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The Internet

Whatever Happened To the IPv4 Address Crisis? 574

alphadogg writes "In February 2011, the global Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) allocated the last blocks of IPv4 address space to the five regional Internet registries. At the time, experts warned that within months all available IPv4 addresses in the world would be distributed to ISPs. Soon after that, unless everyone upgraded to IPv6, the world would be facing a crisis that would hamper Internet connectivity for everyone. That crisis would be exacerbated by the skyrocketing demand for IP addresses due to a variety of factors: the Internet of Things (refrigerators needing their own IP address); wearables (watches and glasses demanding connectivity); BYOD (the explosion of mobile devices allowed to connect to the corporate network); and the increase in smartphone use in developing countries. So, here we are three years later and the American Registry for Internet Numbers is still doling out IPv4 addresses in the United States and Canada. Whatever happened to the IPv4 address crisis?"
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Whatever Happened To the IPv4 Address Crisis?

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  • by neilo_1701D ( 2765337 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @11:29AM (#46266903)

    When that particular comment was made, the ubiquity of the home router dolling out DHCP addresses probably wasn't considered. Nowadays, you only need one IP address for your home and let the router sort it out.

    There's still a problem, but people seem to prefer to adapt and come up with (very) clever workarounds rather than get some new solution shoved down their throat that renders existing equipment obsolete for no good reason.

  • by wisnoskij ( 1206448 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @11:40AM (#46267011) Homepage

    How does it even work any other way?

    Are you/the article saying that it is possible to have a single connection to your ISP, but for every computer, fridge, toaster, TV, etc. to have its own global IP address?

    Your ISP can give you a block of dynamic/static IP addresses, which your router assigns instead of 192.168.1.X?

  • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @11:49AM (#46267097) Homepage
    That was the point of having DNS in the first place. Four octets just weren't bad enough.
  • by infogulch ( 1838658 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @11:52AM (#46267133)


    "Hey Joe, what's your IP address?"
    "I don't have one, I'm behind a NAT and firewall that I don't control."

    Of the two problems, I find yours the lesser of two evils.

  • What happened? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GT66 ( 2574287 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @11:55AM (#46267157)
    The human tendency for hyperbole happened. It was the same for Y2k, is the same for just about every winter season snow storm, and is ceaseless in our politics. We just love the drama of a crisis. Just recently John Kerry referred to man-made global warming as weapon of mass destruction. Talk about a drama queen. [br] [br] So, as it turned out, despite seemingly needing more than billions of IP addresses and IPv4 only supplying a few billion in totality, what the world really needed was just a few million IPv4 addresses that could provide "outside" initiated connectivity into the host. ie, servers. For all the rest, outbound connectivity could be supplied by some smaller proportion of addresses using NAT and clever work around services and many systems required even less than that needing only local area connectivity and allowing IPv4 to be reused over and over. [br] [br] So, the need for IPv6 RIGHT NOW OR THE END WILL CONSUME US! was driven largely by hyperbole and the reality that IPv4 can and will continue to serve our purpose is tempered by the other human traits of conservation and ingenuity. [br] Yes, the transition to IPv6 is inevitable and necessary however, the consumption of IPv4 will not be no more a sudden catastrophic event event any more than John Kerry's belief that climate change is a weapon of mass destruction. It just never happens that way.
  • by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @12:00PM (#46267207)

    Being horrified by NAT is all well and good, but the fact is, ISPs look at the horrible bandaids that work 80% of the time and say, "Good enough. Now I don't have to rebuild my entire infrastructure for IPv6." You may want something that works 100% of the time, but the people who own the equipment don't want to *pay* for something that works 100% of the time.

  • by Morgor ( 542294 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @12:18PM (#46267413) Homepage

    In short, it's just too early to tell. Just because the RIRs ran out of addresses, it doesn't mean that the LIRs have yet (the ISPs).

    Based on my experience as a network engineer at an ISP, the following is happening already:

    Small ISPs and ISPs that have not been in the business for a long time* have either run out or are on the verge of doing so. They are doing the following:

      * Purchasing legacy IPv4 addresses from enterprises with /16 networks from the old days where available.
      * Deploying CGN-like solutions for their end-customers if their end-customers are residential users.

    Larger ISPs and older ISPs with allocations from ye old pre-RIR days continue to hold addresses and are often able to free large quantities of addresses from old deployments. Mind you, a lot of public IPv4 space have been "wasted" on infrastructure addressing, and management of devices that were not even connected to the internet. Devices such as modems, DSLAMs, CPEs and similar.

    One could easily speculate that the business of ISPs will be severely affected in the future, as customers will go to the old providers that have plenty of v4-space available at the cost of newer players who followed the RIR regulations of only applying for the address space they needed based on relative short-term predictions.

    If you are a registered LIR you will see a flood of SPAM from so-called IP brokers who are trying to purchase unused IPv4 space in hope of selling this to LIRs in need. That market will probably become quite desperate in the coming years.

    Oh, and by the way, I see no evidence that IPv6 deployment is taking any noticeable speed.

    *) Long as in they were in the game when classfull allocations were made.

  • Re:NAT (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jkrise ( 535370 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @12:35PM (#46267603) Journal

    There are 2 dimensions to the IPv4 problem - the user end; and the server end. Except for newly formed companies looking to provide internet access to their users through a proxy server; the individual users are largely oblivious to the crisis; as you rightly mentioned.

    But try hosting your own server (non-cloud provider) - your ISP forces you to acquire IPv6; and you have to jump through hoops to make it smoothly accessible over VPNs and the general inernet.

  • Re:Chicken little (Score:2, Insightful)

    by war4peace ( 1628283 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @12:39PM (#46267653)

    ...Maybe your sites are US-centric.

  • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <> on Monday February 17, 2014 @01:03PM (#46267911)

    Are you/the article saying that it is possible to have a single connection to your ISP, but for every computer, fridge, toaster, TV, etc. to have its own global IP address?

    Yes, that is exactly how IPv6 is supposed to work.

    And this is where fundamental assumption #1 of IPv6 falls flat. Even with IPv6, every endpoint will not be reachable.

    This is the age of firewalls and all that (and even NAT provides a very basic level of firewalling). There's no guarantee that despite an endpoint having a publicly available address that it'll be reachable. Even today if a company has dozens of public IPv4 addresses for hosts, there's no guarantee that it'll be accessible.

    Which means everything still breaks just as if NAT was present.

    Even if IPv6 took the world over by storm, firewalls will still be around breaking connectivity. Even worse than NAT, you can't easily detect this condition. You might have a publicly visible address, but the firewall prevents you from establishing a connection. Or you may bind a port to serve something and the firewall blocks access.

    In fact, the early days of NAT had those problems, but these days it's largely mitigated because of many techniques.

    Possibly, but not necessarily even that. You could be set up to simply automatically generate IPv6 addresses from your MACs, and the ISP doesn't even explicitly grant you an address block.

    But it may decide that you get a static IP and firewalls everything else off. E.g., even though you're advertised a /64, your ISP may filter out everything but <prefix>::1. If you ask for another "IP", because ISPs love to sell you more, they'll just hand you another prefix.

    And finally, the biggest hurdle for IPv6 is NAT. Because NAT has a very nice side effect if you're maintaining a network of any size - it isolates internal network numbering for external network numbering. It doesn't matter what IP your ISP hands you for IPv4 - because NAT automatically hides it from internal clients. All they need to know is if they can see the router and magic happens.

    With IPv6, you lose this handy feature - your ISP decides to change your prefix? Well, damn, they haven't done that in 5 years and now everything has been hardcoded with the old prefix in it - all your internal services used it.

  • Re:What happened? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zero__Kelvin ( 151819 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @01:14PM (#46268047) Homepage

    ". It was the same for Y2k,"

    I'm glad you brought this up, as it is an excellent parallel. The Y2K crisis was real just as the IPv4 shortage was real. In both cases people took pro-active steps to head off disaster. Now, because those proactive steps averted the disaster all those who had no hand in it and didn't understand it proclaim: See! It was never an issue! It didn't happen!. No shit sherlock; it didn't happen because people saw the potential for disaster and took steps to avoid it.

  • by InvalidError ( 771317 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @01:46PM (#46268411)

    Most carrier-grade equipment has a useful service life of 7-8 years and practically all carrier-grade equipment that got on the market in the last 10 years does support IPv6.

    At the customer edge of the network, those upgrades are necessary to enable VDSL2 and DOC3. In the network core and backbones, router upgrades are necessary every ~7 years because new router generations have 3-4X the routing capacity per RU and bandwidth per watt as older equipment which is a major saving in floor space, power and cooling bills. Trying to cope with the 40-70%/year traffic growth using hardware from 6+ years ago would be practically impossible.

    Until traffic growth collapses, carriers and everyone else involved in large-scale transit does not have a choice to refresh large chunks of their network periodically to accommodate demand.

  • by rusty0101 ( 565565 ) on Monday February 17, 2014 @03:27PM (#46269487) Homepage Journal

    To embellish smash's response, no there is no privacy benefit to using NAT. If you want some sort of a privacy benefit, you still need to add a firewall to your connection that can monitor your traffic for the very same things it would have to monitor for if you use global addressing. The only thing that NAT provides is an address translation interface, too allow you to have a larger pool of addresses to use than your provider can grant. If there is a port forward for a service set up either statically or dynamically (upnp) any flaws in the service that is being forwarded can be exploited in the same way it would be if there were no NAT involved.

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