The Internet is one of the greatest revolutionary innovations
of the twentieth century.It made the 'global village utopia ' a reality in a rather
short span of time. It is changing the way we interact with each other, the way
we do business, the way we educate ourselves and even the way we entertain ourselves.
Perhaps even the architects of Internet would not have foreseen the tremendous
growth rate of the network being witnessed today. With the advent of the Web and
multimedia services, the technology underlying the Internet has been under stress.
It cannot adequately support many services being envisaged, such as real time
video conferencing, interconnection of gigabit networks with lower bandwidths,
high security applications such as electronic commerce, and interactive virtual
reality applications. A more serious problem with today's Internet is that it
can interconnect a maximum of four billion systems only, which is a small number
as compared to the projected systems on the Internet in the twenty-first century.
machine on the net is given a 32-bit address. With 32 bits, a maximum of bout
billion addresses is possible. Though this is a large a number, soon the Internet
TV sets, and even pizza machines connected to it, and since each
of them must have an IP
address, this number becomes too small. The revision
of IPv4 was taken up mainly to resolve
the address problem, but in the course
of refinements, several other features were also added
to make it suitable
for the next generation Internet. This version was initially named IPng (IP
generation) and is now officially known as IPv6. IPv6 supports 128-bit addresses,
source address and the destination address, each being, 128 bits long.
IPv5 a minor variation
of IPv4 is presently running on some routers. Presently,
most routers run software that support only IPv4. To switch over to IPv6 overnight
is an impossible task and the transition is likely to take a very long time.