Thursday, February 3, 2011

When will the second domino of IPv4 space exhaustion fall in your region?

Now that IANA has exhausted its IPv4 address space, each Regional Internet Registry (RIR) now has a finite amount of IPv4 space to allocate to its “customers”, Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Eventually RIRs will run out of IPv4 space to allocate, followed by an ISP near you. The potaroo site, famous for its predictive tracking of the exhaustion of IPv4 space over the last few years, has published a frequency distribution for each RIR indicating for the estimated probability of IPv4 exhaustion by time frame.

This chart indicates that the Asia Pacific region will likely be the first to face exhaustion at the RIR level. The Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) appears to be likely to exhaust its IPv4 space before the end of this year! According to the chart, the European region served by the RIPE NCC will exhaust in about a year or so, followed by North America’s ARIN RIR, exhausting in about one and a half to two years. The Latin America and Africa regions, served by LACNIC and AFRINIC respectively, have a relatively lengthy remaining IPv4 lifetime, not likely to exhaust until 2014 or later.

As IPv4 address space availability shrinks, requirements for obtaining IPv4 address space will become increasingly stringent. But with the continued growth of converged and virtualized IP devices, networks, services and applications, such controls will merely add flow control and only minimally extend the exhaustion date. IPv6 will soon be the only IP address space available for new address space requests. Now is the time to learn about and plan for IPv6!

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