Archive for January, 2011
As we settle into the new year, Internet providers and IT managers are facing an eventuality that nobody ever really wanted to deal with, IPv4 Exhaustion.
An IP address, or Internet Protocol address is a unique number which internet users are assigned when they connect to the internet.
The internet is almost 40 years old now, having initially been developed by the US Military with only a finite number of addresses (approximately 4 Billion) available for use.
In the early years when only a handfull of large technology companies were connected to the internet, 4 billion addresses seemed like a lot, however the rapid up take of Internet services, and the need for additional IP Addresses per user (mostly related to increased use of smart phones, tablets and other mobile computing devices) has meant this very finite resource is on the brink of drying up, and it expected that every IPv4 Address range in the globe will be allocated (or completely exausted) by February 2nd 2011.
To date, IT managers in large corporations have been able to successfully manage their small number of IP Addresses using the public IP Addresses for their external / public facing firewalls, and Network address translation and private address spaces meant they could manage their Internal networks and VPNs without too much difficulty,
Doom and Gloom
There is no need to fear the very end just yet, much of the hype around exaustion relates to network operators making a grab for any remaining address ranges, but once they are allocated, they will need to be very smart in how they scale their network and add users to the IPv4 space.
It is thought that India and China will have the most difficulty managing the depletion of IP addresses due to the sheer volume of new users coming into the new digital era.
The future is bright
IPv6 (literally meaning Internet Protocol version 6) is the successor to IPv4, and this has an almost limitless number of internet addresses (340 billion billion billion billion) , thought to be able to provide multiple IP Addresses for every human on the planet for many years to come (and then some), and this is the ultimate solution to the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses.
The main challenge for providers and vendors is:
- Implementing IPv6 technology and educating engineering and support personell
- Promoting and educating end users to make the shift
For now, you can rest assured that ONE has sufficient IPv4 address space, which we believe will allow us to scale for the foreseeable future. Our engineers have also been developing an IPv6 implementation strategy for some time, to ensure we are able to continue our growth and accommodate our customers moving into the new digital economy.
For more information about the exhaustion of IPv4 (as well as a counter), see the following: http://www.potaroo.net/tools/ipv4/
For info on IPv6, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPv6