The BBC is running a lead story this morning that talks about the move from IPv4 to IPv6. Somewhat disconcertingly, the 'Beeb' only gets around to defining the difference between the two protocols in a box out somewhere down the page, but that is not the point of my blog.
But let's just pay lip service to IPv4 and IPv6 first.
IPv4 is the 32-bit system designed to identify unique connections to the network (for the most part, the Internet) and in its 12-digit form (e.g. 172.16.254.1) it provides just over four billion addresses.
IPv6 being 128-bit is written in hexadecimal and so gives a maximum of 340 undecillion possible addresses.
Undecillion is 10 to the power of 36 and it comes in just under duodecillion (10 to the power of 39) tredecillion (10 to the power of 42) and quattuordecillion (10 to the power of 45).
So what you say? What will an undecillion network addresses give us?
It's the so-called 'Internet of Things' right? The point at which your milk carton has an RFID tag on it to let your electronically enabled fridge know that it has gone off. Your fridge (which is Internet-connected of course) then automatically orders your online shopping account to send you new milk and your auto-payment system takes that out of your bank account. All you have to do is pick your milk up at the door, open the carton and pour it into your PG Tips -- nothing more.
But are we ready for all this? Are developers ready for this? Are web developers ready for this? Are manufacturers ready for this? Are the world's major IT vendors ready for this?
Answer: umm, probably not.
Today is actually World IPv6 Day as we test the water.