When the internet was first invented IP addresses looked like this: 220.127.116.11. However an IP address is actually a big number, a 32 bit unsigned integer which means that it’s a number that ranges from 0 to 4294967295. So intuitively you can figure out that the maximum number of machines that can exist on the Network at any one time is 4,294,967,296.Many of the IP addresses are used for internal and other things so the world is left with far fewer addresses.
In the January 1993 issue of Computer Communication Review an article titled “Extending the IP Internet Through Address Reuse.” This evolved into what we today know as Network Address Translation or NAT. NAT has been widely adopted and lets us reuse IP addresses in the legacy IPv4 addressing system.
Around 1994, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) started work on IP version 6 (IPv6) which gives us a lot more addresses. IP version 6 gives us a total of 340282366920938463463374607431768211456 addresses. There are claims that that is enough addresses for every grain of sand on Earth to have it’s own IP address with space left over for another 340 billion planets to have IP addresses for their grains of sand too. But you get the idea – it solves the problem of an IP address shortage with room to spare.
So, what does that all mean to you as a web site owner or even just an internet browser? It means that as as the new IP address implementation is rolled out some web sites and even some entire networks will stop working. As a web site operator you should educate yourself on the timeline and necessary steps that you will need to take with your site.