What Does IPv4 Exhaustion Mean for You?

January 21, 2011

THE SKY IS FALLING! EVERYBODY MOOOOOOVVVVEEEE! WWWHHHYYY??!! OH THE HUMANITY!!!

Are those your reactions to the depletion of IPv4 space? Probably not. If you haven't seen the IPv4 Exhaustion Rate countdown in the sidebar of SoftLayer.com, head over there and check it out ... At the current rate, there will be ZERO unallocated IPv4 blocks by the middle of February 2011, and that's not a good thing for the Internet as we know it.

Will you need to move your servers into a bomb shelter to protect your now-even-more-valuable IP addresses? Will Google stop Googling? Will there be riots in the streets as over-caffeinated sysadmins flip cars and topple dilapidated buildings in pursuit of lost 32-bit addresses? What does it really mean for you as a hosting customer and web surfer?

The sky won't fall. Your servers are safe in their data centers. Google will still Google. Sysadmins will still be working hard at their desks. But the belt is going to start tightening, and after a while, it might get pretty uncomfortable.

What's Really Happening

All of these IPv4 Exhaustion Rate counters are loosely tracking the IPv4 space that hasn't been allocated by the International Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) to a Regional Internet Registry. The Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) are ARIN (USA and Canada), LACNIC (Latin America, South America and Caribbean), RIPE NCC (Predominantly Europe and Russia), AFRINIC (Africa) and APNIC (Asia Pacific).

When the IANA gives out its last block of IPv4 addresses, every available IPv4 address will be allocated to one of these registries. And that's when the fun will really start. Since SoftLayer operates primarily out of the United States of America, for simplicity's sake, we'll use ARIN as we talk about the next steps for RIRs.

Anyone who's requested large blocks of IPv4 space in the past few years can attest to the significant changes in the request process. Additional justification is required, you have to be using a certain percentage of the IPv4 space you've already been provisioned and you have to get in line.

When the IANA IPv4 address space is exhausted, regional registries like ARIN will still have space available, and that space is all they're going to get. As a result, it'll probably be even harder to get get large blocks of space from those registries.

SoftLayer requests IPv4 space from ARIN for our customers. As ARIN slows the distribution of IPv4 space with additional requirements, it'll be more difficult for providers like SoftLayer to get additional space. In the same way ARIN orders IPv4 space to have stock for SoftLayer to request, SoftLayer has a pool of IPv4 addresses already assigned to us that we provision to our customers' servers.

In Short:

  1. ARIN won't be able to get any more IPv4 space from IANA.
  2. It will be more difficult for SoftLayer to get IPv4 space from ARIN.
  3. It will be more difficult for customers to get IPv4 space from SoftLayer.

How long will ARIN be able to maintain a reserve of IPv4 in the midst of qualified need in the region? How long will SoftLayer continue to receive requested IPv4 address blocks from ARIN? How long will SoftLayer's pool of IPv4 addresses last for our customers? These questions don't have definite answers yet, but for ARIN and SoftLayer, the general answer is "As long as possible."

What Does that Mean for You?

In the short term, it depends. If you find yourself in need of a huge block of IPv4 addresses, you're going to run into a lot more trouble. If you're just ordering a server and need one public IPv4 address, you might not notice much of a difference. If you're somewhere in between, you might see a few changes as we tighten our belts in response to the belts above us being tightened.

In the long term, it means you should prioritize IPv6 adoption. You can run IPv6 in parallel with IPv4 on your SoftLayer servers, and we'll do our best to help you understand how to implement IPv6 in your environment. IPv6 needs to be in the back of your mind as you create new applications and prepare to scale your business.

Consider the possibility that you'll never be able to get another IPv4 address when IANA runs out of IPv4 space. What will that do for your business? How would that change your development priorities? What are the IPv6 plans for the mission-critical hardware/software vendors you use?

IPv6 traffic is only a small fraction of overall Internet traffic right now, but you can be sure that as IPv4 space is harder and harder to come by as you move down the funnel, IPv6 traffic is going to grow exponentially. The work you do in preparing for that will need to be done now or later. It's a lot easier to start working on it now than to wait until you need it ... by that time, it'll already be too late.

-@khazard

Comments

January 21st, 2011 at 10:40am

4 words:

cPanel Doesn't Support IPv6

January 21st, 2011 at 2:27pm

4 words:

Not Everyone Uses cPanel

January 21st, 2011 at 3:15pm

2 words:
cPanel Sucks.

January 21st, 2011 at 11:09pm

Hello,

I understand that it will not affect existing customers those are already having the Dedicated server. :) But those will not able to increase their number of servers in future. :(

January 22nd, 2011 at 1:10am

Neither does helm 3 :-(

January 22nd, 2011 at 3:32am

@daroz

A lot of applications don't support IPv6. To that end, most of us will end us still constantly harassing SL for more IPv4. And I can see the day coming that Softlayer starts demanding justification from us, the customers, to get it. And it wont be long before "so-and-so software package does not support IPv6", even if it's something as huge as cPanel. Now would be a good time, in fact, to start harassing cPanel mercilessly

January 22nd, 2011 at 3:33am

Argh, a good chunk of my post went missing. Here goes again

@daroz: A lot of applications don’t support IPv6. To that end, most of us will end up still constantly harassing SL for more IPv4. And I can see the day coming that Softlayer starts demanding justification from us, the customers, to get it. And it wont be long before “so-and-so software package does not support IPv6″ won't cut it, even if it’s something as huge as cPanel. Now would be a good time, in fact, to start harassing cPanel and other vendors mercilessly to start moving with the times and supporting IPv6

January 22nd, 2011 at 9:52am

To a certain extent, SoftLayer already requires justification from customers for new IPv4 block orders ... As ARIN passes along additional requirements to us, we've incorporated those requirements in our process. Even though it takes a little time and effort on the customer's side to request additional IPv4 allocations, it's much easier for us to make a case for you when working with ARIN if we can explain exactly how the IPv4 addresses will be used (and why they are NEEDED).

January 23rd, 2011 at 8:52pm

So for someone not in IT, what will this mean? I have heard a lot about IPv4 and IPv6 but don't really understand the whole impact it has on domain owners / publishers who already have servers running.

Also, in your piece you mentioned "IPv6 traffic is only a small fraction of overall Internet traffic right now". Where does these IPv6 internet traffic exist? On the same internet as we know it? If you can clarify, that would be great. Still trying to grasp this whole concept and what it will mean for small businesses. Thanks in advance.

January 24th, 2011 at 8:33am

If you already have servers running, the changes won't really affect you immediately. IPv4 isn't going away, and it's going to be a long time before users can only access IPv6, so any existing servers on existing IPv4 addresses should be fine.

IPv6 and IPv4 are two different layers on the same Internet. ARIN actually has a great 5-minute overview presented as a resource on their site: https://www.arin.net/knowledge/deploying_ipv6/index.html

Check that out and let us know if you have any more questions!

January 24th, 2011 at 6:14pm

Thanks for the link Kevin. So do we (customers of SL), have to do anything to ensure that users who land on our websites via IPv6, still get access to all of our content? (besides ensuring oru web applications support IPv6). I am wondering about the hardware and network connectivity side.

January 25th, 2011 at 9:58am

After IPv4 exhaustion occurs, there will start to be parts of the world where IPv6 is all they have. If your content needs to be reachable from those parts of the world (parts of Africa, the Far East and South America), then you need to consider getting IPv6 active for your content sooner rather than later. Otherwise, you will not be able to affect how those consumers will be able to get to your content. That content will either be unreachable or only available via a NAT infrastructure managed by the consumer's ISP, which may or may not be up to task of providing the performance necessary to give those consumers the type of experience you'd want them to have. Getting your content IPv6 reachable takes that NAT possibility out of the picture.

Now, if reaching those consumers is not a priority for you, then you'll be able to use IPv4-based networking for several years (some estimates range from 10 to 20 years) before adding or switching to IPv6 will be required.

February 18th, 2011 at 3:55pm

Bigger problem than cPanel not support IPV6 is AT&T and other ISP's with no real plans to roll it out. Chicken and egg problem.

 

      

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Comments

January 21st, 2011 at 10:40am

4 words:

cPanel Doesn't Support IPv6

January 21st, 2011 at 2:27pm

4 words:

Not Everyone Uses cPanel

January 21st, 2011 at 3:15pm

2 words:
cPanel Sucks.

January 21st, 2011 at 11:09pm

Hello,

I understand that it will not affect existing customers those are already having the Dedicated server. :) But those will not able to increase their number of servers in future. :(

January 22nd, 2011 at 1:10am

Neither does helm 3 :-(

January 22nd, 2011 at 3:32am

@daroz

A lot of applications don't support IPv6. To that end, most of us will end us still constantly harassing SL for more IPv4. And I can see the day coming that Softlayer starts demanding justification from us, the customers, to get it. And it wont be long before "so-and-so software package does not support IPv6", even if it's something as huge as cPanel. Now would be a good time, in fact, to start harassing cPanel mercilessly

January 22nd, 2011 at 3:33am

Argh, a good chunk of my post went missing. Here goes again

@daroz: A lot of applications don’t support IPv6. To that end, most of us will end up still constantly harassing SL for more IPv4. And I can see the day coming that Softlayer starts demanding justification from us, the customers, to get it. And it wont be long before “so-and-so software package does not support IPv6″ won't cut it, even if it’s something as huge as cPanel. Now would be a good time, in fact, to start harassing cPanel and other vendors mercilessly to start moving with the times and supporting IPv6

January 22nd, 2011 at 9:52am

To a certain extent, SoftLayer already requires justification from customers for new IPv4 block orders ... As ARIN passes along additional requirements to us, we've incorporated those requirements in our process. Even though it takes a little time and effort on the customer's side to request additional IPv4 allocations, it's much easier for us to make a case for you when working with ARIN if we can explain exactly how the IPv4 addresses will be used (and why they are NEEDED).

January 23rd, 2011 at 8:52pm

So for someone not in IT, what will this mean? I have heard a lot about IPv4 and IPv6 but don't really understand the whole impact it has on domain owners / publishers who already have servers running.

Also, in your piece you mentioned "IPv6 traffic is only a small fraction of overall Internet traffic right now". Where does these IPv6 internet traffic exist? On the same internet as we know it? If you can clarify, that would be great. Still trying to grasp this whole concept and what it will mean for small businesses. Thanks in advance.

January 24th, 2011 at 8:33am

If you already have servers running, the changes won't really affect you immediately. IPv4 isn't going away, and it's going to be a long time before users can only access IPv6, so any existing servers on existing IPv4 addresses should be fine.

IPv6 and IPv4 are two different layers on the same Internet. ARIN actually has a great 5-minute overview presented as a resource on their site: https://www.arin.net/knowledge/deploying_ipv6/index.html

Check that out and let us know if you have any more questions!

January 24th, 2011 at 6:14pm

Thanks for the link Kevin. So do we (customers of SL), have to do anything to ensure that users who land on our websites via IPv6, still get access to all of our content? (besides ensuring oru web applications support IPv6). I am wondering about the hardware and network connectivity side.

January 25th, 2011 at 9:58am

After IPv4 exhaustion occurs, there will start to be parts of the world where IPv6 is all they have. If your content needs to be reachable from those parts of the world (parts of Africa, the Far East and South America), then you need to consider getting IPv6 active for your content sooner rather than later. Otherwise, you will not be able to affect how those consumers will be able to get to your content. That content will either be unreachable or only available via a NAT infrastructure managed by the consumer's ISP, which may or may not be up to task of providing the performance necessary to give those consumers the type of experience you'd want them to have. Getting your content IPv6 reachable takes that NAT possibility out of the picture.

Now, if reaching those consumers is not a priority for you, then you'll be able to use IPv4-based networking for several years (some estimates range from 10 to 20 years) before adding or switching to IPv6 will be required.

February 18th, 2011 at 3:55pm

Bigger problem than cPanel not support IPV6 is AT&T and other ISP's with no real plans to roll it out. Chicken and egg problem.

 

      

Leave a Reply

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