February 18, 2011, 4:03 PM — Vint Cerf takes his title of Chief Internet Evangelist for Google seriously, and is knee-deep in several projects to bring the next versions of the Internet into being. These projects include pushing for worldwide IPv6 adoption, but they don't include plans for an IPv7.
Cerf sat down with Network World's Cisco Subnet editor, Julie Bort, at the annual Digital Broadband Migration conference in Boulder, Colo., to discuss the future of IP, home networking, the Internet of Things, preventing the so-called Internet "kill switch," and other topics. Here is part one of the edited interview.
Is there, or will there be, an IPv7, and what new problems will it solve?
During the period of time when we were trying to figure out what to do about expanding in the address space, there were actually four proposals made. Those were eventually narrowed down to one. So actually, 7, 8, 9, don't exist. At the moment there doesn't seem to be any incentive for inventing yet another one. Now the whole problem is to get IPv6 distributed and widely implemented before we literally run out of IPv4 address space.
But that shouldn't stop anyone from thinking about new ways of redesigning the Internet. In fact there's a "clean sheet" effort taking place at Stanford University, supported by the National Science Foundation, to look at how would we design the Internet today knowing all the things that we already know about it. At least one concrete outcome has been an "openflow router" which handles packets in a different way than traditional routers. But as far as I know there aren't any new plans for IP-level protocol changes. Someday there will be, I'm sure. (See story: "Showtime for OpenFlow at GENI advanced networking project event")
Will the public/average consumer ever need to make sure all of their home devices (routers, etc.) speak IPv6 ... or will NAT and carriers' efforts to bridge IPv4 to IPv6 be enough for the coming decade?