IPv6 (Internet Protocol Version 6) is also called IPng (Internet Protocol next generation) and it is the newest version of the Internet Protocol (IP) reviewed in the IETF standards committees to replace the current version of IPv4 (Internet Protocol Version 4).
The official name of IPng is IPv6, where IP stands for Internet Protocol and v6 stands for version 6.
Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) is the successor to Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4). IPv6 was designed as an evolutionary upgrade to the Internet Protocol and will, in fact, coexist with the older IPv4 for some time. IPv6 is designed to allow the Internet to grow steadily, both in terms of the number of hosts connected and the total amount of data traffic transmitted.
IPv6 is an Internet Protocol (IP) for packet-switched internetworking that specifies the format of packets (also called datagrams) and the addressing scheme across multiple IP networks. In comparing the two protocols IPv6 expands upon the addressing and routing capabilities of IPv4 in a number of ways including:
Increasing the IP address pool was a major factor in the development of IPv6. The biggest benefit of IPv6 is that it will replace the IPv4 32-bit address scheme with a much longer 128-bit address scheme. The IPv4 32-bit address scheme allows for a total of 2^32 addresses while IPv6 allows for 2^128 total addresses.
IPv6 also offers additional technical advantages such simplified headers in seven fields (instead of the 13 fields in IPv4) as well as improved security with the addition of two new extension headers (authentication header and encapsulating security header).
The IETF standards committee, The IPv6 Operations Working Group (v6ops) is responsible for developing the guidelines for the operation of a shared IPv4 and IPv6 Internet. The group also provides operational guidance on how to deploy IPv6 into existing IPv4-only networks as well as into new network installations.
See also Understanding IPv6 and What is The Difference Between IPv6 and IPv4? in Webopedia’s Did You Know…? section.
Learn more about IPv6 on EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet.