It’s official. Internet Protocol version 4, or IPv4, which accommodates 4.3 billion addresses is dead, swept aside by the web's gatekeepers for IPv6.
"This is one of the most important days in the history of the Internet. A pool of more than 4 billion Internet addresses has just been emptied this morning," said Rod Beckstrom, chief executive of the Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers or ICANN at a press conference (above) yesterday.
"There are now 2 billion people who connect to the Internet. We've got 6 billion people in the world who want to connect themselves and their devices. That is simply not possible with IPv4. It's just not doable," added Olaf Kolkman, chairman of the Internet Architecture Board. "The business impact if you don't make the transition is the next 2 or 3 billion customers will run IPv6 only and will not be able to do business with you."
It’s a generational seachange and the Internet Society that oversees Internet standards and advocacy issues is organizing World IPv6 Day on June 8. On that day, Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Akamai and Limelight Networks and other major online organisations will offer their content over IPv6 for a 24-hour "test flight".
Assuming it's successful, it should motivate other web organizations – Internet service providers, hardware makers, operating system vendors and web companies – to prepare their services for IPv6 to ensure a successful transition as IPv4 addresses run out.
IPv4 was created in 1977 when the thought of needing more than 4.3 billion addresses — the theoretical limit possible based on a 32-bit addressing system — was inconceivable.
Experts, such as Google's chief web evangelist Vint Cerf (below) saw it coming and lobbied for a systemic shift as far back as 1998, when IPv6 was first established as a standard, but little heed was paid as things were working fine and costs to adjust infrastructure are very high.
Looks like the “Internet of things” will have to pause until June for this most basic plumbing transition as “address exhaustion” brings the web into the brave new world of IPv6.