What is an IP Address ?

A simple definition of an IP Address is, an identity of a device which is connected to the computer network. Full form of IP is “Internet Protocol”. An IP Address or An Internet Protocol address, is a numerical label assigned to each device connected to a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication.

IP Addresses are mostly categorised by their versions.

Two versions of the Internet Protocol are in common use in the Internet today. The original version of the Internet Protocol that was first deployed in 1983 in the ARPANET, the predecessor of the Internet, is Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4).

The rapid exhaustion of IPv4 address space available for assignment to Internet service providers and end user organisations by the early 1990s, prompted the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to explore new technologies to expand the addressing capability in the Internet. The result was a redesign of the Internet Protocol which became eventually known as Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) in 1995.[3][4][5] IPv6 technology was in various testing stages until the mid-2000s, when commercial production deployment commenced.

Today, these two versions of the Internet Protocol are in simultaneous use. Among other technical changes, each version defines the format of addresses differently. Because of the historical prevalence of IPv4, the generic term IP address typically still refers to the addresses defined by IPv4. The gap in version sequence between IPv4 and IPv6 resulted from the assignment of version 5 to the experimental Internet Stream Protocol in 1979, which however was never referred to as IPv5.

Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) defines an IP address as a 32-bit number. However, because of the growth of the Internet and the depletion of available IPv4 addresses, a new version of IP (IPv6), using 128 bits for the IP address, was developed in 1995, and standardized in December 1998. In July 2017, a final definition of the protocol was published. IPv6 deployment has been ongoing since the mid-2000s.

In IPv6, the address size was increased from 32 bits in IPv4 to 128 bits, thus providing up to 2128 (approximately 3.403×1038) addresses. This is deemed sufficient for the foreseeable future.

IPv4 addresses are usually represented in dot-decimal notation, consisting of four decimal numbers, each ranging from 0 to 255, separated by dots, e.g., 172.16.254.1. Each part represents a group of 8 bits (an octet) of the address.

Below is the examples of both the IP addresses

IPv4 : 172.16.254.1

IPv6 : 2001:db8:0:1234:0:567:8:1

Source : wikipedia.org

IP Addresses are also categorised in following groups as per network’s need and situation.

  • Local IP Address
  • Public IP Address
  • Dynamic IP Address
  • Static IP Address
  • Subnets
  • Classes

We will cover these topics in upcoming blogs.

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