IP Network

IPv4 Exhaustion

Simon Woodhead

Simon Woodhead

2nd February 2011

Today the world officially ran out of IP addresses, a fact you may hear lots about on the news over coming days.

RIPE, of which Simwood is a member and from whom we obtain our IP address allocations, has today been allocated the final few blocks of IPv4 space from IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority). This means the IANA free pool of IPv4 address space is now exhausted. IPv4 is the addressing used on the Internet as most people know it today.

IPv6 is the replacement for IPv4. Whereas IPv4 had 4,294,967,296 addresses, IPv6 has 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 – an incomprehensible number and enough for many trillion addresses per human on the planet. The snag is that IPv6 is not simply an upgrade for IPv6, it is a replacement. That means for an interim period of the next several years networks such as ours need to to support both and Internet based services need to be accessible on both where possible.

Simwood has ample IPv4 space to meet our expected needs over the coming year but other networks may not. When they are unable to obtain further IPv4 space they will be forced to allocate customers or services IPv6 addresses only. That will render those customers/services inaccessible by IPv4 and thus inaccessible to anyone not using IPv6 as well.

So where are we? Thankfully we’re in better shape than many. We have our allocation of address space from RIPE (enough to give 16 million customers 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 addresses each!) and we’re peering with a number of networks over IPv6. None of our v6 addresses are reachable externally yet but will be soon. Most internal services are IPv6 capable and all we are really waiting for is our router vendor to enable IPv6 support on certain key services so we can join things up by enabling IPv6 on our core network.

We expect our IPv6 space to be accessible externally in the next couple of weeks. Whilst we have a few early adopter customers who will be reachable over IPv6 then, we anticipate being fully IPv6 enabled by May. Our IPv4 support will continue indefinitely.

If you are hosted on the Simwood Network, either co-located or a Carrier Ethernet customer, we will be in touch to allocate you some IPv6 space in the next few months. In the interim you need to ensure your equipment can support it and hassle vendors if not.

If you are not hosted on the Simwood network you will hopefully have had a similar mail from your own host network and they are well advanced with their own preparations.

There is no need for panic at this stage but we wanted to tell you where we were and urge you to give the transition active consideration.

As always, thanks for your interest and please let us know if you have any questions.

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