iPhone app predicts IPv4 doomsday

The tool counts down the days until all IPv4 addresses have been assigned

If you're the kind of person who walks down the street worrying about the depletion of IPv4 addresses, the iPhone can now tell you how long you have until that happens.

There are a limited number of addresses left for Internet Protocol, version 4, the system that has powered the Internet since before the Web. After they have all been handed out, service providers and enterprises will have to make their systems work with the next version, IPv6, or use workarounds.

IPv6 network backbone and collocation provider Hurricane Electric introduced on Tuesday an iPhone application that counts down the number of days until that moment of reckoning.

On a simple page, the application lists statistics such as the number of IPv4 addresses remaining and the number of domains already using IPv6. The counter for remaining IPv4 addresses goes down in real time, though it's based on the calculated rate of depletion, not assignments of addresses in real time. (A second page shows Hurricane Electric facilities on a map.) At the bottom of the countdown page, in large type, is the number of days left until IPv4 addresses are exhausted. On Wednesday, it was 699.

Figuring out how long that depletion will take is no easy task, because the IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority) hands out IPv4 addresses on the basis of requests from RIRs (Regional Internet Registries), which in turn allocate them to the entities that use them. Those requests can't be predicted. Several researchers have studied the problem, including Geoff Huston of Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) and Tony Hain of Cisco Systems. Their reports involve detailed mathematical analysis -- and acknowledgments that the predictions are conditional and subject to change.

"That's great, but for some people, to get the message across, you just need the bottom line," said Martin Levy, director of IPv6 strategy at Hurricane. The company compiles information from those and other sources to come up with its own date prediction. Levy acknowledged it's an inexact science.

"There's no Y2K day. There's no flag day," Levy said. "It isn't like on the first day of January 2010, we all have to swap." The actual date could even come much earlier if the impending depletion causes demand to accelerate in a "land rush" for the last addresses, he added. But even though the 699-day prediction is nothing more than an educated guess of educated guesses, it matters, Levy said.

"This counter is nontrivial. It exists, and it exists in a way that will affect nearly everybody in the Internet industry," he said.

There are tools to keep IPv4 clients communicating with IPv6 hosts and vice versa, but they add another layer of complexity and cost to service-provider networks. At least one method, called carrier-class network address translation, could affect an Internet user's experience if a service provider's network gets bogged down by that task, according to Levy.

"We expect to see a lot of translation devices ... but the performance will be best if you've changed your server to have IPv6 as well as IPv4," said John Curran, president and CEO of the American Registry for Internet Numbers, the RIR that assigns addresses in the U.S.

If Hurricane's prediction is correct -- APNIC's Huston is close behind, foreseeing 701 days until depletion -- then the IPv4 address space will be exhausted sometime in mid-2011. But that shouldn't put any large organization at ease if it hasn't moved toward IPv6, according to the Internet Society, the nonprofit group that oversees the Internet Engineering Task Force. IT managers need to train staff, figure out which servers and routers need development work, and test the solutions they create, said Matt Ford, the Internet Society's technology program director.

"If you're going to successfully make the transition to IPv6 ... you really have to start now," Ford said.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags ipv6ipv4iPhoneiphone apps

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Cygnett 2500 ChargeUp Pocket Lightning Portable Power Bank

Learn more >

James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >

Mobile

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?