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Americas are just 2 weeks away from running out of IPv4 addresses

Bob Brown | July 30, 2015
John Curran, CEO of the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), told attendees at the Campus Technology conference in Boston on Wednesday that the IP address authority's pool of IPv4 addresses has dwindled to 90,000 and will be exhausted in about two weeks.

ARIN CEO John Curran
ARIN CEO and President John Curran at Campus Technology conference in Boston, preaching the gospel of IPv6 Credit: Bob Brown, NetworkWorld

John Curran, CEO of the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), told attendees at the Campus Technology conference in Boston on Wednesday that the IP address authority's pool of IPv4 addresses has dwindled to 90,000 and will be exhausted in about two weeks.

"This is a pretty dramatic issue," says Curran, who founded ARIN in 1997 and was once CTO of Internet pioneer BBN.

Curran's revelation came during a talk during which he urged IT pros from educational institutions to upgrade their public facing websites to IPv6 as soon as possible. Not that the IPv4 address pool drying up will result in such websites being cut off from the Internet, but Curran did say moving to IPv6 will provide much more direct access to end users whose mobile and other devices increasingly have IPv6 rather than IPv4 addresses.

The nonprofit ARIN, which along with four other regional bodies manages the database of all IP addresses on the Internet, will not be the first of those organizations to run out of the 32-bit IPv4 addresses that have served Internet users to date. APNIC, which serves Asia, ran dry in 2011. Europe's RIPE exhausted its supply in 2012.

While ARIN running out of IPv4 addresses is alarming, Curran is bullish on IPv6 growth. Big dot.coms like Facebook and Google have embraced IPv6, and router vendors such as Cisco and Juniper have supported it since the early 2000s.  The major telecom companies in the United States have switched over to IPv6 in a big way this year and installed gateways to maintain access for IPv4 devices, and Apple is on the cusp of getting fully behind IPv6 with the release of iOS 9 later this year.

Some 21.5 percent of queries to Google now come via IPv6 connections, vs. just 8 percent a year ago and 2 percent the year before that, according to Curran.

Still, the ARIN chief says educational campuses are behind the government and industry in moving to IPv6 and he's been trying to get outfits such as Internet2 to pay more attention to the matter (he cited NIST's IPv6 adoption page as a good place to check out the status). So Curran spent most of his talk at the Campus Technology conference encouraging attendees to get their organizations to upgrade their public facing websites to IPv6, a process that he says isn't as complicated as it might seem in most cases.

Then again, he does call the overall move to 128-bit IPv6 addresses "the biggest change we're ever doing in history of any system ever."

 

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