One of the greatest revolutionary innovations of the twentieth century is Internet. The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet Protocol Suite (TCP/IP) to serve billions of users worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of millions of private and public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope that are linked by a broad array of electronic and optical networking technologies.
Rapidly, there is a dramatic change in the way we communicate, do business, educate ourselves and entertain ourselves. Perhaps even the architects of Internet would not have foreseen the tremendous growth rate of the network being witnessed today. It made the ‘global village utopia ‘ a reality in a rather short span of time.
Using the internet it is easy for the people to exchange ideas, resources and information. Likewise there are millions of users to the Internet and the drawback of the Internet is that it cannot adequately support many services being imagined, such as interconnection of gigabit networks with lower bandwidths, high security applications and interactive virtual reality applications.
A more serious problem with today’s Internet is that it can interconnect a maximum of four billion systems only, which is a small number as compared to the projected systems on the Internet in the twenty-first century.
As IPv4 support 32 bit address, which is given to each machine on the net and unique. With 32 bits, a maximum of about four billion addresses are possible. Even though this is a large number, but the latest trends of accessing Internet from mobile phones, TV sets, and even pizza machines will lead to the shortage of addressing bits. Since each of them must have an IP address, this number becomes too small.
The revision of IPv4 “Internet Protocol version 4” was taken up mainly to resolve the address problem, but in the course of refinements, several other features were also added to make it suitable for the next generation Internet. This refined version was initially named IPng “IP next generation” and is now officially known as IPv6.
IPv6 supports 128-bit addresses, the source address and the destination address, each being, 128 bits long. Presently, most routers run software that support only IPv4. To switch over to IPv6 overnight is an impossible task and the transition is likely to take a very long time. However to speed up the transition, an IPv4 compatible IPv6 addressing scheme has been worked out.
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