The (North American) Internet Runs out of Addresses

Background

American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) announced earlier this week that they have officially exhausted IPv4 addresses.

ARIN is the official organization tasked with providing unique network addresses to organizations that need to have a presence on the Internet in North America. It is the organizational equivalent of RIPE which serves Europe and APNIC which serves Asia. Because North America has the largest presence on the Internet, it is safe to assume that ARIN is the most significant of these regional organizations.

IP Addresses are very fundamental to how the Internet works. They are the unique identifiers that tells the rest of the digital universe where your company’s computers/servers are located and that location information is critical for the digital universe to successfully reach you.

IP Network addresses are the equivalent of mailing addresses or zip codes on the internet. ARIN declaring that they’ve run out of IPv4 addresses is then analogous to the USPS announcing that they’ve run out of postal zip codes.

Next Steps

What to do? here are a few actionable ideas:

First, it’s time to conduct an internal inventory of all registered IP addresses assigned to your organization. You can get this info from ARIN if there are challenges locating this info internally. Then conduct a review of these assets (they are indeed precious assets now) and confirm they’re efficiently used. Have your teams confirm if there are addresses that can be harvested and reused? Also confirm that your scheduled product roll-out plans are already accounted for in terms IP address space needed.

Second, allocate additional spending in future budgets to buy IPv4 network addresses. Even though ARIN is not officially issuing (selling) new addresses, there’s a vibrant marketplace for buying IP addresses at prices much higher than ARIN would normally provide them.

Third, enlist the help of your cloud providers. The major cloud service providers already have enough addresses allocated to them and they are still able to provide IPv4 addresses. e.g. Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google GCP.

Finally, have an IPv6 transition plan in place and start testing it now. ARIN has been sounding the alarm bells on IPv4 depletion to organizations for a while now. They recommend that organizations begin to adopt and deploy IPv6. In fact, most ISPs in the US already support and have begun to roll out IPv6 in production. Also most large consumer-facing IT organizations like Facebook, Google, and Comcast also support IPv6 natively.

 

If you need help with assessing your organization’s readiness with IPv4 or IPv6, Tixzy Consulting is happy to help. Kindly contact us at info@tixzy.com