Every device linked to the Internet needs a unique number to enable it to connect with the rest of the devices on the network. These numbers, or Internet protocol (IP) addresses, are critical for the operation of the Internet.
No one could have predicted the growth of the Internet and, when the commercial Internet was in its infancy, the pool of around 4 billion IPv4 addresses seemed huge. As more and more connected devices needed an IP address, more and more IPv4 address space had to be allocated. With this in mind, the technical community developed the next-generation of IP addresses – IPv6. The many trillions of IPv6 addresses available will be enough to ensure that the growth and development of the Internet can continue.
The RIPE NCC’s supply of available IPv4 address was fully allocated on 14 September 2012. This means that IPv4 address space can now be allocated only from the last /8 block of IPv4 address space and the RIPE NCC is now distributing IPv4 address space to Local Internet Registries (LIRs) from the last /8 according to section 5.6 of “IPv4 Address Allocation and Assignment Policies for the RIPE NCC Service Region“. This section states that an LIR may receive one /22 allocation (1,024 IPv4 addresses), even if they can justify a larger allocation. This /22 allocation will only be made to LIRs if they have already received an IPv6 allocation from an upstream LIR or the RIPE NCC. No new IPv4 Provider Independent (PI) space will be assigned.
By design, IPv4 and IPv6 cannot communicate directly with each other. Network operators will need to run IPv4 and IPv6 networks in parallel in order to ensure that all parts of the Internet remain reachable for everyone. At a certain point in the future, new networks may be available over IPv6 only as the remaining IPv4 address space in the last /8 will be eventually allocated and put into use.
If Internet Service Providers (ISPs), content providers and network operators do not ensure that their customers, networks and websites are accessible by or available to people using either IPv4 or IPv6, it is feasible that some parts of the future Internet – those that remain accessible by IPv4 only – will be unreachable for those using an IPv6-only network
In order to continue to offer your customers the same level of service, you need to prioritise IPv6 deployment now. Ask yourself:
- Are you and your IT staff aware of IPv6?
- Is your network IPv6 ready?
- Have you considered IPv6-readiness in your upgrade cycle?