adopt a new way of network addressing, it is possible that no new network devices will be able to function after this number is reached. Hence the birth of IPv6, which, based on a hexadecimal system, not only enables many more addresses (340,282,366,920,938,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) addressing the IPv4 exhaustion problem. “The future of the Internet lies in Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), with its ability to use 128-bit addresses instead of the 32-bit addressing of IPv4. This vastly increases the number of addresses available from about 4 billion to approximately 340 trillion trillion trillion.” Internet2 (2009)
The address exhaustion issue is not the only issue address by the new work. IPv6 has also been developed to improve speed and network manageability (amongst other areas). In my experience, management of IP addresses and Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) servers has been a time and cost intensive task at enterprise level and one which affects the performance of connected devices and being the cause of user frustration or a lack of connectivity where resources are stretched or errors occur. Under IPv6, DHCP become almost unnecessary as it is possible to auto-configure every device on the global network individually.
In addition, due to the number of possible addresses, it becomes less likely that device scanning to identify weak security on devices will yield results “With IPv6, that is simply impossible: even with a billion infected hosts each scanning a billion IPv6 addresses per second, it takes more than a hundred million years to scan just the IPv6 address space that’s given out to ISPs right now, which is about 0.01 percent of what’s available.” Beijnum I (2007)
Adoption of the IPv6 protocol is in all our interests to keep the Internet growing and increase speed, however most organisations are being slow to adopt. Internet2 being amongst the first.
Beijnum I (2007), Everything you need to know about IPv6 [Online]. Available at http://arstechnica.com/hardware/news/2007/03/IPv6.ars/3 (Accessed 8 August 2010).
Laudon & Traver (2010) E-Commerce: Business. Technology. Society. (6th Edition). Prentice Hall.
Internet2 (2010), IPv6 [Online]. Available at http://ipv6.internet2.edu/ (Accessed 8 August 2010).
Internet2 (2009), Case Study: KanREN Community Experiences Early IPv6 Adoption [Online]. Available at http://www.internet2.edu/pubs/200904-CS-KAN-IPv6.pdf (Accessed 8 August 2010).