December 14, 2010

Tools and Strategies for Coping with IPv4 Address Depletion

The IPv4 address space will be depleted in a few short years. In fact, at the highest levels of the Internet addressing authorities, the pool will be depleted as soon as mid 2011, if not earlier. How soon this depletion affects your network depends on a number of factors, including how much unused IPv4 address space you currently hold and how many addresses are required to sustain your network's annual growth. Broadband network providers are likely to begin feeling the pinch as soon as 2012, while some enterprise network operators may or may not feel a direct impact for many years.

At the same time, IPv6 is still in the very early stages of deployment. Very few network operators, even those with aggressive deployment plans, have completed IPv6 rollouts. Most network operators have not even begun IPv6 deployment. This leaves the door open to many questions. How do we continue to grow our networks when there are no new IPv4 addresses to give new users? And even as IPv6 is opened to new users, how do they continue to connect older devices that only support IPv4? How do they continue to reach content on the Internet that remains IPv4 only? How do they support legacy IPv4 applications and devices?

There are a number of technological solutions to these problems. This paper provides a detailed discussion of these solutions for network engineers and architects. The issues and potential problems you should consider when choosing among the solutions are also discussed.

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