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Essay Paper on IPv6

The promise of IPv6 lies in its vastly increased IP address space, and the resulting opportunity for us to abandon Network Address Translation (NAT) and clear the fog on the Internet which obscures our vision for global peer-to-peer networking. The true potential of this enormous address space, not to mention restored transparency, is impossible to predict, particularly when such unimaginable numbers and technologies are involved. However, some very impressive examples have already been proposed (and in fact implemented) by the proponents and early adopters of IPv6.Tiny sensors and devices are being developed in many forms, which will eventually surround us and provide new ways to both see and control our world. Sony too has recently entered the fray, by announcing that all of its devices will be IPv6-enabled in future. These are surely exciting developments.

Another IPv6 revelation came to me with the understanding that with 3G wireless technologies, the vast majority of connected devices will not be phones at all, but rather data-only devices of many different kinds. The advent of Bluetooth for Wireless Personal Area Networking (WPAN) and the proliferation of 802.11 for public access LANs (and indeed, even for “Free to air” packet-based metropolitan area networking), are also significant developments. These new wireless delivery technologies give us a fresh glimpse of how IPv6 will be pushed out into the environment around us, as a truly pervasive technology.

These revelations paint a picture of the IPv6 Internet connecting people not only with PCs, but with PD As, cameras, cars, robots, toys, appliances, personal health and medical devices, micromechanical systems, and an unimaginable variety of special-purpose sensors, agents, embedded systems, and similar devices. With mass fabrication of chipsets, IPv6 will be built into every device, machine, and component imaginable. With each generation of general-purpose technology, new devices will naturally acquire the ability to fulfill more and more functions. Indeed, with wired and wireless connections to clusters of neighboring devices, many such devices will be called on to act as hubs or routers for tiny distributed systems, each fulfilling general or special purposes.

One thing which eludes my imagination for the moment is the question of how all of these devices will be connected to the Internet via service providers. Will we see a small number of mega-carriers, each providing connectivity to an unlimited range of different devices and services; or instead a proliferation of special-purpose network providers deployed to provide connectivity to specific geographical areas, customer groups, specific-brand appliances, services or other divisions of the marketplace? Will we see a resurgence of off the shelf ISP technologies allowing non-Internet companies to provide their own private access services to their own customers?

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Will corporations and private ISPs use the Internet itself to create a plethora of IPv6 Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), each carrying its own traffic of private and sensitive data? Will our homes and offices be serviced by one or two ISPs, or by literally hundreds? I fully expect that all of the above will occur in some form or other, in large numbers and in a variety of combinations. And again, there will always be new technologies, implementations and business models, ready to alter the shape of the landscape yet again. It will never be a question of which technology is objectively the best or most sensible, but of which technologies are the most available, accessible, appealing, flexible and/or cost-effective for their chosen purposes

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