IPv6 and what it means
You have probably heard the term IPv6 floating around the internet, or even IPv4.
IPv6 in short is the succession to IPv4, the fourth iteration of the internet protocol. These schemes are IP address protocols which is the underlying technology behind the IP addresses on your home internet connection, servers and routers.
The problem is, IPv4 addresses are a finite resource and have been slowly depleting for many years now. This is mainly caused by the internet rapidly expanding over time, with more consumers accessing the internet now than ever.
More internet connected devices are spanning the globe such as internet connected toasters, refrigerators and cameras which has exacerbated the situation for the regional internet registries who hand out IP addresses to ISPs such as your broadband provider, and even ourselves as an internet hosting provider.
We received our last /22 (1,024 IPv4 addresses) from RIPE in 2013, and around that time we received our IPv6 address space. In comparison, our IPv6 address space is infinitely larger. Larger to the extent that our IPv6 allocation totals 633,825,300,114,114,700,748,351,602,688 IP addresses. Yes, that’s an awful lot.
We started work in 2015 to modify our internal systems to support IPv6, and initially started a soft rollout in our Cloud network for internal services – this proved successful however we still have some final changes to make to our virtualisation software to support larger blocks. Last month we extended this to our primary network in Hemel Hempstead where all of our shared, reseller and dedicated server customers are hosted.
Now there are certain challenges associated with handling 633,825,300,114,114,700,748,351,602,688 IP addresses. Our internal systems had to be adapted to support such large ranges and we had to work out ways to allocate these addresses to servers in a painless way. For this, we allocate a /64 (18,446,744,073,709,551,616) – [18 quintillion] IP addresses to each server. This may seem like an excessive amount of IP addresses, however this is a smaller allocation than is actually recommended.
So last week we began the initial phase of rolling out IPv6 to our shared and reseller platform. We have some work to do still before we can launch this on customer websites, but we are making good progress. The next phase involves updating a lot of our in-house developed software that is used on a daily basis by customers, such as FTP Enforcer, to support IPv6.
We are hoping for a mid-2017 release and will keep customers informed as we make progress.