You have probably been hearing a lot about IPv6, you probably even know why we need it, but if you're an ostrich and are just popping your head out of sand and staring at raging stampede of articles telling you that "We've run out of IPv4 Addresses" then, well, you've come to the right place to get a quick slap in the face.

    No more addresses!

    That's right, just last week (this is early February 2011) the last /8 blocks were doled out to the regional address assignment registrars.  This doesn't mean that you can't get a block of addresses, it means that assignments from the regional registrars will get more difficult than it is already, it means that you'll need to now use 80% instead of 75% of your addresses before requesting more.  It also means that you'll need a 5 year plan for the use of these new addresses and it damn well means you better get an IPv6 strategy going because this difficult address request process is necessary, but ridiculous.

    2012 -- the year of IPv6

    I've been predicting for years that 2012 would be the year of the real push for IPv6.  It is also the year that the world ends thanks to the Mayan calendar, the year the the planet will flip upside down thanks to Nibriu, the year that John Cusak will turn into a bad actor (I want my two dollars back after seeing "2012"), and the year that your laptop will come with an SSD without you paying more for it.  So, if you've decided that you aren't going to sit 2012 out, someone around you or maybe you will be implementing IPv6.

    Plenty of Space

    The good news is that there are a "charge-de-cul" of addresses in IPv6 (128 bits).  So many that I'm not going to try to type that number here (2^128 addresses).  Jolokia has been assigned a /32, which is considered a "small" network.  Don't get this confused with the 32 bits in the current IPv4 address scheme, this "small" /32 assignment has 79228162514264337593543950336 addresses in it (96 bits).  It means that, even when assigning /48s to customers who need them, we'll have 65536 to give out (when we have more than a thousand subnets for customers running, I'm retiring).  In your /48 you'll be able to have 65536 networks of your own.  Inside these, LAN subnets are all /64s.  Within your LAN subnets you'll be able to have exponentially more addresses than the current internet has.  Even better, unless you're all enterprisey on your network, you can ditch the need for DHCP and just let machines assign their address based on their ethernet MAC or other unique identifier and retrieve their gateway addresses, DNS servers, network prefixes and more from Neighbor Discovery.

    The Transition

    So why has this taken so long?  Well, we humans don't like doing things unless someone's holding a gun to our head and giving us a deadline.  This one wasn't as pressing as the Y2K dud that the IT world got us through with so much non-excitement that it was downright boring and everyone forgot about all the massive amounts of work we did to make it that way.  The V6 transition doesn't have a deadline except for the issue that large Internet providers are going to be doing funky things to people who can't support IPv6.  Can you say "Carrier Grade NAT"?  Didn't think so, don't say it, get yourself some new equipment that can support IPv6 and switch.  Unforuntately, people will not do as I've just recommended and there will be a lovely transition period (some are predicting 10 years!) where we need to dual stack and hack our way through this.

    -- Mark Pace, CTO, Jolokia Networks

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