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LCA: IP address exhaustion and the end of the open net

Feb 07, 2011, 14:32 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jonathan Corbet)

"Geoff Huston is the Chief Scientist at the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre. His frank linux.conf.au 2011 keynote took a rather different tack than Vint Cerf's talk did the day before. According to Geoff, Vint is "a professional optimist." Geoff was not even slightly optimistic; he sees a difficult period coming for the net; unless things happen impossibly quickly, the open net that we often take for granted may be gone forevermore.

"The net, Geoff said, is based on two "accidental technologies": Unix and packet switching. Both were new at their time, and both benefited from open-source reference implementations. That openness created a network which was accessible, neutral, extensible, and commercially exploitable. [Geoff Huston] As a result, proprietary protocols and systems died, and we now have a "networking monoculture" where TCP/IP dominates everything. Openness was the key: IPv4 was as mediocre as any other networking technology at that time. It won not through technical superiority, but because it was open.

"But staying open can be a real problem. According to Geoff, we're about to see "another fight of titans" over the future of the net; it's not at all clear that we'll still have an open net five years from now."

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