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ARIN provides the latest word that we need to move to IPv6... will anyone heed the warning? (Does anyone care?)

NetworkWorld is running an article today that talks about the announcement from ARIN (the American Registry for Internet Numbers) of the ARIN Board resolution calling upon ARIN to no longer be "neutral" in the IPv4 vs IPv6 space and instead work to actively encourage migration to IPv6.

For those not aware, ARIN is a non-profit organization that allocates IP addresses within North America and is one of the five Regional Internet Registries that allocate IP addresses on behalf of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA)

Think of it this way... let's say you start a business and want to get an Internet connection where you can run your own web server.  You need a public IP address, so you are going to contact an Internet Service Provider (ISP), set up service, get an address, etc., etc.  If you are in North America, the public IP address you are going to get will have been allocated to your ISP by ARIN.  ARIN, in turn, was given blocks of IP addresses to give out by IANA, who is ultimately responsible for all IP addresses.  So it looks something like this:

IANA -> ARIN (and the other RIRs) -> ISPs -> You

(and yes, where I said "ISPs", there may in fact be multiple levels of ISPs and other intermediary registries giving out addresses - I'm trying to make this simple, okay?)

Until now, ARIN and the other RIRs have generally been fairly neutral in the IPv4 versus IPv6 debate and have not shown a preference in allocation, but this announcement from ARIN shows the first signs of change.  It starts with this warning:

The available IPv4 resource pool has now been reduced to the point that ARIN is compelled to advise the Internet community that migration to IPv6 is necessary for any applications that require ongoing availability from ARIN of contiguous IP number resources.

And here is the key part of the Board resolution:

BE IT RESOLVED, that this Board of Trustees hereby advises the Internet community that migration to IPv6 numbering resources is necessary for any applications which require ongoing availability from ARIN of contiguous IP numbering resources; and,

BE IT ORDERED, that this Board of Trustees hereby directs ARIN staff to take any and all measures necessary to assure veracity of applications to ARIN for IPv4 numbering resources; and,

BE IT RESOLVED, that this Board of Trustees hereby requests the ARIN Advisory Council to consider Internet Numbering Resource Policy changes advisable to encourage migration to IPv6 numbering resources where possible.

The net of it is that we can expect that ARIN (and undoubtedly the other RIRs) will make it increasingly harder for ISPs to obtain IPv4 address blocks and will be scrutinizing requests... while it will be basically wide open for IPv6 allocation.

So how long do we have?

If you read Jeff Doyle's blog (an excellent one on IPv6 issues),  he believes that IANA will stop IPv4 allocations in late 2008 or early 2009.  Given that RIRs have existing pools of IPv4 addresses to allocate, IPv4 addresses may continue to be available through 2009 or 2010.

2009?  2010?

That's not that far out, when you think about it.  Given that we've been talking about IPv6 for now most of 20 years, the date does indeed seem to be looming.

The real question to me, though, is simply this - will anyone care?

Will anyone heed these and the other warnings and start the migration to IPv6?  Or will we just keep going along as we are until we hit the real bump in the road and it becomes a crisis?

Were I a betting man, my money would be on the "crisis" scenario.



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