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    When Everything Has an IP Address

    By: Steve Knutson
    April 17, 2015

    Imagine if everything you worked with or sold had an IP address. How would that change what you do? What new opportunities would that provide?

    Internet_of_ThingsThe days when everything has an IP address are not far off. That fact may not mean much to you right now. But it will transform your life – both professionally and personally. I see it being the biggest transformation to the business world in recent time.

    It’s all a part of the move to what’s being called the Internet of Things (IoT), also known as Internet of Everything (IoE). IoT is really about giving “everything” a unique IP address. Today, IP addresses already are built into the newer vehicles. It won’t be long before every parking space and stoplight has an IP address. That will change how we travel, traffic and use gas.

    I’ll share below what businesses of all sizes and industries should be doing now to prepare for this dramatic shift. But first, I’ll brief you on the IP technology itself and what’s changed.

    What does IP technology do?
    An IP address, formally known as an Internet Protocol address, is a numerical label assigned to each device on a network. Think of the IP address like your house address, just on the Internet. Through an IP address, it’s possible to pinpoint the location of and differentiate literally billions of “things” that are connected to the Internet and know what they are.

    We actually already ran out of these public IP addresses and companies developed private networks to share IP addresses within their organization. But these private networks cannot handle the explosion of smartphones and use of other IoT devices. Those devices need public IP addresses.

    That led to the development and launch of a new version of IP known as IPv6. Under the previous version (called IPv4), there were 32 bits of addresses or 4 billion IP addresses. That soars to 128 bits in the latest version, or the equivalent of 340 trillion trillion trillion. (No, that’s not a typo. There are so many that it actually takes multiples of trillion.) We likely will not run out - at least not in my lifetime.

    Steps to Be Ready

    So how do you prepare for a world that operates on IP addresses?

    • Gear: All networking gear (switches, routers, etc.) soon will need to be IPv6 compliant. Plan for making the change and the associated costs.
    • Understand IoT: The impact of IoT cannot be overstated and it is imminent. Take the time to understand this trend. Read articles about it and stay in tune to the developments.
    • Adding IPs: IoT creates a new class of "intelligent devices" that are interconnected and analyze data collected in real-time. It will affect what you sell and what you buy. Identify how the addition of IP addresses to what you sell will change how your business operates in the next five years. Plan for the new opportunities it could provide.
    • Staffing: Consider what positions will need to be changed or added in your organization to communicate how the IP addresses work in your products – to both staff and clients.

    The challenge is not as much the change in technology as it is the rate at which the change will happen. Terms like IPv6 may sound techie, but they will become as common in everyday language as the Internet and Wi-Fi.

    Topics: Networking