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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.

IPv6 adoption must happen to accommodate booming Internet use (41 percent of the 7 billion people in the world can now access the Web) and the explosion of Internet-connected devices from smartphones to Internet of Things gadgets and systems. Whereas IPv4 addresses max out at 4.3 billion devices supported, at least 50 billion addresses are probably needed given current connectivity trends, Curran says.

But bringing it down to the scale of college campuses, here's what he says needs to be done. 

"Your boss thinks your website is on the Internet... you're not, surprise, you're on the old Internet," Curran says. "You folks have (IPv6-enabled) smartphones that can't connect to your own websites on your campus." (Though actually you can, via ISP gateways, he clarified.)

The good news, Curran says, is that upgrading your websites to IPv6 doesn't mean you need a whole new set of servers, routers, firewalls or load balancers. You just need to turn IPv6 on in those devices, and if vendors don't support IPv6, you need to push them to do so. You also need to make sure that your ISP turns on IPv6, and if you can't get an IPv6 address block from your ISP, you might need to go to ARIN, which will give you one for free if you already have an IPv4 block, or sell you one if you don't.

Benefits of moving to IPv6 should include improved performance for those accessing your website, especially if you're serving up audio and video, Curran says. Facebook has seen 20 percent to 40 percent faster performance via IPv6 because traffic isn't bouncing around between gateways and data centers.

A lesser known benefit of making the switch is improved traffic analytics, unpolluted by mapping between IPv4 and IPv6, Curran says.

One final reason to learn about IPv6, Curran says, is because it is also known as "the full employment act for Internet engineers and consultants." Not a lot of people are experts in it right now, so you could be looking at job security for years to come.


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