IPv4 address exchange

David Conrad drc at virtualized.org
Tue Apr 19 16:16:35 UTC 2011


On Apr 19, 2011, at 3:46 AM, John Curran wrote:
> Does it have to get worse simply because there is change?  

Have to?  No.  However, historically, entropy has generally increased.

> I see no particular 
> reason that the Internet number registry system can't evolve into something
> with multiple registries including overlapping service regions and competition 
> if that's what folks actually want.

We already have multiple registries, albeit with arbitrary (and increasingly unjustifiable and unsustainable) geographical service area monopolies.  This actually points to one of the symptoms of the underlying problem: a near terminal case of NIH syndrome.  For example, just for fun, compare/contrast the results of the following 5 commands (to pick a prefix at semi-random):

% whois -h whois.afrinic.net
% whois -h whois.apnic.net
% whois -h whois.arin.net
% whois -h whois.lacnic.net
% whois -h whois.ripe.net

Note the wildly differing response structure/schemas/tags/values/etc. Being objective, doesn't this strike you as insane?  Even ignoring the simple brokenness of everybody having their own registry data schema/response, I keep hearing from anti-spam folks, law enforcement, network operators, etc., that the quality of the data actually returned is simply abysmal.  And soon, network operators are going to be asked to make routing decisions on this data not just at customer acceptance time.

However, as far as I can tell, multiple registries isn't what is implicitly being proposed.  What appears to be eing proposed is something a bit like the registry/registrar split, where there is a _single_ IPv4 registry and multiple competing 'post-allocation services' providers.  A single registry with a single database schema and data representation would seem to me to be infinitely better than what we have now (and what it looks like we're moving towards).  I personally don't have a strong opinion on the competitive address registrar idea as long as there is a consistent set of registration requirements, but in my experience (reasonably regulated) competition tends to bring higher quality/lower prices vs. monopolies.

> Registrants may have exclusive use of their 
> numbers, but the network operators also have a right to know the registration
> of any given piece of address space.  

I'm not sure I see that there should be a difference in the operational requirements for the DNS registration data, but that's a separate topic.

> As you know, multiple IP registries 
> would definitely pose some coordination challenges in being able to reliably
> account for all of the address space at any given moment.

Which is exactly my point.  Given that market forces are driving the establishment of (presumably) competitive "address registrars", of which the first two now apparently exist, how are network operators going to deal with the proliferation of whois databases they're going to need to query to establish 'ownership' of prefixes?

> What we lack is any meaningful proposals on how to restructure the Internet
> number registry system, including what are the goals of doing such, how are 
> those goals and the existing requirements are met, and what protections are 
> needed for integrity of the system.

Unfortunately, I suspect we are past the time in which a well thought out, global consultative action (even assuming an agreeable venue for such a consultation can be identified) would result in a plan of action before being overtaken by events. There are already two "address registrars" and at least 5 (6 if you count IANA) address whois databases.  I expect there to be more in the future, particularly now there is an existence proof that you can sell addresses and the Internet doesn't explode. 

Hoever, perhaps I'm being too pessimistic.  What venue do you propose for a global consultative action to be taken in an open, transparent, an unbiased manner?

> Personally, I do not see it as inevitable that "alternative registries" must 
> have a detrimental impact to the WHOIS database, unless they are introduced 
> in an uncoordinated manner and without global discussion of the actual goals.

This coming from the CEO of the RIR that decided to come up with their own (and yet another) completely new replacement for the whois protocol (maybe the 5th attempt will be the charm)...


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