Engineer internet ipv6

Significant IPv4 announcement to be made in Miami tomorrow #IPv6

Those of you who have been following the countdown to exhaustion of the IPv4 address space will want to tune in to a webcast coming out of Miami tomorrow at 9.30 EST (GMT+5hrs). It is an open secret that this will be the IANA handover of the last 5   /8 blocks of IPv4 addresses.

We in the UK will be marking this important milestone in the history of the internet at a date in March. Look out for an announcement very soon. In the meantime you will be able to watch the ICANN ceremonials and press conference here.

Engineer internet ipv6

Last 2 IPv4 blocks allocated – STOP PRESS

The last two available /8 blocks of IPv4 addresses have been allocated by IANA to APNIC.  This takes the remaining total down to 5 which means the IPv4 address pool is effectively exhausted. The last 5 are spoken for. There are no more. That’s it :).

I’m holding off crying “history, history” until the remaining 5 are allocated.  This was, I’m told, originally planned for a ceremonial handover at the ICANN meeting in San Fransisco in March but will now happen much sooner than that. Keep reading this blog for updates.

I’ve written plenty about this so if you need to understand more do a search for IPv6. It is worth noting that this isn’t the total exhaustion of all IPv4 addresses. That will happen in dribs and drabs as people use up those held by Regional Internet Registries (RIRs – expected to be streched out in ever decreasing block sizes) and then use up their own.

You need an IPv6 strategy. For a quick overview on how it might affect you read this.


OMG the internet is about to run out of addresses what should I do?

IT manager worried about IPv4 to IPv6 migration

Media interest in IPv6 last week prompted a few questions, notably on twitter, regarding whether people should worry about the IPv4 address pool exhaustion. It would be easy to make noise and attract attention by saying “OMG yes – you should worry”. After all it is a fairly momentous event –> “The End of The Internet As We Know It”. ARMAGEDDON!!!

This blog does not indulge in such tabloid-like scaremongering 🙂  So what is the deal?

Well firstly it is very true that the IANA IPv4 address pool is about to run out. There are only seven /8 address block remaining and Asian  Regional Internet Registries (RIRs ) APNIC is about to ask for two of these. The growth of internet usage in Asia has been outpacing the rest of the world.

Word has it that APNIC has been holding back on this request to a) stretch the exhaustion date and b) give IANA a chance to organise the PR surrounding the release of the final blocks. Once APNIC has received its two blocks (each /8 contains approx 16 million IPv4 addresses) we will be down to the last five. This is expected to happen in January – or mid February at the latest.

The rule is that this is the point at which IPv4 exhaustion is declared and the remaining five blocks are distributed to the five RIRs. The last five should be released in March. (all dates subject to change in this rapidly changing world)

Of course whilst this means that IANA will no longer have any addresses each RIR will. It should, however, be remembered that /8 blocks are being used up at the rate of one every 6 weeks or so. It won’t be long before RIRs will run out of stock. It will then be down to individual ISPs to nurture their own stocks so that they last as long as possible. I have already heard (anecdotal) stories of companies being bought for their IPv4 addresses, at least in part.

ISPs can make their stocks last longer by getting better at recycling IPv4 addresses from customers who have left for pastures new. These ISPs will need to move to IPv6 or, in the medium term, depart the market because they will not be able to service new customers– enter tabloid press – ISPS HIT WALL AND GO OUT OF BUSINESS PANIC/STAMPEDE/WILL MINE BE ONE OF THEM? !!!

The industry has known this has been coming for a long time – more than 10 years so what’s the state of play?

The global network penetration of IPv6 is still quite low – only a few % – it does vary from country to country. This means that relatively few networks can talk to each other using IPv6. This rate of adoption is increasing as D-Day gets closer (Depletion Day?).

The migration strategy for IPv6 implementation is to run dual stack networks ie to run both IPv4 and IPv6 in parallel. Existing ISP customers will be able to continue to use their existing “IPv4 only” routers. IPv4 is not going away in a hurry. However you should know that once IPv4 has been “used up” new websites and services will start to appear that only use IPv6. If your ISP cannot provide IPv6 then it is quite probable that you will not be able to access services that only use IPv6. With time this will be a growing problem.

As long as your ISP does support IPv6 then your routers don’t need to – the ISP can do a Network Address Translation on your behalf. After all end users don’t typically see their IP address. End users use the friendlier DNS system for sending emails and web browsing eg sits at IP address but you don’t need to know the underlying number – the system takes care of it for you.

Their problem will be if their ISP does not support IPv6 then they will not be able to help when (or any other DNS based service) moves to IPv6.

Now consumers don’t need to rush out and buy a new router. For one if their ISP does not yet support IPv6 it would be a waste of money, but they do need to be sure in the medium term that the ISP has an IPv6 story. The other point to note is that routers don’t last for ever and do periodically get replaced as technology develops. For example in moving from 8Mbps to 24Mbps broadband many people will have had to have a new router.

One of the things holding back the release of IPv6 to consumers is the lack of support for the protocol amongst consumer broadband router vendors. The market leader for IPv6 equipment support is Cisco, whose kit is typically used in business environments. Cisco routers are too expensive for home users who expect to get the equipment bundled with their broadband connection for free or at least a very low price.

There are very few alternatives with fully working solutions – these vendors are only now just sampling their first devices to their ISP channel.

There is no real reason for this, other than a perceived lack of market demand, because ADSL routers typically all use the same open source (ie free) Linux kernel. Linux is the pet project of a global engineering community and provides good IPv6 support. We should therefore expect to see many IPv6 enabled broadband routers appearing in the market during the course of 2011 which will likely trigger more ISP IPv6 announcements.

A business should give more thought to a plan to migrate its network from IPv4 to IPv6, or to provide support for a dual stack. This is because it might be a bit of a nuisance for consumers to have only partial access to the internet but this could be mission critical for a business, especially if it is that business’ own website and services, or those of its trading partners that become inaccessible.

Up until now this is something that has been completely ignored by the IT manager community but it is something that they should be aware of in 2011.

Support from Cisco and Linux is good news generally as many businesses are heavy users of both Note a business may not know it uses Linux but for example Timico installs IPv6-ready Fortigate firewalls – it is the firewall’s underlying Linux stack that facilitates this.

There is a lot of uncertainty here and I will be arranging some educational workshops to cover this in the near future – watch this space. In the meantime if you want to know more by all means drop me a line at tref at

If you want to learn more about what an ISP does to prepare for IPv6 read about our work at Timico in this previous post. Note since writing that post in December 2010 the number of IPv6 routes supported by Timico has grown from 3,500 to 4,500 which shows how quickly the space is moving.

Geoff Huston also has a good discussion on this subject here.

PS I will update the percentage penetration of IPv6 numbers as I come across them.

internet ipv6

The end of #IPv4 and the coming of #IPv6 – exclusive interview with The Young Journalist Academy

Over the past few days I have had a flurry of media interviews on the subject of the exhaustion of the IANA IPv4 address pool and the advent of IPv6. This is increasingly going to be a talking point during 2011. The biggest problem in linking to these interviews is that they are usually on the BBC and typically only accessible via iPlayer, and then only for a week after the event.

It would be nice to be able to link to something that should stay up for a more usable period of time. On this occasion I was pleased to spend some of Saturday morning (pre golf 🙂 ) talking to some budding young journalists in my hometown of Lincoln. They (Jonathan and Robert from Year 8, Carre’s Grammar School, Sleaford) have written a story and posted it on “The Young Journalist Academy” website.

The podcast is here.

Cloud Engineer internet ipv6

The Road to IPv6 (or How to Avoid the IPv4 Apocalypse)

Apocalypse IPv4

A paper by Trefor Davies and Chris Nicholls

The Problem
Regular readers of this blog will know that we, the world, are about to run out of the IPv4 addresses that are absolutely crucial to the running of the internet. This notionally apocalyptic event is almost certain to happen over the next three months, maybe even two.

The allocation of IP addresses is managed by an organisation called IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority). IANA hands out these numbers in /8 blocks containing 16,777,216 addresses. Clearly you would have to be a big network provider to need 16 million IP addresses. Because of this IANA hands these large blocks to five regional registries that then manage the distribution of smaller blocks to their customers. In Europe the regional registry is called RIPE NCC.

Whilst I have myself been guilty of (playfully) scaremongering in respect of the exhaustion of the pool of Ipv4 addresses, it is only really IANA that is about to run out. RIPE will not run out for perhaps another year and even after that individual ISPs will have their own existing unused addresses to play with.

Notwithstanding this it behoves all ISPs and network operators to get their house in order with Ipv6 which is the long since identified answer to the problem. Ipv6, a 128 bit protocol supports 2128 (about 3.4×1038) addresses compared the 32 bit IPv4 which only provides 4,294,967,296 (232) . IPv6 is expected to serve us for a very long time.

Few ISPs in the UK have announced IPv6 support. As we approach the IANA Apocalypse I thought I would share with you the engineering work that we have been doing at Timico in respect of IPv6

Timico has been running IPv6 as part of our internal research and development activity for a number of years. The core of the network has been running dual stack IPv4 and IPv6 with external connectivity to the rest of the internet for most of this time. Attempts thus far to bring these services to our customers have been limited due to the lack of demand, vendor support and our core IPv4 operations taking precedence.

Engineer internet

Is black market for IPv4 blocks imminent?

Whilst I was on holiday the IPv4 Exhaustion counter ticked down another digit to 5% or 14 /8 blocks .

Nov 16 2009 10% – dropped through 400,000,000 mark
Jan 20th 9%
Feb 25th 8%
May 10th 7%
June 2nd 6%
August 5%

Currently we seem to be using a /8 block every three weeks. With 9 blocks left before we are down to the last 5 (at which point IANA will distribute these simultaneously to the 5 Regional Internet Registries) it looks like we have 27 weeks to go to IPv4 Exhaustion.

In my book this is February 2011 and not the June date reported by the Exhaustion Counter on this blog.

Engineer internet

2 recent slash 8 allocations brings IPv4 x-day forward by 5 months

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) has just allocated regional registries RIPE and APNIC a /8 each this month.  For the uninitiated a /8 represents 2 to the power of 24 IP addresses or 167,77,216.

A /8 is the largest block allocation that can be made by IANA and these two have had the effect of bringing forward the x-date, the date for IPv4 exhaustion, by 5 months or so to April 30th 2011.

These blocks are subdivided into smaller subnets for further allocation to ISPs/organisations with smaller requirements  such as BT and Timico. Timico has a variety of block allocations ranging from  /16 to /20’s.

If you want to know more about IP addressing allocations check out wikipedia. The times they are a changing.

Footnote – a day later the date seems to have bounced back to September – don’t know what happened there.  Still not very far off though.