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Is it curtains for IPv4?

Posted: 08 Apr 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Internet Protocol  IPv6  software 

As the pool of IP addresses under today's IPv4 software shrink, there is a widening circle of companies and organisations that are pressing for support for IPv6 in anything connected to the Net. It may sound arcane but without support for the latest version of the Internet Protocol, the rapid expansion of people and devices trying to link to the Internet could hit a major speed bump.

The pool of available Internet Protocol addresses could run out before the end of 2011. Online counters are ticking down the number of IPv4 addresses available in what feels like a replay of the Year 2000 scare that passed without the major computer and network crashes some predicted. In hopes of a similarly smooth transition we thought it would be good to ask engineers whether they are building IPv6 support into their 2010 products.

The American Registry for Internet Numbers sent out a year ago a broad notice to chief executives about the pending depletion of IPv4 addresses. Meanwhile, the U.S. government has developed a process for ensuring IPv6 support in its procurements.

Some big telecom providers are concerned more work needs to be done.

"The core networks are there, it's the edge networks and content providers we are concerned about," said Doug Junkins, chief technology officer of NTT America, a multi-billion dollar telecom provider that created a Website about supporting IPv6 in business networks.

As a stop gap measure, some vendors are supporting large-scale network address translation for systems used by service providers. The approach lets many Net users share a fixed block of addresses from a carrier, just as today's home routers let multiple PCs share an IP address.

However the approach can soak up extra memory in a service provider's systems and cause dropped connections to clients. "In our opinion there are drawbacks to having multiple layers of address translations in the network," said Junkins.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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