You're gonna need a much bigger boat

Posted by Graeme Gordon

24/10/19 10:11

Guess what?

From this point forward you will need more storage, more capacity, more resilience, more security – it is all about more, more of the time and the Internet has and is driving much of this - but in itself the Internet is not an infinite resource.


One of the things IFB understood early on as an ISP was that the management and conservation of IP addresses – the magic numbers that you need to connect your stuff or your business to the Internet – was very important. More devices, mobile devices, always-on connections, Internet demographics and inefficient address use all have an impact on these magic numbers.

First– and important - IPv4, which the Internet has been running on since we have all been using it, only has roughly 4.3billion available addresses. At the start, this seemed to be enough but remember we lived in a time when we had quotes like this –

" I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse. "

Robert Metcalfe, founder of 3Com, 1995

(God bless Robert - who also invented Ethernet - amazing - and is speaking next week at the 50th anniversary of the Internet at UCLA. (His howlers are of legend, but he is not alone)

If the numbers are so big why the need to manage these? Simple – it makes for a more manageable and secure environment for everyone to live and work in. Giving everything everywhere an IP address that connects it directly to the rest of the world is messy and dangerous, so you need some smart folks (us) doing smart things in between you and the rest of the planet. As a Local Internet Registry – an ISP in a region given authority to allocate blocks of Internet IP addresses to our end users and customers – a big part of IFB's job is to play our part in creating and maintaining reliable, secure connections for our customers and everyone else we connect to globally.

Back in 1998, IFB were, I suppose, thinking about this Internet of Things before this was a thing and we were considering the impact it could have on us and our customers. That's why we were one of the first ISP’s to adopt IPv6 as a protocol and make it available to our customers. IPv6 is the next stages of the Internet’s infrastructure, designed to be more secure and as importantly provide a greater IP address range to accommodate the scale and demand for stuff being connected.

So how big is big? Well the total number of possible IPv6 addresses is more than 7.9×1028 times as many as IPv4 – which for most of us doesn’t mean much, it is not tangible and will make your head hurt so I did a chart.

IFB IPv4 vs IPv6There – much easier to get your head round.

As we move toward the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Internet next week in California, we are proud that IFB has played our part in being part of the Internet for the last 23 years and very excited and ready for the 50 years.


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