In 1974, the first Internet Protocols were developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. Over time, these protocols were refined into the IP addresses that are used today and that many are familiar with. These protocols control the way that data is sent and received online, as well as how secure an Internet connection can be.
Known as IPv4, with the “4” representing the version number, these addresses are 32 bits long, and are often spit out as a series of numbers with periods in-between them. While IPv4 has allowed the Internet to expand a substantial amount, the number of IP addresses available is rapidly dwindling. The current protocol allows for 4.3 billion addresses to be created, but these are almost entirely used up.
To address this problem, a new protocol version, IPv6, is slowly being rolled out across the Internet. This new protocol has a number of features that set it apart from IPv4, the most significant being that it supports IP addresses that are up to 128 bits long. These will be displayed as a long string of numbers, letters, and colons, and will provide three hundred and forty trillion, trillion addresses for use.
While the current protocol is not failing in any significant way, a number of issues do exist with IPv4, beginning with the fact that what is known as Network Address Translation is now beginning to take place in some parts of the world. NAT is meant to allow multiple clients to share a single IP address, but is not always reliable and can lead to problems with Web sites and data transmission. In addition, the quality of service provided by IPv4, while making its best effort, cannot always keep up with the performance needed to ensure that applications like voice over IP, streaming video, or ecommerce apps can work as intended. IPv6 addresses this issue by inherently providing QoS that will allow for the best performance across the board. In technical terms, this is accomplished in part by a traffic-class 8-bit field in the header and a 20-bit flow label.
In many cases, users will not have to change the way they do business, alter their Internet connections, or change providers as IPv6 is designed to work almost seamlessly with existing applications. The development of this new IP started in 1994, and it is only now that the protocol is gaining ground as the need for it becomes more and more crucial. The goal of the new IP is to provide better overall Internet accessibility and connectivity for things like mobile devices, but with a minimum of conversion effort for users.
IPv6 hosting is also something that should help to improve things like VPS hosting and Web hosting services. New security protocols that have been added to the current IPv4 will come built-in to the new IP, allowing secure servers to be built more quickly and to be more easily deployed. In addition, the same QoS that will help gamers and ecommerce users stay connected will also help to keep VPS hosting options up and running and streaming Web hosting services.
The new IPv6 and IPv6 hosting provide a number of clear-cut improvements over the IP version currently being used. As the new protocol is rolled out, users should expect to see better performance from their Internet as a whole, and hosting options should become more robust as QoS levels improve and the needed security to keep them safe becomes built-in rather than an add-on as in the current model of IP designation.