Thursday, February 17, 2011

IPv4 X-Day Arrived–No One Died

At a ceremony held on 3 February, 2011 the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) allocated the remaining last five /8s of IPv4 address space to the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) in accordance with the Global Policy for the Allocation of the Remaining IPv4 Address Space. Each /8 contains a total of 2^24 addresses, although depending on how the /8 blocks get subnetted, the actual amount of usable IPv4 addresses would be lower.

So after 30 years or thereabouts, the free pool of available IPv4 addresses is fully depleted from a global perspective, that is, IANA has no more. The individual RIRs of course still have address block to give out as do individual ISPs. There are companies with /8 block (e.g. HP that has the original DEC that might be persuaded to give some of all of their /8 blocks back either to IANA or a RIR. And there are a lot of companies that have smaller allocations (e.g. /16, /24, etc.) that also might be persuaded. And I’m sure that ISPs and RIRs will start to be a lot more aggressive over smaller allocations. If nothing else, the cost of holding allocations is pretty likely to begin to cost more.

With better use of the now scarce resource that is IPv4 addresses, the Internet will continue to operate just fine for at least the next few years. But the writing is on the wall – IPv6 needs to happen sooner rather than later. I use Xilo as my ISP – and ever since switching to them around a year ago, IPv6 is ‘in testing’. I keep asking, but it’s still in testing.

It’s time for Xilo, and all ISPs, to ramp up and start rolling out IPv6. With the handing over of the last /8 block, IPv6 needs to be here for all of us soon. Of course, it’s not just the ISPs that need to adopt and adapt. The manufacturers of ADSL/Cable modems, Wireless access points, switches, particularly consumer grade devices, need to be upgraded to fully support IPv6.  And there probably needs to be a new protocol to do complete setup for an ISP customer (configuring not only the individual hosts, but also the router itself.  Not sure DHCPv6 is quite enough. A PowerShell module perhaps?

So start asking your ISP, your hardware manufacturer and your corporate IT department: when do you support IPv6? And start learning more about IPv6.

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