ARIN IPv4 Address Exhaustion… Keep Calm and Internet On (Part 3)

The inevitable has finally occurred… As of September 24th, 2015, ARIN reported it had completely run out of available IPv4 addresses of all block sizes. Articles dating as far back as 2008 discussing this eventuality can be readily found and while it took a few years for the event to occur (likely a few more than originally expected by most due to various reasons as previously discussed in our past blog), the day is finally upon us. Even I expected this to happen sooner when I started my three part blog on IPv6 and was waiting to post the conclusion after it finally happened.

In my previous two blogs, I discussed the options for organizations to mitigate the depletion of IPv4 addresses and possible impacts incurred by this depletion. In this final post, I will look at what immediate actions can be taken now by organizations to better position themselves to manage the transition to IPv6.

What we can (should) be doing now…

As a business, there are no obviously critical reasons to immediately start frantically rolling out IPv6 across your network (doing this will inevitably break things, I promise) but we cannot condone waiting until the tipping point of criticality occurs to start the transition work. What I do feel is important to be done in the near term is gathering requirements for an organizational rollout of IPv6, identifying deficiencies, and creating a plan to alleviate these deficiencies. This will help insure successful delivery of an IPv6 rollout when the organization is ready to embrace it.

For many organizations, IT is often given the “don’t fix what isn’t broken” treatment and network infrastructure is often one of the worst offenders because of associated costs and the impact on business when upgrades are performed. As long as the switches keep switching and the routers keep routing, there is often no perceived reason to invest further. This mentality has resulted in a lot of infrastructure components, both hardware and software, remaining in service well beyond their intended life span and will likely have issues supporting IPv6. Also, much of this hardware that will require upgrading is deeply entrenched within the infrastructure making it very costly to replace. Even with a highly skilled team, the project scope will still be very complex, lengthy, and fraught with risk.

Just a few days into the fourth quarter of 2015, the ship has sailed for many organizations when it comes to 2016 budgets. For many the next opportunity at securing resources to implement an infrastructure upgrade of this nature will be the 2017 budget. This also means it will likely be EOY 2017, if not sometime into 2018, before projects are completed. The idea of a 30-36 month (or longer) lag time to completion is a little scary as a lot will change between now and then. Despite being a little scary, some of this lag time is welcomed because organizations will need time to get a grip on what this upgrade will require.

Have you already started thinking about your 2017 budgets?

Where we start…

As with many consulting firms, WMP loves our scorecards. Below is a basic scorecard used when doing a quick risk based IPv6 Readiness Assessment.

Risk Domain

Optimal (1 Point)

Sub-Optimal (2 Points)

Deficient (3 Points)

Infrastructure Health

  • Average age 0 – 3 years
  • Firmware upgrades routinely applied on all components
  • All equipment under active support
  • Component resources less than 25% utilized
  • Average age 4 – 6 years
  • Firmware upgrades applied inconsistently across components
  • Core components under active support
  • Component resources less than 50% utilized
  • Average age 5+ years
  • Minimal or no firmware upgrades applied
  • Core components end-of-life/support
  • Component resources greater than 50% utilized

Technological Competency

  • Staff with IPv6 implementation and operational experience
  • Staff with only IPv6 operational experience
  • Staff with only academic or no IPv6 experience

Infrastructure Complexity

  • Small network footprint
  • One routing protocol
  • Highly standardized configuration
  • Medium network footprint
  • Two routing protocols and some static routing
  • Standardized core component configuration
  • Large network footprint
  • Multiple routing protocols, static routing, complex redistribution
  • Non-standardized component configurations

Environment Knowledge

  • Applications well understood
  • Network is well documented
  • Mediocre application understanding
  • Network documentation present but not updated
  • Total lacking of application knowledge
  • Non-existent network documentation

To use the scorecard, identify which column your organization best fits within each row then add up the number of points accumulated by each row for a total score. Feel free to give yourself a half point if there is not a clear fit into one single column.

  • Five (5) or less shows a strong position and the organization can often stay the current course to achieve success
  • Six (6) to nine (9) shows areas for concern but are often with some adjustments manageable by the organization
  • Ten (10) or higher shows multiple areas of concern which will require dramatic adjustment before embarking on such a complex project

This scorecard should not be taken too seriously as it is far from a comprehensive analysis and each organization is unique. Some of these measurements are subjective (e.g. infrastructure size) and there are plenty of additional factors (e.g. staff availability) that should be taken into account for a complete and accurate analysis.

If your scorecard results give reason for concern, feel free to reach out to me or any of our contacts here at WMP. Our team is more than happy to spend some time with you discussing your score and what they might mean to your organization.

Good luck on your journey to IPv6!

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