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IANA issues final IP addresses, signals end of IPv4

By Max Burkhalter
February 4, 2011
On Tuesday, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority issued two of the remaining seven blocks of IPv4 addresses (16.7 million addresses each) to the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre. The remaining five blocks were then evenly split up, with one going to each of the five Regional Internet Registries. The American Registry for Internet Numbers, who is responsible for IPv4 addresses in North America, should have received its final addresses yesterday, which experts believe will take between three and seven months to distribute. The result of all of this? No more IPv4 addresses.

Though it had been speculated, and even in some cases, prepared for, Tuesday's issuing marks finality for the fourth version. In fact, many experts' predictions from months past were spot on, as most thought the IPv4 would dissipate by the February 1. This now leaves many network operators with only two choices - either deploy complex, expensive network address translation technologies, which would allow them to share current IPv4 addresses among multiple users, or they would need to adopt IPv6, the newest generation of Internet Protocol. Many internet policymakers are urging network operators to do the latter and migrate quickly to IPv6 to get the process underway.

The IPv4 was created nearly 30 years ago and has 32-bit addressing scheme with the ability to support 4.3 billion devices with internet connection. With the foresight nearly a decade ago that IPv4 would eventually run out, IPv6 was created as a solution when this current situation eventually came about. IPv6 offers a significant upgrade over its previous version, offering a 128-bit addressing scheme with the ability to support many more devices - 2 to the 128th power, in fact.IPv6 also offers built-in security and easier management of network devices, such as terminal servers, through autoconfiguration of devices.

While internet policymakers are indeed pushing network operators to upgrade to IPv6, cost remains an issue. According to several CIOs at a recent Cisco Live roundtable, upgrading to the new Internet Protocol is high atop many business' priorities, but it's not the most important for all. Migration to cloud computing remains high on the priority list for many CIOs, though the two main speakers at Cisco's event believed the competition between IPv6 and cloud computing would typically favor IPv6 and slow the rate of cloud migration throughout 2011.


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