Thursday, December 23, 2010

When Should I Start Thinking About IPv6? Do Your Homework!

The potaroo website publishes a report, generated daily, regarding the availability and predicted exhaustion of IPv4 space. The report contains several graphs highlighting the history of address allocations, allocation rates over time, projected allocations and projected address exhaustion dates. These graphs are reported from the perspective of IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) and the RIRs (Regional Internet Registries).
IANA serves essentially as the top of the IP food chain in allocating to RIRs from its pool of address space. Each of the RIRs then in turn allocates from its respective address space to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and in some cases, legacy address space holders who've historically obtained address space directly from Network Information Centers (NICs) which preceeded RIRs. This is why the report indicates IANA running out of space first, followed within about a year of the RIRs running out. When IANA allocates its last block, an RIR will have received that block and possess that address capacity. As each RIR allocates space to ISPs, its pool will diminish and eventually exhaust.
Following the same logic then, ISPs will possess the capacity of the last RIR allocation, currently predicted to occur in late 2011. But quite possibly within a year of receiving this last IPv4 block of addresses, ISPs will likewise run out. This implies that anyone requesting IP address space from an ISP after this time, say late 2012, will have no choice but to implement IPv6 for Internet-accessible web or email servers. Any newly-formed organizations or those that require additional address space after this time will be "IPv6-only" organizations.
Perhaps you're thinking this is "not my problem" or I've got plenty of IPv4 space! But consider this: as this population of IPv6-only organizations and users grows into 2013 and beyond, will they be able to reach your websites and email? At some point in the future, you may receive a call from the business side of your organization inquiring as to why we're missing this growing segment of the market. If you await this call to begin your IPv6 planning, your response that you can enable IPv6 within a year may prove detrimental to your career prospects. It's prudent to begin now to learn about IPv6 technology, which infrastructure products in use on your network support or will support IPv6, and how you would implement IPv6 when needed. Having at least a basic project plan in place if you decide to defer implementation will enable you to answer that phone call with a much more palatable or even heroic answer!

Smart Grid Proves Smart with Standardization on IP

The Smart Grid Interoperability Panel Governing Board has officially approved the Internet Protocol (IP) as its standard protocol for applications! While standardizing on anything but IP would certainly not have been smart, the obvious needed to be firmly stated. The Internet Protocols for the Smart Grid document referenced in the approval is an Internet draft, but it will likely gain IETF approval as an RFC in the near future.
The draft is intended to provide Smart Grid designers with the core set of protocols on which to develop products and services and it covers UDP and TCP at the transport layer and IPv4 and IPv6 at the network layer, though it includes broad coverage of related protocols such as routing protocols, DNS, DHCP and network management protocols.
While some in the industry had advocated stronger wording around recommending the use of IPv6 over IPv4, given the relative scarcity of available public IPv4 address space, the document is non-judgmental on this point. And as a document defining the suite of available protocols, I agree with the approach. The debate about when and how to roll out IPv6 rolls on, though as smart meter deployments continue, IPv6-only addressable devices will soon arrive on the Internet!

Obligatory Introduction

I was about to launch into my first post but I thought it more appropriate that my first post comprise a "hello world" introduction. My purpose in blogging is simply to document news and opinions related to the field of Internet Protocol Address Management (IPAM), particularly around IPv4 and IPv6, as well as the closely related technologies of dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP automates IPv4 and IPv6 address assignment) and the domain name system (DNS translates web/email/etc. addresses into IPv4 and IPv6 addresses). The practice of IPAM encompasses managing these core functions of IP address space, DHCP and DNS with the rigor of network management discipline.
Such discipline is necessary given that these core functions serve as the very underpinnings of any IP network. Wthout DHCP automatically assigning IP addresses in accordance with the IP address plan, laptops, IP phones, PDAs, and other IP devices will be unable to communicate. End users may consider the "network down." If DNS is unable to translate web addresses into IP addresses, browser sessions will fail with the dreaded communications failure. If you're working in IT or Network Operations, you'll be sure to find this out very quickly when the help desk or call center lights up with calls. So you certainly have motivation to keep DNS and DHCP up and running and properly configured with respect to the IP address plan. And it's you who I hope will benefit from this blog's posts over time.
Posts will include commentary on recent events as well as an occasional tutorial on a related technology. I also welcome your suggestions!