With the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) on the brink of running out of IPv4 addresses, the days of putting off that IPv6 migration may be coming to an end.
To that end, Infoblox launched a free tool to help network architects and engineers plan their transition from IPv4 to IPv6. Called Infoblox 6Map, the online tool uses a question-and-answer format to help network engineers map out how IPv6 addresses can be assigned in their networks.
ARIN has said it expects that it soon will no longer be able to fulfill requests for IPv4 addresses, forcing it to activate its waiting list for unmet IPv4 requests. The organization keeps a counter of the dwindling IPv4 space it has available.
"The sky has indeed fallen for IPv4 addresses," Tom Hollingsworth, a network engineer and well-known blogger, wrote in a blog post last week.
According to Infoblox, a supplier of automated network control products, IPv6 calls for a completely different approach to planning and deployment compared to IPv4. The tool is designed to help network pros overcome IPv6 challenges. One of the first things network engineers need to do is to put together an IPv6 address plan, Tom Coffeen, Infoblox chief IPv6 evangelist, wrote in a blog post.
"This can immediately become an exercise in confusion and indecision for engineers only familiar with IPv4. Even using the relative abundance of private address space in IPv4, it’s unlikely that any subnets in your IPv4 address plan will contain more than a few thousand addresses," he wrote. "Yet suddenly, you’re sitting on (at the very least) 281 trillion Internets worth of addresses! Where to begin?"
The 6Map tool is based on three best practices: Plan for the number of subnets, not the number of host addresses; assign subnets in a way that leaves many in reserve for future use; and define as many subnets as needed.
Coffeen said the tool provides an intuitive wizard that allows network engineers to enter some information about the structure of the network and generate and download a printable map of subnet assignments for network elements. "By creating a 6Map account, the user is able to repeat the process and produce additional plans modeling different address planning approaches," he said.
Coffeen added that 6Map is not a substitute for IP address management (IPAM), and also noted limits to the level of network detail the tool can model. Nonetheless, Infoblox hopes the tool can help network architects in overcoming the "IPv4 thinking" that can be an obstacle to IPv6 planning, he said.
Of course, organizations still have alternatives to an IPv6 migration. Those put on ARIN's waiting list can look to the IPv4 transfer market and buy IPv4 addresses from organizations that don't need them.
In his blog post, entitled "The IPv6 Revolution Will Not Be Broadcast," Hollingsworth noted trends helping drive the IPv6 transition.
"IPv6 adoption is going to happen. We’ve reached the critical tipping point where the increased cost of acquiring IPv4 resources will outweigh the cost of creating IPv6 connectivity," he concluded.