‘When will IPv4 become obsolete?’

032415blog when will ipv4 die
Credit: Wikipedia

On Reddit’s forum devoted to networking – r/networking – a user asks: “I know that IPv4 is all out of addresses, and most devices are running both IPv4 and IPv6. How long is it going to take before we no longer see both addresses on a device, but only IPv6? 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? Does anyone have an estimate?”

Oh, yes, they do; in fact, 82 Redditors offer their views on the matter. Here are a few that represent the general tenor:

  • Well since I still support IPX for some legacy apps ... in 100 years.
  • Right after POTS dies. And then only after another 30 years.
  • General IPv6 adoption is 18 months away. My college prof told me this in 1995, and he's still right.
  • Not in our career lifetime.
  • IPv6 will take off during the year of the Linux desktop. You'll pull IPv4 from my cold, dead hands...

But there were also a fair number of more nuanced replies:

“This doesn't get said or understood enough. My company didn't do a big evaluation of technologies and decide ‘Ok, we're going to go with IPv4.’ IPv4 is what was here. We use it because it exists. When IPv4's address space runs out and new companies can't get native IPv4 assignments, the number of IPv6 only users will skyrocket. This will force providers (content, not ISP) to focus on IPv6. Eventually, all new assignments will be IPv6, and all content will be available dual stacked. That will be the day that IPv4 begins declining."

And one incredibly precise set of predictions:

Realistically some markets are doing this now (such as Asia). Some places will hold onto IPv4 for many years to come. I expect that we will see:

  • 10% adoption of IPv6 only implementations on the LAN side maybe in 5 years. (still using IPv4 NATed WAN addresses)
  • 50% adoption of IPv6 only networks in new construction projects by 2025
  • 90% adoption of IPv6 only networks in new construction projects by 2035. This is an entire generation of network administrators away.
  • IPv4 will die as a functional protocol by 2040. It will still exist in some "yea, we have that print server that hasn't been touched since the 20's" configurations, but all new network construction will be IPv6 by 2040 (if another protocol hasn't replaced IPv6, and if ethernet is still king).

No one said any day now.

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010815blog internet pipes Erik Solheim

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