Internet addresses will run out soon and IT managers should prepare for the significant expense of moving to the next version of Internet Protocol (IP), according to the chairman of the Internet Architecture Board (IAB).
Speaking at the INET conference in Geneva this week, IAB chairman Brian Carpenter said the version of IP in current use - IPv4 - will run out of addresses, forcing a move to the successor of the protocol.
Carpenter said: 'Some time after 2005, we will run out of addresses.
Everyone should be ready - vendors and corporate IT managers should be ready to change.'
Migrating to IPv6 would be similar to moving to a new operating system, according to Carpenter: 'It may be a clerical job but it is a significant expense because you have to do work on every server and every desktop.
It will be a real expense and if you take a short-term view it will show on the bottom line.'
Addresses could run out even quicker, warned Scott Bradner, senior technical consultant at Harvard University and the Internet Society's vice president of standards.
Bradner said one company planned to give IP addresses to 100 million mobile phones, and another had suggested giving vending machines IP addresses.
He said that, if such plans went ahead, 'IP addresses will run out very fast indeed'.
An IP address is a 32-bit number that identifies the sender or receiver of information across the internet. IPv4 is running out of addresses but IPv6, the latest version, expands the system to 128 bits, making available a vast number of additional addresses.
Carpenter said address consumption had been less than some people expected, but there was a limit to the amount of 'retrofitting and band aiding' that could be applied to the protocol, making the move to IPv6 inevitable.
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