If you are a small or medium sized business owner, change within the web hosting industry is probably NOT at the top of your list of most important world events. But it sure should be. The web hosting industry makes the difference between web success and a “down in flames” scenario that you don’t even want to think about. The world wide web is the place where entrepreneurs have the opportunity to build a successful business for just a few bucks by utilizing a web hosting account. The W3 has changed everything, which is why many business owners are paying attention to web hosting providers and talking about the changes that are occurring.
Introducing the Search Engine
The first search engine was introduced by Yahoo in 1994 and as soon as Yahoo released this now-essential tool, the already explosive growth of the Internet spiraled upward at an even faster rate. Search engines, like Google (the 800-pound gorilla of search engines) provide the “address” of the web site that contains the information or products you’re looking for. Prior to 1994, we were all wondering around the web without a road map or an address book.
The Web Hosting Industry
The Internet and the world wide web is the most dynamic and fastest growing market the world has ever seen. Twenty years ago, web sites were vanguard and it was unusual to see a business with its own web site. Today, it is expected for a business to have a web site and business owners should always have their own personalized email address, such as [email protected] With a very low investment, anyone can have their own domain name, a web page on the Internet and their own personalized email address. This way, almost any business can reach a very large market directly, quickly and economically, no matter how large or the location of the business. With a very small investment, almost anybody that can read and write can have access to the world wide web. And in order to setup a web site, most business owners have chosen to hire a web hosting company to host their web data.
What is an IP address?
Internet Protocol (IP) addresses are like phone numbers, but for computers on the Internet. Every computer on the Internet needs an IP address in order to communicate with other computers and services. The number of addresses available is finite and defined by the protocol version. IP addresses make the difference between Internet traffic that is error-free and accessible, and the other scenario that we don’t like to think about. IP addresses establish the Internet and are responsible for addressing and routing Internet traffic.
The Internet promises unlimited connectivity, but such connectivity requires that computers and devices find one another through a common address plan. The current plan, referred to as IPv4, has been in place since the late 1970s, but is running dangerously low of available IP addresses. A new scheme called IPv6 is being put into place to power the Internet’s next stage of growth. For small businesses that plan for the future, this shift can enhance computing security, application reliability and performance. But waiting until the last minute could leave a business owner scrambling for costly equipment updates, and possibly missing an opportunity to turn necessary change into a business advantage.
Internet growth = Low supply of available IPv4
For over 10 years, warnings about the limited size of IPv4 address space have circulated and the goal has been to replace IPv4 with IPv6. While this is no secret for most engineers, however, currently IPv6 addresses are only used by a few operators even though IPv4 addresses are now exhausted. If you have your web site hosted with a dedicated IP address, you will most likely notice the price of that dedicated IP address increase. IP addresses are in low demand and web hosting companies are having difficulties obtaining large blocks of IPv4 addresses.
The evolution of the Internet and movement towards IPv6
As with the lead-up to Y2K (remember that?), vendors and service providers will do most of the hard work that is required to transition to an IPv6 Internet. ISPs will lead consumers, while large corporations will have teams dedicated to the change from IPv4 to IPv6.
As a small business owner, you will need to be sure that all network equipment and software is ready, updated, and switched over at the same time when IPv6 comes. Planning ahead will help prevent interruptions to the critical connections that take place via the Internet. It will also allow you to buy equipment and services at negotiated prices rather than on an emergency, cost-is-no-object basis.
Is my company IPv6 ready?
If your company has recently purchased equipment for its network, including routers, switches, security devices, printers, photocopiers, or fax machines, then it is very likely to already be IPv6-capable. If the equipment is between two and five years old, it might have some IPv6 capabilities. If the hardware is more than five years old, however, then its readiness is a toss up, and the switch to IPv6 is a strong reason to upgrade network equipment.
Is my web site IPv6 ready?
If you are a webmaster, most likely your web site has not yet been transferred to the next generation of Internet addresses. Service providers are finding it necessary to impose higher prices for IPv4 addresses for the simple reason that there are just not many left. Again, the law of supply and demand has come into play.
Advantages of IPv6
IPv6 benefits will include a level of security baked into the protocol. IPv4 was designed for an “age of innocence” with a small Internet population. IPv6 is for a larger, more cynical age, so it carries capabilities for verifying addresses and known identities, with the ability to establish more trust between routers. It should become harder, for example, for criminals to use “address spoofing” attacks, where web sites or e-mail messages misrepresent where they come from.
Plan ahead for success
The key to long-term web success is planning ahead for change. How you position your business is just as important as your product or service. On the world wide web, planning ahead for the future says it all. Change in the web hosting industry is coming and some might say, even constant.