It's almost time to get serious about IPv6, sports fans, whether you like it or not. Are you ready?
Numerous ways have been implemented to stretch the limited address space of IPv4 -- the "classic" dotted decimal that defined the gold rush days of the Internet. However, only 6 percent of the available address block is not currently allocated, and experts say that could be exhausted by summer 2011.
Given the explosion of Internet use overseas, and the insane proliferation of mobile devices, it's surprising we've managed to forestall this as long as we have, with the help of tricks such as CIDR (Classless Inter-Domain Routing) and NAT (Network Address Translation). IPv6 was first defined in 1996. Some applications need to be rethought to work with it; others won't notice any difference.
The U.S. government upgraded its network backbones to IPv6 a couple of years ago, and is taking on the challenge of transitioning connected systems to IPv6, according to a directive issued at the end of September 2010 by federal CIO Vivek Kundra. His plan calls for the public-facing side of "FedNet" to be using IPv6 as an operational protocol by the end of September 2012; the government's internal systems have to be using IPv6 by September 2014.
For more, read the eWeek article Ready or Not, Here's IPv6.