Last week, I got the chance to teach a nice Microsoft networking course up in York at the University’s IT Academy. It was a great week! For me one of the highlights was talking about IPv6. The delegates had heard of it, but by and large it was somewhat foreign. So I dived into as much detail as I could, and used Joseph Davies’ most excellent IPv6 book as a reference. I know Joseph well – he and I collaborated on two TCP/IP books (TCP/IP for Windows Server 2000, and TCP/IP for Windows Server 2003).
I’ve been writing about IPv6 for over a decade. In the first TCP/IP book I co-wrote (TCP/IP Blueprints), I provided some details on what was then (the book was first published in 1997!) the state of IPv6. At that time IPv6 was a cool concept, it was hard to make much of a case for it. My view then was that once Microsoft produced a decent IPv6 stack as standard, folks would flock to it. Well – they did – a good stack was produced for Window XP/Wiv6. Windows Server 2003 – but I was wrong and there was little groundswell for IP. With Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2, Microsoft produced a killer IPv6 feature, Direct Access (see http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/network/dd420463.aspx for details on this feature). But even with Direct Access, the rush to IPv6 is not really visible.
Well last week, Vint Cerf, the guy responsible for much of what we know as IP today, wrote that we’re running out of time. In an article titled: Google vice-president issues a start internet warning, Cerf says "There's no question we're going to be out of address space by springtime of 2011”. To back him up, here’s an online counter you can use to see just how close to the end of IPv4 address availability:
When I popped this counter up yesterday morning, it showed 101 days till X-day (the day when there will be no more IPv4 address blocks for the regional IP registries to dish out). Later in the day, the counter showed 100 days, but by this morning, it’s down to 98 days. As the counter is real time – the estimated X-day may well be earlier than 2 March 2011. What’s worse is that when the number of blocks available (currently there 11)
Frankly, this counter scares me a just a little. Now of course, the world will not end on 3 March, or whenever the day after X-day is. We’ll be able to limp along for many more years thanks to the use of NAT and more aggressive public IPv6 address reuse.
But there are two things that really are clear to me: First, the days of IPv4 really are numbered (and this time we really, really mean it!). Secondly, it's really is now time to learn and deploy IPv6. I look forward to the discussions with my ISP over IPv6!
What are YOUR plans for IPv6?? You do have some, don’t you!!