The last time I wrote about IPv6 was almost a year ago. And soooo much has changed since then! Actually, no. Nothing has changed. IPv4 address space exhaustion is still imminent (late 2011). There still is very little happening to convince most network operators to make the requisite changes soon. And there was that financial crisis thing…
IPv6 is still a train wreck in slow motion.
First off – the projected exhaustion date – Geoff Huston maintains a great page with the best projection model that I know of: http://www.potaroo.net/tools/ipv4/
He makes regular adjustments as circumstances change. Currently his models are pointing at roughly Oct 2012 when IANA runs out of IPv4 address space, and Nov 2012 when the RIRs start running out. Those dates have moved out slightly in response to IANA’s change in allocation policy (go read his IPv4 report).
Under two years though – definitely under two years. Not enough time to start and complete an IPv6 implementation plan, if you think you’ll be affected. Who does not think they will be affected? It is just a question of how much you will be affected.
Most of the IPv6 pundits have declared that words like “transition” no longer apply. Partly because transition was never really an option – that is, we never really intended to replace IPv4 with IPv6. Instead they will be coexisting from now forward.
These same pundits are unhappily declaring that the original plan to use dual stack as a transitional mechanism has officially failed. Dual stack was certainly available early enough – but no one took the goal of IPv6 adoption seriously enough to accomplish it in time. So that door has closed.
Instead, we are faced with a future filled with NAT (Network Address Translation) devices. They will allow local networks to reuse IPv4 addresses behind a wall maintained by NATs which can translate them to IPv6 or other IPv4 address. But worse than NATs at the edge is the prospect of NATs in the core – realizing that they have little choice, providers are now girding their loins with carrier-grade NATs that can partition their networks into sub-domains composed of re-used IPv4 address space.
For anyone that knows how the Internet was built and the principles of its founding fathers, this is pure heresy – for example, it shatters end-to-end and points at an increasingly fragile future for Internet expansion, one that is literally held together with paper clips and string.
For those of you who have not yet lost interest in this thread, there remains the question of why this ever happened in the first place.
Once again, Geoff Huston has written a particularly insightful piece in his blog that is definitely worth reading: http://www.potaroo.net/ispcol/2009-09/v6trans.html
Geoff explores the prospect that IPv6 represents an instance of market failure. That is, there never was any incentive to adopt IPv6 and it should never have been left up to the markets to promote it. Instead, he suggests that it may instead have been better to treat IPv6 as a public good in the common interest. In which case, there are a number of well-established means for ensuring that it is propagated.
It may all be just 20/20 hindsight. However it makes for some very interesting reading (if you like economic analysis).
So what are you doing about IPv6? At least go read Geoff’s blog. He publishes once a month on various network issues. They are invariably well written and researched articles.
Yawn. Back to sleep now.