IPv4 address depletion stories have seen prominent coverage in UK papers in recent weeks. Vint Cerf (one of the “fathers of the Internet”) is quoted warning of the impending exhaustion of IPv4 addresses. The papers covering this story include leading UK papers such as The Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian and the Daily Mail.
Whilst there is nothing new in this story it is a significant that it is now getting publicity in the daily papers. The depletion of IPv4 addresses was predicted many years ago and the solution, IPv6, has been around for over a decade. The increased interest in IPv6 has come as people have begun to realise that IPv4 addresses will be exhausted very soon (around 2010).
Another interesting aspect of these articles are the comments that they have attracted on the paper’s web-sites. These comments illustrate that many still believe the common misunderstandings and misconceptions about IPv6. The usual suspects are to be found on these web-sites for example; “NAT will solve the problem”. Without globally addressable IPv4 addresses you cannot implement NAT. In order to attach to the IPv4 Internet a networking using NAT must at some point employ at least one globally routable IPv4 address. So the depletion of IPv4 addresses will make it difficult to continue to deploy NAT. Furthermore, NAT is not a desirable solution. NAT breaks end-to-end connectivity and stops a number of protocols from working. In addition NAT is difficlut to manage and has resilience and performance issues.
As we approach the final depeletion of IPv4 addresses it is important that the need to deploy IPv6 is taken seriously. The increased awareness of the problem is a healthy sign. But it is only the start. We now need to see government, business and individuals planning for and implementing IPv6.