Don't Panic! It's only the Internet running out of Addresses

Don't Panic! It's only the Internet running out of Addresses

Summary: It's official. The last five blocks of IPv4 addresses have been distributed to the five Regional Internet Registries and there aren't anymore.

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TOPICS: Browser, Networking
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The various Internet management groups made it official this morning. We're now out of Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) Internet address blocks. The final five blocks of IPv4 addresses were given out to the five Regional Internet Registries (RIR), which, in turn, will distribute these IP addresses to ISPs. That puts about 80-million more IPv4 addresses in play, but once they're gone, they gone: IPv4 game over.

There was nothing unexpected about the Internet running out of IPv4 addresses, except for how quickly the last few address blocks have been used up. As Rod Beckstrom, Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)'s President and CEO said in the announcement "This is truly a major turning point in the on-going development of the Internet. Nobody was caught off guard by this, the Internet technical community has been planning for IPv4 depletion for quite some time. But it means the adoption of IPv6 is now of paramount importance, since it will allow the Internet to continue its amazing growth and foster the global innovation we've all come to expect."

What does that mean for you? Well, in the short run, nothing if you're an ordinary user. If you're a CIO, network engineer or administrator, you've got to start getting switch to over to IPv6. IPv6, with its 128-bit addresses, won't be running out of addresses any time this century.

IPv4 is another matter though. The Asia-Pacific RIR, (APNIC) will be the first to run out. I expect APNIC to give up its last free address in the early summer. RIPE, which handles Europe, the Middle East and the former Soviet Union countries, will go next by year's end, and the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) will run out in early 2012.

If your business isn't ready for IPv6, and darn few are, there are some transitional technologies such as dual stack, dual-IP stacks, and Dual Stack Application Level Gateways that will let you use IPv4 and IPv6 at the same time.

If all that's Greek to you, talk to your networking vendor or your ISP. You're going to need their help to switch over IPv6 anyway. Many of them, such as Allied Telesis, Mu Dynamics, and Hurricane Electric have IPv4/IPv6 transition products and services ready to go.

As Alain Durand, director of software engineering for Juniper Networks told me, "The expected announcement from the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority [IANA] that the remaining large IPv4 address blocks have now been assigned has long been forecast and should be kept in perspective as global Internet growth will continue without interruption for a long time to come. Juniper Networks has been assisting its service provider and enterprise customers with a continuum of IPv4 exhaustion solutions, IPv6-enabled products and IPv4/IPv6 coexistence strategies for many years. There will be no disruption of service for the vast majority of Internet users, both wireless and wireline."

So long, that is, as you upgrade your network infrastructure for the brave new world of IPv6. If you don't, well don't be shocked if in a year or two, you won't be able to get Internet addresses for your new office or your VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) programs won't connect.

Topics: Browser, Networking

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  • RE: Don't Panic! It's only the Internet running out of Addresses

    What, me panic?
    Never!
    Aaauuuuughhhh!!!!!!!!!!!
    jsexton9@...
    • Yea really

      @jsexton9@... Just shut down the middle east like Egypt and reclaim the space.
      LarsDennert
      • RE: Don't Panic! It's only the Internet running out of Addresses

        @LarsDennert

        That's not a good idea. Too many truly patriotic activities going on. Like people dying so that their fellow citizens can live in a democracy. Do all of the Egyptions want democracy? Probably not, but enough to deserve your respect.

        gary
        gdstark13
      • RE: Don't Panic! It's only the Internet running out of Addresses

        @LarsDennert : excellent idea. Just create a new IPv5 standard for all countries that have massive firewalls. That way, we know they are on the net, but we really don't need to know each and every little IP address from them.<br><br>How would it work. All the rest of the world would be<br>1.x.x.x.x and all closed, unfriendly societies like Iran, North Korea, Burma, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Cuba and Venezuela, would be 2.x.x.x.x.<br><br>This would give the whole world a break and let business focus on what the hell to do to stop Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain from going under.
        cosuna
  • The move to IPV6 will not be that big of a deal. Many will just run in an

    IPV4 island for some time where packets are translated on the router. Then, each year, as people buy new equipment, more and more of the individual comuters will run IPV6.
    DonnieBoy
    • RE: Don't Panic! It's only the Internet running out of Addresses

      @DonnieBoy Unfortunately, the various IPv4 <> IPv6 solutions aren't that compatible with each other. Messy times ahead for network engineers.

      Steven
      sjvn
      • Re: IP4 &lt;--&gt; IP6 migration &quot;solutions&quot;

        @sjvn@...<br>I agree with your assessment. It was incredibly dumb not to reserve, and then define for actual use, some "extra" bits in the header for exactly such a migration problem.<br><br>A well-defined bit, EARLY in the header, to indicate that "IP-V6 Addresses are present in this Datagram" would have made the migration almost trivial.<br><br>The RFC is incredibly lame.
        Rick S._z
  • RE: Don't Panic! It's only the Internet running out of Addresses

    It's cool, I've got my towel.
    SlithyTove
    • RE: Don't Panic! It's only the Internet running out of Addresses

      @SlithyTove
      I'm with you. It's just like the move to digital storage. A case of "So long, and thanks for all the fiche"!
      aldux
      • RE: Don't Panic! It's only the Internet running out of Addresses

        @aldux But I do think we're in for A Long Dark Tea Time. Maybe we should hire Dirk to find those unused IPv4 addresses.
        Scubajrr
      • RE: Don't Panic! It's only the Internet running out of Addresses

        @aldux and @SlithyTove
        You guys are such hoopy froods
        PJfromOttawa
      • RE: Don't Panic! It's only the Internet running out of Addresses

        This must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
        PepperdotNet
      • RE: Don't Panic! It's only the Internet running out of Addresses

        @Scubajrr

        I'm not a tech-guy; But I think reclaiming unused old addresses is a good idea and might help with cross-over to newer addresses if it's needed.
        MARoss
  • Cute!

    This discussion has been going on for some time with vague "solutions" touted by so far nothing tangible other than the standard "take two aspirin and call me" advice.
    Would one of you "Gurus" write something specific in layman's terms?
    :-(
    kd5auq
    • RE: Don't Panic! It's only the Internet running out of Addresses

      @kd5auq It's coming. Look for my IPv6 FAQ next week.
      sjvn
  • RE: Don't Panic! It's only the Internet running out of Addresses

    I have four spare that I don't want/need, would gladly trade them for more bandwidth which AT&T says is not available. So far I am incline to believe them as I am lucky to get half of "max" bandwidth any given day.
    dcbohn
  • RE: Don't Panic! It's only the Internet running out of Addresses

    IPv4 to IPv6 and vice versa

    The key word for networks will be interoperability. The key words for users will be content and applications.

    In 1995, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), which is an unincorporated body of volunteers, tried to create the next generation or IP (for Internet Protocol) np (for next generation) which became version number 6.

    The original specifications contained requirements that whatever the next generation was, be 100% fully interoperable with the existing "language" of the Internet, IP Protocol version 4 or IPv4.

    Then, suddenly, the key requirement was removed by the "Editor" in 1996. This will go down as a possible "TRILLION" yes, you read that right, dollar decision.

    Why? Because the entire network only "talks" one language right now. And developing and emerging economies will be unable to access the network without paying enormous sums to the "legacy" number holders who were given large allocations between 1981 to 1997. They were given huge swaths of "Internet Real Estate" and now do not use any of them. But no one can take it away from them. It is their property. (I'd love to see the Regional Internet Registries to try because they'd get stomped like grapes and then we'd get them back to being service focused companies)

    So, is there a reason to "panic" ... no, absolutely not. We live in a countries that should be termed "incumbents". We have plenty of numbers for decades. So we are just fine.

    Now emerging markets, well not so much. They should panic. India has less than 30m numbers. Indonesia, ha! Less than a /8 for the whole country. Don't even mention Pakistan or Nigeria.

    So let's move to v6 ... not so fast. The largest ISPs have enormous built in incentives to NOT move to v6. It is called barrier to entry. If I were on the Board of Directors, I'd tell my staff to NOT GO THERE. As long as possible. So the leaders of the RIRs can plead and beg to go to v6 (They have HUGE incentives because they get paid for allocations, so once v4 goes away and no one cares about v6 they go AWAY) but in reality they control nothing. Nada ... zip.

    So, is it time, as the late Douglas Adams would say, to panic? Only if you live in the developing world.

    (Oh, ask the People's Republic of China's State Security arm what they have decreed about v6? It goes through the Great Firewall without being able to inspect it throughly, so no v6 in China, sorry)
    etaggert
    • RE: Don't Panic! It's only the Internet running out of Addresses

      @etaggert Are you sure about China? I thought I read that they had huge IPv6 adoption?
      PJfromOttawa
    • RE: Don't Panic! It's only the Internet running out of Addresses

      @etaggert : sorry to remind you that we no longer live in a unipolar world.

      Your argument would be valid before the 2008 meltdown. Today, IPv6 shift will surely be used as a power struggle, quite similar to the Metric System movement.

      I think Brasil, Russia, India and China (the so called BRICs) will use IPv6 as an excuse to fork the Internet and essentially out maneuver the west in the transition.

      Ever heard of LTE and 4G. Well, that's common place is Japan and now China. On the U.S., well it's coming, really slowly. What it means for IP addresses. Imagine millions of mobile phones directly connecting to the web at full speed. Currently on 3G that's done thru proxies. On 4G it's gonna be native. So there's another reason China, Malaysia and all Southern Pacific is gonna embrace IPv6 at this moment.

      Us in the U.S. and surrounding vicinity will be left tunneling IPv4 (which ironically sounds as "before") under the emerging IPv6 backbone.
      cosuna
  • RE: Don't Panic! It's only the Internet running out of Addresses

    What I don't understand is, why can't the ISPs do like we do on a home network? We have one IP address that is for the home, then we assign different IPs to the home devices.
    jtarheel