Penn Staters should prepare as Web moves to new addressing system

June 02, 2011

University Park, Pa. -- The Internet is running out of capacity for new connections. Just like each house along a street needs to have an address to communicate with the world, so, too, does each device connected to the Internet. Sometime in February of this year, the final batches of unused addresses (known as Internet Protocol, or IP, addresses) were divvied up for assignment to the exponentially growing number of Internet-connected devices worldwide.

As the number of available addresses on the old platform (called IP version 4, or IPv4 for short) quickly dwindles, plans are in the works across the globe to broadly adopt a new addressing system that will alleviate the current crunch. Known as IP version 6 (IPv6), the new system will increase the world’s capacity for new Web-connected gadgets by more than 79 billion, billion times -- enough to hand out one IP address per second (every second) for the next 100-plus years. At Penn State, work to expand with the world and adopt the new protocol has been under way for several years.

“It is expected that IPv6 will eventually replace IPv4 at Penn State,” said Steve Updegrove, senior director of Telecommunications and Networking Services. “A carefully planned adoption of the new protocol is necessary to enable the University to continue to communicate on a global level, and to allow new generations of applications and services to connect to the Internet.”

While many Web users may never even notice the transition as it happens, there could be hiccups. On June 8, many popular websites, such as Google, Facebook and Yahoo, will join together to test the new system. Dubbed “World IPv6 Day,” the 24-hour event will mark the first global-scale trial of the new, expansive addressing protocol. Faculty, staff and students who use Penn State’s network to connect to the Internet and experience any problems during this time should send an email to helpdesk@psu.edu for assistance.

Penn State Information Technology Services (ITS) is working to methodically roll out the new addressing system, which currently is functioning on the University’s statewide “backbone” network and at several Penn State locations across the commonwealth. IPv6 support is available as a fully supported service for campuses, colleges and departments through ITS; as the global transition to the new protocol continues, ensuring ongoing compatibility is crucial. IT managers who wish to begin the process of migrating to IPv6 should contact the ITS consultant assigned to their campus, college or department for initial guidance. A complete list of ITS consultants is available at http://css.its.psu.edu/node/37 online.

For general information about Penn State’s transition to IPv6, visit https://wikispaces.psu.edu/display/ipv6/IPv6+Planning online. To learn more about World IPv6 Day, visit http://isoc.org/wp/worldipv6day/ online.

Last Updated June 28, 2011