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Experts flag Internet’s scalability problems

Recently, experts have turned up the volume on questions about the scalability of the Internet using the technologies and techniques of today.

The questions go beyond the IP address problem. It's well known that we're running out of IP addresses under the current IPv4, and that a wholesale upgrade to IPv6 is necessary to accommodate all of the IP addresses we think we'll need. No one is doubting that we're running out of addresses – it's more of a question of when we will run out.

Last week, Network World's Carolyn Duffy Marsan covered the IETF's latest activities in depth. One story focused on a routing technique in the works, one that is intended to help BGP scale. It's called Locator/Identifier Separation Protocol, or LISP.

The goal that LISP is trying to achieve is to reduce the routing table size for BGP. One factor making those routing tables so large is the practice of multihoming, where companies split their traffic across more than one carrier to make their networks more reliable.

Nemertes Research's Johna Till Johnson asked bluntly, “Is the Internet doomed to fail?” She cites the failure of IPv6 deployment, and also notes that demand for access to the Internet will likely exceed capacity in 2012, based on current rates of growth. She says content and service providers have actually started to ask whether we need an Internet at all – if smaller networks might make more sense.

I have to agree with her that, instead, the scalability problems of the Internet can and will be fixed. What do you think?

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