Last month there was a little concern in the general media about the Internet running out of IP space and some customers contacted us about their concerns. We love energetic customers with questions.  Below is one of our customers’ comment and question:

“Dice predicted that IPv4 IPs would be completely allocated in the next 18 months.  Obviously (if this is true), they are interested in having people know something about IPv6 so they can have such expertise in their job exchange.

Do we as users of ipHouse need to be concerned about hardware, software, other implications of this — DSL, DNS, etc., etc. …”

Our network engineer Doug McIntyre responded and sent this to our customer:

The popular press picking up news about the pending IPv4 exhaustion is pretty much high gloss over any of the real meat of the matter.   The effects that this will have on the average user in the United States will be nil for at least 5 years if not longer. ISPs and the regional registrars will be sitting on their IPv4 pools, and there may be a space crunch if some new ISP takes off that can connect millions of devices in short order.  That could be read as – wireless carrier or cable company, but these companies have a large amount of IP space already.  Where the current crunch has been for some time, is in Asia.  China alone is quoted at having something on the order of 400 million people now on the Net.

IPv6 has been in testing for ages. I had IPv6 tunnels going in the 1990’s for the ISP I was working for at the time.  Needless to say, the ipHouse network core is full IPv6 routing.  Our website is available via IPv6:

$ dig +noall +answer www.iphouse.com aaaa
 www.iphouse.com.      597      IN      AAAA      2001:4980:0:4000::1

In fact, many of our servers are using IPv6; DNS, SMTP, POP, IMAP, members, ipMom, and NOC servers have been using IPv6 since October 2010.

Implementing IPv6 for hosting customers is very straightforward.  We’ve been doing it on a case by case basis as colocation customers request it.

Right now, one big issue is the consumer grade CPE equipment Those hardware manufacturers can’t be bothered to do anything until they absolutely need to.  As a result, most DSL boxes can’t do IPv6 connectivity natively to this day.  All the major enterprise network hardware can though.  Obviously all of our stuff does it just fine (Cisco, Juniper, F5, Fortigate).

How this will all play out in the end years down the road is, probably in Asia first, the lack of IPv4 addresses will start forcing access customers there only be able to get IPv6 addresses for their connections.  Thus, any content provider (ie. Google, Facebook, JoeBob Store) will be either forced to have a native IPv6 presence or their content will only be accessible through third party proxy gateways that convert it to IPv4.  (The first two companies I named already have IPv6 presence, it’s the little guys that may have to worry)  When the big IPv6 to 4 proxy gateways get so overloaded to be unusable any longer, those with native IPv6 presence will get the business that all these consumers are driving.

For people already connected here is the US, there will be not much noticeable change at all. Eventually the CPE access devices driven by the requirements in Asia will trickle back to the US, and people here will be able to have access in either IPv4 or IPv6.  If you’ve got an IPv4 address today, as most US connections do, you’ll be fine.  There is very little reason for content providers to disable IPv4 when the vast majority of customers are accessing them via IPv4.

A few days later we got this question about IPv6:

“Wondering what your plans are to support this with your home customers.  I have a Cisco 678 modem that I’m guessing doesn’t support it, but thought that maybe tunnels could be setup or something.  DNS might be a question, too.  Just thought I’d ask, because I know it’s just on the horizon.”

Again, our man Doug answered the question:

Our website is fully up on IPv6, as well as DNS, and the rest of our network.   We do offer native IPv6 DSL connections, but as you state the 678 doesn’t support it.  In fact, there’s hardly *any* consumer grade hardware that supports native IPv6.  You can do it with Cisco IOS based hardware (ie. Cisco 887), or by hacking some of the other consumer stuff and putting the OpenWRT OS on them.   Doing a tunnel is easy enough, but its probably easier for you just to go to HE’s Tunnelbroker.net service and have it done automatically by them.  Most of the IPv6 peer interconnects happen where their tunnels terminate anyway, plus they offer a lot of tutorials and such there.  If you do want the tunnel to terminate here just let me know.

The customer followed up and confirmed to us what we suspected:

“Just ran into this that confirmed that Cisco isn’t doing ipv6 for consumers but Netgear appears to be:  http://www.networkworld.com/news/2011/020811-cisco-linksys-ipv6.html

So how does IPv6 affect our customers?  It doesn’t affect them – yet.   Once IPv6 becomes the only address available to an end users, the content they want  access to  needs to be available via IPv6, and content providers will make sure they can be seen.

If you’ve got technical questions or comments, send them our way.  We love to talk tech.

-Peace

Bil