Global Crossing Gives Out Free IPv4 Software

Global Crossing is dabbling with a bit of philanthropy,
announcing Thursday it would release its in-house IP addressing
management source code to interested Internet service providers and other
providers.

The application is one of many applications service providers can use to
manage their customers’ IP addresses in an efficient manner, something
that’s become increasingly important as more and more users connect their
devices (be it a PC or a Web-enabled wireless phone) to the Internet.

Ben April, a network engineer at Global Crossing and author of the program,
said the decision to disseminate the program, free of charge, to all askers
comes from the interest it raised within the engineering community.

“We distributed e-mail within the IP engineering community to determine if
there was interest in the tool,” April said. “In two days, we received
more than 60 requests — people were begging for the tool.”

FreeIPdb is a Perl script that assigns new IP addresses and keeps track of
existing IP addresses in a company’s network. The free download can be
found at the FreeIPdb Web
site
. Several mailing lists have been established at the site to
provide a support community for new users and managed by April.

John Legere, Global Crossing chief executive officer, said the application
will help prolong the shelf life of IPv4 while a new IP addressing
architecture is rolled out worldwide.

“The FreeIPdb tool has been a boon to our IP network routing,” said John
Legere, chief executive officer of Global Crossing. “We’re pleased to make
it available to help the entire IP community get maximum advantage from
IPv4 as IPv6 is being globally deployed.”

The IPv4 standard used by the communications industry today was at one time
the most efficient standard used to keep track of all the people on the
Internet.

In the early 90s, engineers figured the addressing scheme would never need
to be overhauled because the total number of possible numbers was an
astronomically large one, something on the order of 4,294,967,296
hosts. Used primarily by the military, government, large corporations and
technophiles, there seemed to be no danger of running out of “breathing room.”

The huge commercial success of the World Wide Web took care of that
assumption and many experts agree that, left to its own devices, the
current crop of IP addresses will run out in 2005 or 2006.

IPv6 has emerged as the next-generation standard for IP addressing and will
be deployed in the coming years. But, until then, the message from the
three regional IP directories — Asia Pacific network Information Center
(APNIC), Reseaux IP Europeens Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC) and
American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) — is conserve, conserve, conserve.

Zeus Kerravala, a senior analyst at the Yankee Group, agrees with the
consensus and said Global Crossing’s database tool, or others like it, is
one every provider should have managing their IP addresses.

“IPv4 addressing is an increasingly scarce resource,” he said. “Global
Crossing’s FreeIPdb software tool offers a unique functional capability on
a global scale that enhances the efficiency of IP addressing and IP
management, putting more control back into the hands of the service provider.”

In addition to the source code, the FreeIPdb comes with an interface to
browse the IP addressing data files. Download size of the program is only
318 KB, although would-be users will need to have a Perl interpreter,
PostgreSQL 7.0 with Perl interface and Web server capable of running .cgi
scripts for a front-end.

The tool can be used when IPv6 finally does roll out, allowing providers to
migrate the application into the new standard.

Code author April said that while IPv6 will open up an IP addressing realm
orders of magnitude larger than IPv4, it’s wise for providers to get a
database program in place to manage the new scheme.

The smallest routable block in IPv6 is 322 times larger than all of IPv4
address space,” he said. “It is therefore crucial that good tools exist to
deal with the assignment and allocation of that space. There will be no
need to create a new tool or adapt FreeIPdb when IPv6 is available.”

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