As your device’s unique identity on a network, IP addresses carry a hefty responsibility. They enable your device to access network resources, and in turn, allow other devices to access your device.
Think of an IP address like a device’s phone number. You need one both to make calls out, and to receive them, just like you need an IP to share files with another user, browse the Internet, or hold a video call.
On top of this, there’s a few different kinds of IP address, complete with their own strengths and weaknesses. And when you’re providing connectivity for a customer, you’ve got to know what type of IP addressing best suits their solution.
Choices, choices. We’ve previously covered whether to go with a public IP, or a private one. Now the question is: can your solution work with a dynamic IP that changes occasionally, or does it need to stay static?
Let’s break down the options!
Dynamic vs static IPs: what’s the difference?
It’s all in the name: a dynamic IP is one that changes, either periodically or under certain circumstances.
IPV4 was the first attempt at creating a system to identify computer systems on the Internet back in the 1970’s. An IP address in this standard is a sequence of four blocks of numbers—each with a range of 0-255. That equates to roughly four billion unique combinations. While that may have seemed like a lot 50 years ago, we’ve quickly run out of addresses to individually assign to the seven billion people using multiple devices today, not to mention the 1.5 trillion ‘things’ waiting to be connected!
Update: On 25th November 2019, the RIPE Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC) in Amsterdam, which allocates IP addresses across Europe, announced it has officially run out of IPV4 addresses.
Enter dynamic IP addressing. In this scenario devices don’t hang on to one particular string of numbers. Instead, when they connect to the Internet, ISPs simply assign them an IP from the pool of available numbers. In the case of a router restart, or moving from your home network to a cafe, your dynamic IP will cycle back into the pool and be replaced with a new one. Even if your connection remains intact, the change is guaranteed to happen at some point.
Why you’d want a Dynamic IP SIM
- Cost-effective: dynamic IPs are the easier option to set up, and so cost less.
- Extra security: because they cycle regularly, dynamic IPs make your device harder to compromise.
- Automatic network configuration: you won’t need to configure your network—this is already taken care of every time you receive a new IP. Easy!
Static IP addresses, on the other hand, don’t ever change. They’re each tied to an individual device; so if something happens, like a device reboot, it retains the same IP address. This is especially important for cases like web servers, where a reboot and change in IP address would stop anyone from being able to access the server.
Let’s bring in the phone analogy again. If you had a phone that you only ever used for outbound calls, you probably wouldn’t mind if the number changed on occasion. On the other hand, if you had a phone explicitly for answering calls from customers, it’d be pretty bad if the number changed every few weeks.
Static IPs are also handy when it comes to network infrastructure. If you need to ensure one party can connect to another at all times, like setting up a site to site VPN between a head office and a branch elsewhere, you’ll need a static IP.
Static IP SIMs are great for:
- Running a server: static IPs on your server mean users can reliably reach it for connectivity, such as file downloads. Services such as DNS also work well with static IPs.
- Hosting applications: when you’re regularly running applications that require others to connect via your IP, like video conferencing or a Virtual Private Network, you’ll need a static IP that won’t shift between or during sessions.
- Remote access: if you need to access files or programs remotely from another network, for example, a static IP means you never have to worry about being unable to connect, or disconnected mid-session due to an IP switch.
Though they may seem like a flat upgrade compared to their counterparts, you won’t always need a public or static IP. Depending on the situation, it might be more secure to use a private static IP in tandem with a private APN service, for example.
Using a public IP address exposes your device to the internet, so you need to take precautions to protect the device from security compromises like hacking or DDoS attacks.
Private static IP addresses can’t be accessed directly over the Internet; so it’s best to combine them with a private APN service. This works brilliantly when you need to number and structure a suite of devices. For instance, equipping thousands of CCTV cameras with private static IPs allows you to identify which device is monitoring which area.
Having a public static IP on a SIM is equal to having business-grade broadband or Ethernet, but over a cellular network. It allows site-to-site VPNs to connect reliably, and dodges the issue of network address transition (NAT) that comes with a private dynamic IP address.
Not to mention, many cloud-based devices in play today need public static IPs to operate.
Need help choosing? We’re on it
With private, public, dynamic and static IPs to pick from, as well as VPNs and APN add-ons, there’s a boatload to consider, and it can get overwhelming fast.
So if you’re setting up a solution and you’re spoiled for choice with IPs, drop us a line! We’re always on hand to analyse your connectivity needs and help you figure out what works best for you.