IP address depletion looms, ARIN warns

The IPv6 movement got a boost in May when the American Registry for Internet Numbers announced it would actively encourage migration to IPv6. ARIN distributes blocks of IP addresses to service providers and enterprises based in North America.

ARIN has distributed IPv6 addresses since 1999 without advocating IPv6 over IPv4.


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ARIN's announcement said that IPv4 addresses had been depleted to the degree that "migration to IPv6 is necessary for any applications that require ongoing availability from ARIN of contiguous IP number resources."

ARIN’s Board of Trustees passed a resolution May 7 that says the organization will consider policy changes "to encourage migration to IPv6 numbering resources where possible."

The ARIN announcement is "a bit of a shock wave for those who have not been thinking about IPv6 or preparing for it," says Loki Jorgenson, chief scientist at Apparent Networks, which sells network assessment and optimization tools. "ARIN is a central figure that is going from a neutral stance on IPv4 and IPv6 to advising IPv6."

The ARIN announcement shows that IPv6 is at the tipping point, says Jeff Doyle, subject matter expert for IPv6 transition for the North American IPv6 Task Force and an IPv6 Forum fellow.

"For years, everybody has been saying, show me the business case for IPv6," Doyle says. "The business case is that ARIN and APNIC [the Asia Pacific Network Information Center] and the other regional Internet registries are very quickly tightening their policies because the depletion data for IPv4 is becoming very apparent. The business case is going to be, do you want to continue expanding your business? The only way to do that is with IPv6."

Doyle says IPv6 supporters predicted the registries would start tightening their policies for IPv4 addresses.

"That announcement by ARIN is the first indicator of stricter policies to come that, as the IPv4 address space becomes smaller and smaller, they’re going to make it intentionally more and more difficult in order to push people to IPv6," Doyle says.

The announcement is expected to push software vendors, including providers of network management tools, to get serious about supporting IPv6.

The ARIN announcement "is changing people’s minds," says Yanick Pouffary, technology director for the North American IPv6 Task Force and an IPv6 Forum fellow. "There were a lot of people thinking that they don’t have to do IPv6 right away."

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