IPv6 was designed back in the early 1990s as a replacement for IPv4. Back then, it was already clear that one day the Internet would run out of IPv4 addresses. A number of techniques (CIDR, NAT) have been developed which extended the runway for IPv4 for 20 years.
Now, IANA is forecasted to allocate the last /8 blocks of IPv4 addresses early this year, and the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) are talking about exhausting their pool soon after. The favorite game in town is to predict the exact date this will happen. As of today, January 20th, Geoff Huston (ipv4.potaroo.net) has a scientific model that says February 2, 2011. I will venture another guess: March 13, 2011. This is the date of the next ICANN meeting.
Is this the end of the Internet? Of course not. First off, all of the addresses that have been allocated will remain active. Computers, routers, and servers will all continue to function as they have been.
However, what is at stake is how to keep growing the Internet now that "new" IPv4 addresses will no longer be available from the source. In the last year, I've been talking to a large number of service providers around the globe. Every single one of them has created a team to look at the problem and come up with solutions. These vary widely in the details but actually share a common premise: do more with less and share.
At the same time, the same people within those service providers are also looking at IPv6. Some have a schedule that is more aggressive than others, but it is now clear that the IPv6 plane has left the hanger, and there is enough momentum to believe it will take off; the only question is when it will reach escape velocity.
Juniper’s vision on IPv4 exhaust and IPv6 transition is very simple: let's be pragmatic and work on solutions that solve real problems. That will be the theme of this blog.
View this video to see Leo Vegoda of ICANN and myself discuss the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses.
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