Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Raising the Roof on the IP Address Ceiling

After half a year of drawn out, down-to-the-wire, insidious infighting, the U.S. government has raised the "debt ceiling," the maximum debt liability permitted for the U.S. Treasury. What had routinely been a relatively easy and trivial task in the past became an outright stare-down to the brink of economic calamity. Nevertheless, with Congressional passage and the President's signature, the "capacity" for debt permitted by the U.S. government had been raised.

If only the capacity of IP address space could be raised as "easily." Some may argue that some of the emails on RIR or IETF email lists rival those of Congressional rhetoric over the last few weeks, but all attempts to raise IPv4 capacity have been unsuccessful. This is largely due to the fact that IP address capacity is plentiful in the form of IPv6 address space. Any steps to squeeze out IPv4 space will only postpone the inevitable: IPv6 is required to meet the ever-increasing demand for IP addresses. So instead of raising the ceiling, the Internet added a second floor, which itself has a very high ceiling!

With the Asia Pacific region down to its last remaining /8 block of IPv4 space, we've nearly hit the capacity ceiling for IPv4. Internet users in this half of the world will be among IPv6 early adopters from an end user perspective. Will these users be able to communicate with you and vice versa? It's time to think through the implications and to begin planning for IPv6 deployment.

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