Network equipment maker Cisco today announced support for a carrier-grade version of Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), the new internet addressing scheme that will allow the internet to continue to grow.
Cisco's new carrier-grade product will allow network operators to add IPv6 support for core and edge network routers. "These new additions provide a cost-effective and efficient means to bridge to a full IPv6 next-generation network while extending the life of existing IPv4 addresses to smoothly manage that migration," Cisco said at the launch.
However, the two schemes are not directly compatible, and must be translated for each other, hence the need for large-scale network address translation (LSN) primarily in the core network, and less so at the network edge.
Today's announcement fleshes out Cisco's IPv6 product line and capabilities. Nearly all its routers and switches now provide dual stack, IPv4-over-IPv6, and IPv6-over-IPv4 tunneling technologies with LSN capabilities to help migration to an all-IPv6 network.
Every device connected to the internet needs an internet address so that it can send and receive messages. The increase in the number of devices on the internet over the past 40 years means that the four billion addresses available under the present IPv4 addressing scheme are almost all allocated.
The internet is expected to run out of addresses in 2011 unless internet service providers start to support the new scheme.
The new scheme provides 3.4x1038 new addresses. This extra capacity is essential for the development of "the internet of things", in which machines will talk to machines, largely without human interference.