For more than three years a variety of groups within the Internet community have been working towards a new generation IP protocol. IP is the lowest level protocol in the Internet protocol suite. Consequently it forms the foundation on which most other Internet protocols are built and its ability to meet the needs of existing and new Internet users and applications underpins the future of the entire Internet protocol suite.
Work began on a replacement for IP because growth in the Internet threatened to exhaust the supply of addresses, particularly address for organisations with more than 256 nodes. Although temporary measures have managed to extend the life of the current 32-bit internet address structure beyond several apocalyptic predictions members of the IETF believe that the limitations of the current version of IP, IPv4 (IP version 4) mean that it can not meet all the needs of future internet users.
These needs include: