The Looming IP Address Shortage

The necessity for the move to IPv6 is the focus of an article from Forbes recently. The article quotes Leslie Daigle, chief Internet technology officer for ISOC, who says it is simple math: the Internet Protocol addresses that are assigned to differentiate networks and individual computers at the edges of the Internet have 32 digits, allowing for only a finite number of addresses–about 4.2 billion. Daigle also says the move to IPv6 would help to limit spam since “[i]n today’s addressing system, large groups of IP addresses–what Daigle calls ‘the swamp’–are often assigned and then left unused for a period of time. Spammers can impersonate those virtual identities to circumvent e-mail filters based on blacklisted IP addresses.”By starting a new accounting system from scratch, IPv6 could allow more careful tracking of which IP addresses are assigned where, limiting the IP identities that spammers can spoof, she says.”Of course, the move to IPv6 is not so simple with IPv4 requiring the reworking of “the entire infrastructure of the Internet–not just revamping software but replacing much of the outdated networking equipment installed in Internet service providers, large enterprises and governments.”However there are others who do not believe the end of the world is nigh, such as Gartner research analyst Lawrence Orans. He tells Forbes he’s “heard doomsday warnings for more than 10 years, he says, and year after year, businesses have found solutions other than switching to IPv6. He doubts that a shortage of IP addresses–even with the current technology–will severely cripple the Internet.”Even so, the problem won’t go away by itself, Orans concedes and he likens the IP problem to that of the Y2K bug, though even bigger.To read the Forbes article in full, see www.forbes.com/technology/2008/03/14/internet-dod-ip-tech-inter-cx_ag_0314internet.html.

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