Window on WANs

Feb 3 2011   11:55AM GMT

No more IPv4: Now what?

Tessa Parmenter Tessa Parmenter Profile: Tessa Parmenter

Surprise! The IPv4 address pool is draining…

The pool of IPv4 addresses go down a drain.
… which means, the “new” Internet Protocol is coming to a network near you. If you’ve been ignoring the signs and keeping your head in the sand, well here’s one of your last warnings: There’s no more IPv4 addresses left in the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) pool. The last two IPv4 address blocks from the IANA were allocated to the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) on Tuesday, February 1. While conservative estimates predicted the IANA IPv4 address pool to drain this day — most industry analysts expected this to actually occur mid-2011.

This last allocation from the IANA prompted the final five IPv4 address blocks to be distributed to the rest of the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) according to global policy. With IPv4 addresses gone earlier than expected from the IANA, it’s only a matter of time before the RIRs distribute IPv4 addresses to providers and your telecom provider runs dry. Experts predict 3-7 months for the RIRs to run out of IPv4 addresses.

So this is why IPv4 depletion counters have stopped counting down. (Some claim that they will be revised to count the addresses left on RIRs). This is why, even from an enterprise standpoint, you need to start your migration to IPv6 if you haven’t already — because — guess what? There’s nothing else that will feasibly support the Internet (as much as the Pouzin Society would like to argue with you).

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though…

“The world is not going to come to an end. Even if all the IPv4 address space is allocated, the Internet will continue to function,” IPv6 expert Scott Hogg says. So what will IPv4 address depletion mean for your business network?

Silvia Hagen,’s resident IPv6 expert, says “The IPv4-based Internet will not stop working, but it will stop growing, while the IPv6-based Internet is designed to grow for generations to come.”

She advises enterprises to plan carefully before deploying IPv6, especially in the areas of IPv6 addressing, IPv6 security and managing IPv6. The bigger your enterprise the sooner you need to start looking into IPv6, she says. Hire help if you need to. Talk to a specialist. There are professional services to help with your IPv6 migration, but not all vendors have IPv6-compatible products. This explains why some vendors, Certes Networks for example, have had to push back their product launches. Make sure you find IPv6-compatible appliances and applications for your WAN.

“There is equipment out there, and there is [a] lack in IPv6 support with some vendors or equipment types, but by the time companies get to the real deployment, the market will have changed already. So start the planning and do it thoroughly and carefully,” Hagen says.

So that’s it. IPv4 addresses are gone. There is no more swimming in the pool of IANA IPv4 addresses. In the Internet ocean, the only life preserver is IPv6. She may be bulky, but at least she’s buoyant.

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