For most companies today, the availability of public IPv4 addresses is extremely restricted. But before I talk about what is being done to help mitigate the IPv4 address shortage, let’s look at how we got here.
Internet protocol (IP) addresses were created to uniquely identify a device on an IP network, such as the public internet. An IPv4 address consists of a 32-bit number space that is broken down into four octets (1 octet = 8 bits). IPv4 has approximately 4.3 billion (B) unique address combinations. However, when IPv4 was first defined in 1980, no one expected the internet to expand into what it is today. Smart phones, wearables and drones requiring IP addresses just did not exist, nor were they even dreamed of by most people at the time.
In 1994, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), knowing there was an impending IPv4 addressing problem, initiated the development of a new internet protocol version, IPv6. While the 32-bit addressing of IPv4 provides for ~4.3 B addresses, IPv6’s 128-bits provides ~340 undecillion (i.e. 340 trillion, trillion, trillion or 3.4 x 1038) unique addresses. The sheer size of this number is almost unfathomable.
IPv6 is the future and we’re well on our way in deployments. However, we won’t be discussing IPv6 in this article, but rather the shortage of available IPv4 addresses today and how an organization can acquire them quickly and affordably to meet their current and future needs.
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How IP address leasing is helping to address the IPv4 shortage
IP addresses are managed globally by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and five regional internet registries (RIRs) that have designated territories for assignment to local internet registries (LIRs), such as internet service providers (ISPs) and other large users.
IPv4 addresses are broken down into two categories: Provider Independent (PI) and Provider Aggregatable (PA). In brief, PI addresses can be moved between ISPs, whereas PA addresses cannot. The focus of the IP leasing market is on PI addressing. Most individuals and small to medium businesses (SMBs) are assigned PA IP addresses by their ISP. Any company can be assigned blocks of IP addresses by the RIRs but it’s more common for large companies to get them. ISPs and private companies that have purchased blocks of PI IP addresses can lease them to individuals or other companies.
The London-based IP lease, monetization and management service provider, Heficed, offers a unique IP Address Market platform where businesses can lease public IPv4 addresses from Heficed and other companies. An organization can monetize their excess, unused IPv4 address inventory by offering them for lease to other businesses through Heficed’s marketplace. This makes it easy for businesses of all sizes to access IPv4 addresses on an as needed basis, at lower rates and without having to incur a large capital expense.
IP address leasing scales business growth and resiliency
Heficed is the first company to make millions of IPv4 addresses available to Equinix customers, enabling companies with limited capacity to quickly scale-up their IP infrastructure locally, regionally and internationally. The Heficed IP Address Market enables businesses on Platform Equinix® to quickly and easily expand their public IPv4 addressing needs.
Businesses can lease as little as a single host address or as large as a /16. IP addresses can be leased indefinitely or on a monthly basis for internet, cloud or any situation in which public IPv4 addresses are needed. Businesses also have the choice to choose addressing from any of the RIRs without the need to have a presence in that region or an account with the RIR.
In addition to IPv4 addressing, Heficed can also lease 16-bit and 32-bit Autonomous System Numbers (ASNs) and even IPv6 addresses. Yes, apparently there’s a market for IPv6 leasing too. Heficed provides management and control for the IP addresses that it leases:
- Heficed actively monitors abuse reports for all subnets in the IP Marketplace.
- Dedicated teams contact IP owners and/or IP users to resolve any issues that may arise.
- Heficed automation monitors all subnets to ensure there are no rogue or hijacked addresses.
- Heficed can SWIP (Shared Whois Project) or sub-delegate leased IP prefixes as needed.
Accelerating internet access affordably
Companies today are looking for fast and easy ways to help remote workers get access to online cloud-based productivity and collaboration platforms such as Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams and Zoom. Heficed on Platform Equinix provides our customers with a quick and affordable way to acquire public IPv4 addresses for fast access to public internet and cloud ecosystems using Equinix interconnection services, such as Equinix Cloud Exchange, Equinix Connect, Network Edge and Equinix Internet Exchange.
“The IPv4 shortage has had its effect on hindering technology development and limiting operational expansion,” said Vincentas Grinius, CEO of Heficed. “We developed the IP Address Market to support businesses in overcoming the challenge and provide them with the much-needed IPs. That’s why we are excited about presenting Equinix customers with more opportunities to scale their ventures.”
Learn more by reading the IDC MarketScape Report: Worldwide Colocation and Interconnection Services 2019 – 2020 Vendor Assessment.