Shortage of IPv4 Web addresses could impact smart grid, lighting, buildings, appliances
Reports surfaced last week that we’re running out of Web addresses. The Number Resource Organization, which is in charge of allocating Web addresses based on the IPv4 standard, warned that there is less than 10 per cent of these addresses left and that a severe shortage — and “grave consequences” — will be upon us if we don’t migrate quickly to the new IPv6 standard, which offers a virtually unlimited number of addresses. “The limited IPv4 addresses will not allow us enough resources to achieve the ambitions we all hold for global Internet access,” said NRO chairman Axel Pawlik. “The deployment of IPv6 is a key infrastructure development that will enable the network to support the billions of people and devices that will connect in the coming years.”
Most media coverage has highlighted the growth in laptops, mobile devices, servers and routers, but more eye-opening is the coming wave of “smart” grid devices that will need to have their own IP addresses. Thermostats, smart meters, dish washers, laundry machines/dryers, intelligent lighting (in homes and buildings), electric cars — really any appliances or devices or machine that will be controlled remotely through the Internet. Here’s a question I honestly have no answer to: Are energy management and smart grid/appliance companies — General Electric, for example — aware of this coming shortage of IP addresses, and have they taken the necessary measures to avoid the crisis?
Network World had an informative article on this issue in October.
Apparently it’s not difficult to migrate from IPv4 to IPv6, but it does require a lot of investment in software and hardware upgrades. Will the energy sector be caught off guard by this? I’d love to open this up for discussion from some more knowledgeable people… please enlighten us.