IPv6 is version 6 of the Internet Protocol and is also known as "IP Next Generation"(IPng). It has been in development since the early '90's and is beginning to see the light of day.
So why do we need a new implementation of the Internet Protocol? In a nutshell, we will soon run out of addresses. IP has been around for almost 30 years and in recent times has become a standard. Coupled with the growth of the internet, this has led to a rapidly declining number of available addresses and it has been predicted that we will run out of addresses in the year 2010. Many would venture that it will be sooner than this. IPv4 only supports an address space of 4,294,967,296 while IPng supports addresses which are four times the number of bits as IPv4 addresses and provides for a theoretical limit of 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 addresses! In addition, IPv6 attempts to make network addressing easier.
Another pressing reason for the upgrade is that with the new internet and network applications are being developed that require modern methods of delivery, routing and security. IP has not been substantially modified since 1981 and a lot has happened technologically since then.
Many people may not be aware that IPng is already in use today, although on a fairly small scale. An increasing number of softare manufacturers are providing support for IPv6 as of today despite the fact that it is not yet being used on a wide basis. Translation has been developed for compatibility with current standards which allows IPv6 and IPv4 networks to communicate by translating packet headers as they cross between IPv4 and IPv6 networks.
So how might you use all of this to your advantage in the marketplace? It is a chance to really get ahead if you educate yourself early on. Transitioning to IPv6 will be a huge undertaking and one that could make a person very successful if they were one of the relatively few that possessed considerable knowledge early on. While there appears to be a lack of any firm adoption date, the continued exponential growth of the internet will probably force the issue sooner rather than later. This means that now is the time to begin learning IPng.