As reported on Ars Technica, the Internet is about to run out of addresses and will require a complete gutting and reconfiguring for continued growth in the second half of the 2010s and beyond. Although it was initially hoped this overhaul of the internet could happen quietly in the background, it is now clear that the change from the current Internet Protocol version 4 to the new version 6 will be tough. Even though IPv4 and IPv6 are very much alike to users and applications, they are
completely separate and do not interact.
“The problem with this approach is that the first person who wants to turn off IPv4 has to wait for the last person to add IPv6. It’s like having a cell phone network that is not connected to the landline network. Everyone has to have both types of phones, with the expectation that in the far future, we can turn off the landlines and just use cell phones. And with cell phones, there is actually an advantage to switching: no cord. (Although landlines have some advantages, too.) With IPv6, there are no real advantages to switching for most users, who tend to be unimpressed by technological elegance and future-proofness.
All of this makes the transition to IPv6 like the trackstand strategy in match sprint track cycling, where competitors try to get their opponents to take the lead by not moving themselves. Once the opponent is in the lead, the “winner” of the trackstand can take advantage of the opponent’s slipstream and keep up with reduced effort. After a decade of trackstanding, the migration towards IPv6 is finally starting to get underway, but unfortunately the progress comes way too late to avoid problems when the IPv4 addresses run out. But we’ll come back to that. First, let’s have a look at some of the differences between IPv4 and IPv6 that get in the way of an easy transition.