On April 15, 2011 the Asia Pacific Region ran out of IPv4 addresses.
“Wait a minute,” I hear you say, “Didn’t we already run out of IPv4 addresses?”
Yes, you have a good memory: The IPv4 address pool was exhausted in February 2011. The doomsayers and pundits all bemoaned the gloom and doom of the day, and experts gravely predicted the horrors of things to come. IT publications were filled with articles, Twitter exploded with witty remarks about the coming “ARPAgeddon,” and even the mainstream media ran semi-accurate sensationalist articles on the topic.
But then something funny happened. Nothing. The Internet kept working. IPv4 blocks continued to be handed out. The dust settled and most folks went happily about their business. How could this be so? Was it all a bunch of media hype and false alarms? No. February was really the early warning of the problems to come.
The Ticking Time Bomb
Five Regional Internet Registries (RIR) control the distribution of IP addresses. Each one of those registries has their own independent ticking time bomb of IPv4 address exhaustion, which has started at the initial IPv4 exhaustion event in February. By way of analogy: the main tank is out of water, and the five pipelines have started to drain. Several experts maintain independent “doomsday clocks” in the same way that Las Vegas has experts predicting the outcome of sporting events. Cisco’s own Tony Hain maintains a site on the topic and Geoff Hutson of Telstra maintains a another projection site. Their predictions for APNIC have already panned out and they both predict that within a year RIPE (Europe) and ARIN (North America) will face the same fate even though LACNIC (Latin America) and AFRNIC (Africa) have a few years of breathing room owing to their slower consumption rate.
What happens now for APNIC?
The address demand doesn’t stop just because the supply has gone away. Customers with an international footprint traditionally served by APNIC may reach out to ARIN or RIPE for IPv4 addresses, thereby hastening the exhaustion of those pools. Implementation of smaller cobbled-together address blocks may drive an explosion of the routing table of the so-called Default-Free Zone (DFZ), causing unnecessary resource consumption throughout the worldwide Internet routing infrastructure. Ongoing insistence on using IPv4 will call for increasingly desperate measures that will inflict increasing pressures without increasing benefits throughout the world.
So, other than moving to Africa or Latin America, how can you deal with impending IPv4 exhaustion? Establish IPv6 connectivity today and start building your expertise. Wean yourself from IPv4 and leap into the future. As always, you can take your IPv6 questions to the World IPv6 Day – IPv6 Transition support forum or engage the Cisco Services organization for additional assistance.