A Billion Here. A Billion There. Next Thing You Know, You’ve Got 4.3 Billion. And It Turns Out That’s Not Nearly Enough!

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A Billion Here. A Billion There. Next Thing You Know, You’ve Got 4.3 Billion. And It Turns Out That’s Not Nearly Enough!

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A #Dell colleague, Dave Keller (@DaveKatDell), alerted me to a YouTube video featuring Vint Cerf, a founding father of the Internet and current Chief Internet Evangelist at Google. 

            http://del.ly/6042XmFp  

In that video, Vin Cerf explains that devices connected to the Internet are given Internet addresses like phones are given phone numbers.  That address, known as an IP address, is usually represented as a grouping of 4 numbers separated by dots, such as 192.168.0.1.   This is the default IP address of many Netgear routers such as might be used in your home.

Each of those numbers in Version 4 of the Internet Protocol (IPv4) can be a number from 0 to 255.  This means there are 256 choices for each of the 4 numbers. 

256 * 256 * 256 * 256 =  4,294,967,296

So, there are about 4.3 billion addresses available for devices to connect to the Internet.  In 1980, there were only about 280 million people in the entire United States.  4.3 billion sounds like plenty!

But how many do you use today?  Cell phone?  Laptop or Tablet?   Home computer?  Work computer?   Home Internet router?  TV?

I just named 6 possible ones.  Without going into private networks, etc., I think it is safe to say that when you are connected to the Internet, you are using an IP address. 

OK.  So what’s the big deal?  China has over a billion people.  India has over a billion people.  And according to the Vint Cerf in that same video, there are over 5 billion mobile devices in the world today.    According to Government Technology (http://del.ly/6046XoZ8),  in 2020 there will be 50 billion Internet-enabled devices in the world. To put that number in perspective, that equates to more than 6 connected devices per person.  Oops!

 But don’t worry.  Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) is rolling out.   China is actually take a lead in this.  Imagine why. 

            http://www.engadget.com/2013/03/11/chinas-new-internet-backbone-detailed-for-the-public/

            http://www.zdnet.com/blog/china/china-vows-to-accelerate-ipv6-move-to-reverse-current-disadvantages/454

4.3 billion sounded big.  Just how big is IPv6?  Almost too big to explain or to even comprehend.  It is well over one trillion times as large as IPv4.   Or, with IPv6 those 4.3 billion address available from IPv4 are available to each and every person alive.   I can almost understand and appreciate that.  But in fact, it’s much larger: over a trillion-trillion-trillion total addresses.  Or for the nerds out there, about a third of a google of addresses. 

And according to Paul Gil over at About.com “These trillions of new IPv6 addresses will meet the internet demand for the foreseeable future.”  I certainly hope that is an understatement!

            http://netforbeginners.about.com/od/i/f/ipv4_vs_ipv6.htm

If you have comments or can contribute additional information, please feel free to do so.  Thanks.  --Mark R. Fernandez, Ph.D.

#Iwork4Dell

Follow me on Twitter @MarkFatDell

  • Nice post, thanks for the shout out!  Thought I would add a bit of trivia in that that IPv6 provides address space for 340 undecillion (that is 340 with 36 zeros after it) spaces!  Hopefully that will last us a year or two.  And on a side note, Dr. Cerf and I were both guests at a meeting around 10 years ago and so I was fortunate to be seated with him for dinner.  You might imagine that we had fascinating dinner conversation about DARPA, ARPANet, or the birth of the Internet right?  Nope, we discussed the aesthetically pleasing properties of the artichoke!  Dr. Cerf is a genuinely nice guy.

  • Here is a nice IPv6 Infographic:

    del.ly/6019kecl

  • Good IPv6 Infographic

    del.ly/6011keYv