IPv4 Crisis: Another Important Thing No One Cares About
Switch to v6 is coming along, but users will be even more clueless about where they are online
The number of smart and not-so-smart devices wanting to get online continues to increase so quickly that the last available blocks of Internet Protocol v4 addresses will be given out early in 2011.
This is obviously a disaster of such monumental proportions that it was actually covered on CNN.com, though the story included an irrelevant reference to fears about the Y2K problem, and was appeared in the first place basically because the CNN tech writer picked up a ReadWriteWeb item and decided to translate it for normal people.
Normal people don't care about IPv4 addresses or how many are left. Even though these are the same users who go out of their way to tell you how non-technical they are, but form an unassailable coalition that is demanding IT change its whole infrastructure, budgets, services, security and everything else to accomodate the cloud, SAAS and mobile tech they use in their non-work lives.
Some IT people don't like that requirement any more than they did the intrusion of IM or streaming video or local networks or rogue Web sites, but that's just a workplace conflict issue.
Most IT people don't care about IP addresses because they're boring.
It's not like it's a surprise that we're running out. It's been clear for more than a decade that we'd have to switch from the limited number of 32-bit IPv4 addresses and to the less-limited number of 128-bit IPv6 addresses, even though they're harder to read, and uglier.
Most companies have been doing that gradually, especially for hardware that touches the Internet, rather than only internal resources, for at least three or four years.
Using them both together requires all kinds of bridges and translations , so a lot of companies put it off as long as they could, but not forever.
IPv6 vendor gogo6 released a survey in June showing 53 percent of IT people were testing migrations, 30 percent were researching them, 17 percent are deploying or in production and the condition of 9 percent was "other."
ISPs, telecoms and other companies whose networks make up the Internet are much farther along, as is the DNS system, which has been adapted to deal with IPv6 as well as IPv4.
Like Y2K this has all been a huge amount of work for IT and, like Y2K, when we hit the a capriciously chosen deadline, normal people aren't going to notice one way or another.
The one depressing thing in the gogo6 survey was that 70 percent of IT people planned to migrate their home nets to IPv6 at the same time they did it at work.
It's more efficient that way, of course, but it means even geeks will adapt more quickly to the longer, twitchier look of IPv6 addresses rather than IPv4 numbers, which have become comfortingly easy to recognize.
And it means the cryptic obsolesence my favorite idiot geek T-shirt will come that much faster than it should.
All to soon people will forget that There's no place like 127.0.0.1.