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IPv6: Zeno's Paradox and Invisible Brick Walls

Yves Poppe

As we continue our ride toward the exhaustion of IPv4 addresses, Regional Internet Registries public discussion groups such as the ARIN PPML mailing list remain filled with endless discussions on how large swaths of allocated IPv4 addresses are unused, should be reclaimed or recycled one way or another, maybe be put on the free market and sold to the highest bidder or parsed out in more egalitarian controlled ways.

Although everyone now accepts the notion of IPv4 address exhaustion, it seems to be for some an invisible glass wall and for others a gold brick wall worth the death of the internet to get a piece of it. For others still, the wall will never be reached, just as Achilles will never overtake the tortoise or the arrow never reach its target. Our modern day Zeno's seem to believe that by adding layer upon layer of NAT's, the address exhaustion wall will not be reached in their lifetime or at least until their retirement. To prove them wrong could still take some time. After all it took about two thousand years to see Cantor prove old Zeno wrong.

In the meantime, the upcoming IETF in Minneapolis will see a half dozen transition mechanisms in search of legitimacy, their respective champions passionate to see their approach prevail with the minimum of alterations. Add another two years or so before RFC status and implementation in vendor software… A chance of a wall somewhere on our path in the meantime?

Luckily, while some figure out the essence of that wall and clever ways to soften and cushion a seemingly inevitable impact, some are busy trying to move it inch by inch out of the way. The routing table has reached a thousand IPv6 prefixes (see Public Policy Meeting ReportIPv6 Routing Table Report by Cathy Aronson), the number of devices bearing the IPv6 Forum Gold Label is zeroing on 300. The ARIN/CAIDA survey (see Public Policy Meeting ReportIPv6 Penetration Study by KC Claffy) of more than 1000 respondents show nearly half of them plan IPv6 transition and 10% of them cite difficulty to get sufficient IPv4 address space as a motivation.

Zeno might still get his revenge.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in these articles are solely those of the author and are not in any way attributable to nor reflect any existing or planned official policy or position of his employer in respect thereto.

By Yves Poppe, Director, Business Development IP Strategy at Tata Communications – (Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in these articles are solely those of the author and are not in any way attributable to nor reflect any existing or planned official policy or position of his employer in respect thereto.) Visit Page
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