IT IS PARTY TIME for fans of internet protocols, it's IPv6 launch day, the day that we celebrate the very real prospect of having more internet addresses.
IPv6 is the next generation of internet addresses that will save the planet from a situation where toasters cannot have their own IP addresses and where firms that have land-grabbed IPv4 addresses can sell them for a profit.
To put the situation into context, imagine the internet as the UK and IPv4 addresses as flags. Now imagine that almost everyone in the UK wants to wave a flag at the same time - it's hard we know, but give it a go. If everyone that wants one has a flag in their hands, but there are no more flags available that's where we are with IPV4.
But, what if more people wanted to wave flags, what if they wanted to hang them off their homes, off their cars, and off their fridges? That's a lot more flags, more than IPv4 would allow for, so alternative flags would be needed. These alternative flags are IPv6.
Google explains it better, probably. It says that IPv6 expands the available web address space from a number that we might possibly comprehend to one that only grains of sand can relate to.
"The Internet we've relied on so far has space for 2^32 addresses - about 4.3 billion," it says in an IPv6 Day blog post signed by its internet evangelist, Vint Cerf. "The new, larger IPv6 expands the limit to 2^128 addresses - more than 340 trillion, trillion, trillion!"
World IPv6 launch day is light on cake and focuses on testing. Firms including Google will permanently launch their IPv6 networks today and watch how a system that runs both IPv6 and IPv4 works. The tests should not impact users, but will give those firms that are running dual networks an insight into performance.
"If IPv6 isn't implemented you'd soon have to share a single address with multiple people or even a whole neighborhood. This tangled, constrained Internet would be unsafe and unsustainable," added Cerf.
"Complete transition will take time. Some users may need to upgrade their home routers or possibly download updated operating system software to enable IPv6 in parallel with IPv4. If you're interested in when you'll get IPv6 connectivity (if you don't have it already), we encourage you to reach out to your ISP and ask."
Google is not the only firm involved. Others include Comcast, Cisco, Bing, Yahoo, AT&T and Facebook. µ