[ppml] NANOG IPv4 Exhaustion BoF

Geoff Huston gih at apnic.net
Thu Mar 6 18:23:04 EST 2008

Tom Vest wrote:

>> And drive the industry to IPv6 deployment.
>> Geoff
> I think we all wish this is how things will go.
> But it could just as easily go the other way, and either vector could 
> easily be pre-empted by major unwelcome surprises.
> Randy's very educational demonstrations have revealed that there's a 
> long way to go before anything is 100% certain.
> In the mean time, new entrants are not going to be the ones to pioneer 
> this effort, because they'd still have to wait for the big guys to get 
> their act together in order to be able to benefit much from entering the 
> business. So if anyone is to lead, it will be the big guys. Do we 
> believe that they're holding out until they know they can monetize their 
> future IPv4 surplus assets?  Do we believe that they're simply unable to 
> afford the transition unless they can extract large sums from the IPv4 
> trade? Who is going to provide those sums, if not other big operators? 
> Or do we think that adding a seven digit number to the cost of starting 
> up will fill the gap without sparking internal rebellions and external 
> interventions?
> One could also say that OPEC and increasing "real" oil scarcity is 
> leading to the adoption of hydrogen fuel cell technology. In fact one 
> could have said that back in the early 1970s too; we could still be 
> saying in 20-30 years from now. Burning bridges behind you when the 
> future is still uncertain just doesn't seem like prudent planning to me...

About the only time we had a choice in this particular saga was around 4 
- 5 years back when the post-bust economic recovery lifted the Ipv4 
address consumption rate from around 4 /8's per year to around 10 /8's 
per year. At that time there was still sufficient space in the 
unallocated address pool to support a dual stack transition without 
undue escalation of the pain barrier. But there were no economic signals 
whereby this could be expressed. The cost of IPv4 deployments continued 
to fall in unit cost terms so its little wonder than there was no 
serious deployment of IPv6 - the underlying differential pricing signals 
were simply not present and IPv6 was additional cost without any 
incremental revenue opportunities.

But, like it or not Tom, the bridge behind us is already in cinders (I 
suppose I should be thankful that the analogy has moved on from  sinking 
ships, stampedes, and train crashes to burning bridges ! :-) ). However, 
I find it hard to sift through your words here to extract what you are 
simply stating as a preferred outcome, so instead let me restate my 
perspective here.

Scarcity in IPv4 addresses will be reflected in price in any market 
scenario. When demand outstrips supply this is an entirely conventional 
outcome. The market also has characteristics that lead to expectations 
of high volatility. Again, this is not uncommon and frankly really 
cannot be avoided. However, there is a form of substitution that in and 
of itself is not without cost, but when the price of IPv4 in such a 
market exceeds the substitution cost of deployment of IPv6 then the 
market signal regarding IPv6 deployment would be clear to all.

So one can either say "the future is this big scary unknown place that 
we shouldn't tamper with", or you can do what you can to mitigate some 
of the more destructive potential outcomes and attempt to encourage some 
of the more beneficial ones. Now if your aim is to make IPv4 last 
forever then obviously we disagree about what is a net beneficial 
outcome for this Internet.


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