Day 5— CS Fundamentals December — About Networking — An Intro to IP addressing

I don’t think I need to emphasize how crucial IP addresses are a part of networking as a topic.

Every person who has computer or infact, internet, has heard this term “IP address” and that clearly justifies the prominence of this term and requirement of it’s knowledge in the field of Networking.

So, through this article, I will be presenting a good insight into IP addresses and the working involved and some other things around it involved.

Let’s dive in!


Data moves from one place to another in a network. More precisely, it moves from one computer to another.

But how does the data reach the right computer while travelling? How does it know that which computer it is supposed to reach? How will the receiver computer know about who sent this data packet?

Answers to all of these questions — IP addresses

IP addresses uniquely distinguishes computers in a network.

Every device (not only computer) in the cloud involved with internet has a unique IP address with which you send stuff to it like files, text, any data basically.

So, Yash! Does this mean that the computer I use in my home also has a unique IP because it also is involved with internet? :/

Umm. Yes and No.

The IP addressing involved with your home devices is more involved with your “router” / “MODEM” you have which provides you internet at home than the devices themselves.

So, technically, at your home, every device connected to that router and hence, internet “does have” an IP address but it is called “private IP address” and visually, it is NOT unique.

I will be hitting this topic in the article (probably next one ;) ) where I will talk about “Network Address Translation”, an extremely cool topic.

What does an IP address look like?

Example of an IPv4 address ->

Example of an IPv6 address -> 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a1e:7370:2334

What is an IPv4 address, you ask?

It is basically a 32-bit number or a group of four 8-bit numbers separated by dots which is used identify the devices in a network uniquely

Every dot-separted number can have the value from 0 to 255.

What is an IPv6 address, then?

It is a 128-bit alphanumeric string denoting an address which every device in a network can use to identify itself uniquely.

Do we have enough IP addresses?

So, since the starting, IPv4 addresses have been used.

And in IPv4 addresses, every dot-separated number can have a value from 0 to 255.

Hence, the number of possible IP address are -> 256 x 256 x 256 x 256 = 4,294,967,296

Pretty huge number right? Seems like it’s more than enough for the entirety of humankind.

Actually not. See, when the IP addresses came into play, no one even closely thought of any other device apart from general computer to use IP address.

But then, technology happened.

And hence, a lot of internet associated devices came into play. Mobiles, smart fridges, laptops, smart watches and what not.

And as per the idea of IP addressing, every single device has to have a unique IP address and considering the number of devices coming into play, it became fairly evident that there’s going to be a shortage of IP addresses which is going to be catastrophic.

So, many approaches to deal with this came into play:

  • Usage of IPv6 addresses instead of IPv4.
  • Using Network Address Translation (tomorrow’s article ;) )

So, IPv6 is actually a very reliable approach.

So, let’s calculate. IPv6 is a 128 bit string. Hence, the values it can have are 2¹²⁸ -> 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456

Intense, right? I don’t think we ever will have these many devices on planet Earth XD

Just to give a rough idea of how larger IPv6 is than IPv4!

Consider every grain of sand as an IP address.

  • With IPv4, you can just fill a truck with those Ip addresses/grains of sands.
  • With IPv6, you can literally fill the entire sun with those IP addresses/grains of sands.

But who manages the IP addresses?

Okay, let’s go hierarchically.

  • So, at the top, there is an organisation ICANN which govern IP address space and policies behind it.
  • Then, comes the authority IANA, that coordinates maintains number systems that keep the internet running like IP addresses.
  • Then, the region specific organisations which handle the assignment and management of IP addresses get involved.
  • Then, finally, comes the Internet Service Providers or the ISPs, which communicate with those region-specific-organisations to finally assign the rightful available IP address to the device.

That’s it!

Thanks for reaching till here!

I hope you understood this article and got a fairly basic idea of IP addressing about WHATs, WHYs and HOWs associated with it.

Stay tuned for another article which is going to come tomorrow associated with some other interesting CS fundamental.

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Site Reliability Engineer @ Red Hat | ex-Grofers | Contributing to {Cloud, Kubernetes}-native OSS

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Yashvardhan Kukreja

Site Reliability Engineer @ Red Hat | ex-Grofers | Contributing to {Cloud, Kubernetes}-native OSS