The limitations of the Internet Protocol (IP) numbering scheme became apparent this week as it emerged that additional numbers will be added during the course of this year. Present IP numbers are in the familiar 184.108.40.206.10 format but that will be supplanted because of pressure from the Web.
A proposal on IP version 6.0, supplanting version 4.0, will come into effect this year because of the sheer number of people expected to use the Internet over the next three years. Much of the pressure is due to the large number of corporate users joining the Internet goldrush.
William Stallings, author of a white paper from the IEEE standards organisation, said: ?The driving force behind the development of a new IP is the stark fact that the world is running out of IP addresses for networked devices. The fixed 32-bit address length of IP is inadequate for the explosive growth of networks.?
That was borne out by Trevor Dearing, product manager at Bay Networks UK. He said: ?The present numbering system is already a problem and will become worse. At the moment it?s 32 bits but with IP 6 you can have 128 bits and have enough addresses for every man, woman and child on the planet in the foreseeable future."
He said the decision to move from the 32-bit IP model to 128 bits was also driven by the need for mobile communications and for security. The introduction of the revised IP during the course of this year will mean changes on the software front, Dearing warned. ?It?s a whole new piece of software, a new stack. We?ll see IP 6 in the core in the routers,? he said.
Many Internet service providers (ISPs) found themselves restricted because although, in theory, they had plenty of numbers in the range they had bought, they were certain to run out in the future. ?We [the industry] are just about out of most of these and there?s not a lot left,? he said.
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