On January 31st, the last of the last of the available IPv4 address blocks were allocated by the IANA. The APNIC registrar requested the last two unreserved /8 address blocks, and this automatically triggered the release of the last 5 reserved address blocks, one to each of the five regional Internet registries (RIRs). Today, the IANA had a ceremony and press conference that commemorated the event that signals the technical exhaustion of new IPv4 addresses.
This doesn’t signal an immediate change, since each of the RIRs have IPv4 addresses they can continue to allocate, but it is significant in that it shows we need to prioritize the switch to IPv6. It’s estimated that the addresses that APNIC were given will be exhausted before June, and all of the remaining IPv4 addresses will be allocated within two years. Different RIRs allocate IP addresses at different rates, largely based on usage and population.
Whether the change has any significant impact over the next six months or the next couple of years, the writing is clearly on the wall: the 4.3 billion addresses available in IPv4 is not even close to meeting the future demands of the Internet with tens of billions of devices connected to it. The IPv6 address space is sufficiently large that it, for all practical purposes, there is no real limit. One popular analogy is that the address space is large enough that each person on the planet could have a unique IPv6 address assigned to each of the cells in their body.
As a developer, it’s important to start planning for the transition to IPv6. You don’t need to worry about the sky falling; IPv4 will continue to be used for many years. However, it’s also clear that IPv6 is the future. Large companies and government institutions are going to require that your software provides support for it. SocketTools will definitely help with seamless support for both IPv4 and IPv6 connections, without requiring significant changes to your software.