Well, IPv4 is running out as we know. What is interesting is that we are actually going for a bit of a rush at the end with blocks being used up faster than expected. Four blocks in November. We only have 2 more to go before we are at the end and some ceremonial handing over the of the final 5 blocks from IANA to the RIRs. It may even be before Christmas, but will certainly be soon.
The question is, what does this mean, to you and me or the man in the street?
Internet Service Providers
There are people that actually use IP addresses, where they are a day to day resource. ISPs like us. But even in a small organisation like A&A the allocation of IP is some obscure thing done by someone (me) every couple of years and not a day to day issue. The people on the ground can assign IPs using the systems and no problem. The issue is that I will probably not ever get a new block, or at least one of any useful size, from RIPE for IPv4. I might. It is possible we run low in the next few months and RIPE are not on a "last /8" policy, and we can get more, but unlikely. If I don't have a new block of IPs now, my next block will be a /21 at most (2048 IPs) and that will be it, for ever!!!
So ISPs will be hit soon - running out of IPs, and if they have any sense they have a plan for this, but do they?
People host servers with ISPs (hosting companies) and expect that they get at least "an IP address" as part of that, if not several. That will stop. Well, it will stop being simple. You have a server (with web site, email, whatever) and you may find you cannot get an IPv4 to use with it. What then? IPv6 only servers? Port mapping? Paying through the nose for IPv4s?
Some countries are embracing IPv6 and already have some IPv6 only services. To deal with such countries even now you have to have IPv6. This will get more widespread.
For most end users the end is not nigh yet. They have IPv4, even if NAT and NAT and NAT (By the way, NAT is evil!). But I foresee problems. They will be all sorts of niggles and annoynaces. Things not quite right. Stuff not working. The big things - google and facebook and twitter - will be fine, but some things won't be. It will gradually get worse and worse. Only once end users have IPv6 as well will there be some light at the end of the tunnel and some things "just work" over IPv6. But when can they get that, by default, from cheap ISPs?
Business will be the ones that actuall need working internet and for which the increasing problems of NAT, and IPv6 only services, will hit them financially. Any business that uses the internet (who doesn't) and does not have a plan for IPv6 will lose out - end of story...
There has to be some crime. IPv4 is becoming a valuable and scarse resource. That has to result in some crime. We are not sure what or how yet, but it will happen. What would you do if someone stole your IP addresses?
Even we have some bits not quite right. We have done IPv6 for 7 or 8 years but find snags even now. Our VoIP will be sorted over the next few months. But we are committed to making this work. We can support you as a business in moving to IPv6. OK, yeh, shameless plug, but what do you expect...