The Internet Protocol (IP) is a protocol used for communicating data across a packet-switched internetwork using the Internet Protocol Suite, also referred to as TCP/IP.
IP is the primary protocol in the Internet Layer of the Internet Protocol Suite and has the task of delivering distinguished protocol datagrams (packets) from the source host to the destination host solely based on their addresses. For this purpose the Internet Protocol defines addressing methods and structures for datagram encapsulation. The first major version of addressing structure, now referred to as Internet Protocol Version 4 (Ipv4) is still the dominant protocol of the Internet, although the successor, Internet Protocol Version 6 (Ipv6) is being deployed actively worldwide.
Introduction to IPv6
The current version of the Internet Protocol (known as IP version 4 or IPv4) has not been substantially changed since RFC 791 was published in 1981. IPv4 has proven to be robust, easily implemented and interoperable, and has stood the test of scaling an internetwork to a global utility the size of today's Internet. This is a tribute to its initial design.
IPv6 stands for Internet Protocol version 6. This technology is designed to replace the existing IPv4 with improved address space, service, and data. Internet Protocol version 6 is meant to allow anyone who wants to use the Internet the capability to do s
However, the initial design did not anticipate:
The recent exponential growth of the Internet and the impending exhaustion of the IPv4 address space. IPv4 addresses have become relatively scarce, forcing some organizations to use a network address translator (NAT) to map multiple private addresses to a single public IP address. While NATs promote reuse of the private address space, they do not support standards-based network layer security or the correct mapping of all higher layer protocols and can create problems when connecting two organizations that use the private address space. Additionally, the rising prominence of Internet-connected devices and appliances assures that the public IPv4 address space will eventually be depleted.
The growth of the Internet and the ability of Internet backbone routers to maintain large routing tables. Because of the way in which IPv4 network IDs have been and are currently allocated, there are routinely over 70,000 routes in the routing tables of Internet backbone routers. The current IPv4 Internet routing
The need for simpler configuration. Most current IPv4 implementations must be configured either manually or through a stateful address configuration protocol such as Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). With more computers and devices using IP, there is a need for a simpler and more automatic configuration of addresses and other configuration settings that do not rely on the administration of a DHCP infrastructure.
The requirement for security at the IP level.
Private communication over a public medium like the Internet requires encryption services that protect the data sent from being viewed or modified in transit. Although a standard now exists for providing security for IPv4 packets (known as Internet Protocol security or IPSec), this standard is optional and proprietary solutions are prevalent.
The need for better support for real-time delivery of data (also known a quality of service). While standards for quality of service (QoS) exist for IPv4, real-time traffic support relies on the IPv4 Type of Service (TOS) field and the identification of the payload, typically using a UDP or TCP port. Unfortunately, the IPv4 TOS field has limited functionality and has different interpretations. In addition, payload identification using a TCP and UDP port is not possible when the IPv4 packet payload is encrypted.
To address these concerns, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has developed a suite of protocols and standards known as IP version 6 (IPv6). This new version, previously named IP-The Next Generation (IPng), incorporates the concepts of many proposed methods for updating the IPv4 protocol. IPv6 is intentionally designed for minimal impact on upper and lower layer protocols by avoiding the arbitrary addition of new features.
Why IPv6 ls needed?
It is expected that some time in the years of 2006/2007 we will definitely run out of IPv4 address space. In Asia the available IPv4 address space is already exhausted. This is why many Asian ISPs have already begun to roll out IPv6 commercially. IPv4 offers less than one IP address per person living on this planet and therefore we need a new version with a larger address space. With the new types of services that we will have in the future we will not only need IP addresses for personal computers and servers, but for all sorts of devices, like mobile phones, cars, refrigerators, TV-sets, sensor systems, home games and many more. The answer to that challenge is IPv6.
IPv6 offers a new, clean, well designed protocol stack which implements all the features of security (IPsec), Quality of service (Diffserv and intserv (flowlabel)) and configuration (auto-configuration). All applications that are known on IPv4 can be ported to IPv6, with additional features if required. IPv6 is also designed taking into account the mobile networks, which are expected to be ubiquitous networks of the future providing always on-line, anytime and anywhere. IPv6 is considered to be the backbone of the future information society.
Here is a list of facts and reasons for IPv6:
- No IPv4 addresses available anymore (will happen sometimes between 2006 and 2010 in Europe)
- The number of mobile devices and devices with embedded Internet stacks will grow by magnitudes over the following years (the ongoing use of IPv4 would create poorly interconnected islands of IP networks with limited mobility and security between them)
- IPv6 is MANDATORY for the 3GPP UMTS IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) in release 5
- IPv6 brings better support for security, quality of service and mobility
- IPv6 reduces OPEX of IP networks through better design and the auto configuration features
- IPv6 enables ubiquitous networks of the future providing always on-line, anytime and anywhere
- IPv6 enables ubiquitous/pervasive computing and with this a huge amount of new business opportunities and changes in existing business models
- IPv6 is considered as the backbone of the future information society
- (And last but not least) IPv6 is here, supported in all kinds of devices and ready to be used! And it will (soon) come and it's better to be prepared for it!
This the new IPv6 protocol suite by comparing, where possible, the IPv6 protocol suite to similar features or concepts that currently exist in IPv4. This paper discussed how IPv6 resolves IPv4 protocol design issues, the new IPv6 header and extension headers, ICMPv6 (the replacement for ICMP for IPv4), MLD (the replacement for IGMP for IPv4), IPv6 Neighbor Discovery processes that manage interaction between neighboring IPv6 nodes, IPv6 address autoconfiguration, and IPv6 routing. While not in prevalent use today, the future of the Internet will be IPv6-based. It is important to gain an understanding of this strategic protocol to begin planning for the eventual transition to IPv6.