retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US is almost out of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, a situation that "could mean headaches - and significant costs - for U.S. businesses looking to expand on the Internet."

This isn't just a US problem. The Journal also says that "Asia essentially ran out in 2011, and Europe a year later."

IP addresses, the Journal explains, "are the Internet’s equivalent of telephone numbers. These numerical codes are different from the familiar top-level domain names that end in .com or .org. They are used behind the scenes anytime data moves over the Net - when a laptop requests a Web page, a smartphone posts an Instagram photo or a Nest thermostat downloads a software update.

"The shortage puts companies that maintain their own large and growing Internet presence at the biggest risk, especially providers of cloud-computing services. Such companies could find themselves saddled with unexpected costs, technical problems or simply an inability to serve new customers. Those that aren’t building out their own data centers won’t face the shortage directly, but their online providers likely will."

In order to compensate, US companies are actually buying allotments from other companies, sometimes using the equivalent of real estate brokers to identify and acquire them, or upgrading their Internet Protocols "from the old-school IPv4 system to the next-generation IPv6, which offers a much larger number of addresses." That upgrade, according to the Journal, "isn’t cheap. Research firm Gartner says a companywide migration costs about 7% of the company’s annual IT budget."

I don't know about you, but I had no idea about anything of this ... I knew the term 'IP address," but did not know much more than that.

Which makes this, I suppose, the very definition of an Eye-Opener.
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