Happy World IPv6 Day – Wait, What the Heck is IPv6? A Lot of Digits, That’s For Sure!

June 8th, 2011 by - 8,603 views

Today, June 8th, is World IPv6 Day. What does that mean exactly? Well, the internet is running out of IPv4 addresses and today, some companies around the world are testing out their sites using IPv6, a networking protocol that aims to replace IPv4 in the coming years. So, today is the day to raise awareness of IPv6. It’s NOT a transition day – the transition will take years to accomplish – it IS a time to evaluate your IPv6-readiness on your sites, applications, hardware, software or anything that uses IP addressing protocols.


IPv4 Networking Protocol

IPv4 is a networking address space that most of us should be familiar with. It is a numeric, 32-bit only, and takes the form of XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX (so like There is a physical limitation to the number of IPv4 addresses you can have, 2^32 or 4,294,967,296 to be exact, and we are running out pretty quickly. Every website has an IP address bound to it. We, as consumers, are used to typing in domain names (like But what happens is that the domain name is translated into an IPv4 address (like Think of IP addresses like an “internet phone number”. Nowadays, we click on a name (e.g., a domain name) to call someone. In the past, we dialed a phone number (e.g., an IP address).

Remember, not all of those combinations can be used as some are reserved:

Reserved address blocks
CIDR address block Description Reference Current network (only valid as source address) RFC 1700 Private network RFC 1918 Loopback RFC 5735 Link-Local RFC 3927 Private network RFC 1918 Reserved (IANA) RFC 5735 TEST-NET-1, Documentation and example code RFC 5735 IPv6 to IPv4 relay RFC 3068 Private network RFC 1918 Network benchmark tests RFC 2544 TEST-NET-2, Documentation and examples RFC 5737 TEST-NET-3, Documentation and examples RFC 5737 Multicasts (former Class D network) RFC 3171 Reserved (former Class E network) RFC 1700 Broadcast RFC 919

(table source: Wikipedia)

When you think about it, Cloud Computing is burning through IP addresses pretty quickly. For example, every GoGrid customer is allocated a block of IPv4 addresses to use with their infrastructure. That’s a lot of IP addresses that we are giving away. And, as more and more sites or infrastructures are created, more IPv4 addresses are being consumed. Since there is a finite amount of these addresses, companies need to start thinking about transitioning over to the new IPv6 protocol.

Also, cell phones & other public internet-enabled devices are consuming these limited IPv4 addresses (even if using DHCP – Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol – where IP addresses are applied for a specific time duration and then released back to a pool). So, as society becomes even more internet-enabled, this pool of IPv4 availability dries up even more quickly.

Do you get the point? When you think about it, running out of IPv4 addresses is really the sign of growth and the internet is expanding. This is a good thing.

IPv6 Networking Protocol

IPv6 builds for tomorrow’s growth and beyond.  Instead of being limited to numeric addresses only, IPv6 is 128-bit and is alpha-numeric. IPv6 takes the form of:


(image source: Wikipedia)

Using “simple” math, that means that theoretically you can have 2^128 addresses or 340 undecillion (3.4 x 10^38) addresses. Let’s take a look at that number:

  • 2^128
  • 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456
  • 340 undecillion, 282 decillion, 366 nonillion, 920 octillion, 938 septillion, 463 sextillion, 463 quintillion, 374 quadrillion, 607 trillion, 431 billion, 768 million, 211 thousand and 456
  • 340 billion billion billion billion
  • 340 trillion trillion trillion

Uh…that’s a LOT of numbers!

Let’s put it another way:

  • a 70 kg body, has approximately 7×10^27 atoms in it (7 and 27 zeros)
  • there are 6.79 billion people in the world (2009 estimate)
  • that means there are 4.753*10^37 atoms in all of the people of the world
  • which means that there are 7.16 IPv6 addresses available for every atom of living people in the world

I don’t think that we will be running out of IPv6 addresses in our lifetimes!

GoGrid and IPv6

GoGrid helped with World IPv6 day. We enabled IPv6 networking within Compuware’s IPv6 Website Performance Testing Page, a GoGrid customer, where you can determine how IPv4 and IPv6-enabled websites compare in terms of site performance. GoGrid is currently executing a comprehensive IPv6 roadmap, and the Compuware development project represents a technology preview that demonstrates a complete rollout of IPv6 within GoGrid’s infrastructure.


Engineering teams from both GoGrid and Compuware collaborated to design and implement a custom solution within GoGrid’s infrastructure to allow Compuware to enable the first ever Gomez IPv6 Website performance test.

Today we issued a Press Release about our work with Gomez & Compuware related to World IPv6 Day.

Be sure that if you have an IPv6-enabled site that you run the Compuware/Gomez Performance test to see how your sites perform.

What You Can Do Now

Again, the goal of World IPv6 Day is to raise the awareness of the depletion of IPv4 addresses and to nudge companies along in their efforts to begin utilizing the new IPv6 protocols. It’s essentially a “test flight” for major web companies and other industry players to come together by enabling IPv6 on their main websites for 24 hours. If you remember the days of Y2K, this can be likened to a similar effort. No, the Internet won’t crash or stop working if you aren’t IPv6 ready today, but in order to save costs and effort in the future, companies should definitely start their long term plans and preparations of this inevitability. GoGrid, for example, expects to have IPv6 compatibility by the end of 2011.

So, take a deep breath, stop worrying about all of those IPv6 digits and what they mean, and start driving ahead in your planning for enabling IPv6 within your software, devices and infrastructure.

The following two tabs change content below.

Michael Sheehan

Michael Sheehan, formerly the Technology Evangelist for GoGrid, is a recognized technology, social media, and cloud computing pundit and blogger who writes regularly about technology news and trends.

2 Responses to “Happy World IPv6 Day – Wait, What the Heck is IPv6? A Lot of Digits, That’s For Sure!”

  1. Vladi V says:


    We are customers of GoGrid.
    We need to test out solution on virtual servers with ipv6.
    Do you already have such option availible for us?


Leave a reply