Visualizing IPv4 addresses on the Internet

It is well-known that available IP addresses in the IPv4 address space are becoming limited, but how does that look? IT pro Rick Vanover offers a visualization of the situation.

The IPv4 over-allocation comes up frequently in discussing the eventual exhaustion of available IPv4 addresses; in fact, Michael Kassner's recent post explains how available addresses are almost exhausted and that the days are limited for IPv4. The current situation of the IPv4 address space can be visualized to show who has what addresses, what is full, and what is available.

There are a number of resources to help determine what the Internet looks like and how it moves between geographic zones. Here are a few ways we can visualize what the Internet's IPv4 addresses and connections look like.

CAIDA IPv4 census

In 2006, the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA) produced a census of the IPv4 addresses. The census sent an array of ping tasks to addresses all over the Internet. The census clearly isn't reliable, as many addresses won't respond to ping commands. Nonetheless, the census map gives a visual representation of who has what addresses and how utilized they are. Figure A shows the 2006 status of the blocks of addresses and their utilization. Figure A

Figure A

Image reproduced from Click image to enlarge.

ICAAN Internet node map

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICAAN) maintains a registry of the IPv4 addresses that are assigned. This resource lists the allocation of the entire address space. A post at ICAAN by Kim Davies outlines how the Internet address space was initially how the allocations were mapped from the origins of the Internet to a 2006 map that gives a visual indication of who owns what address space now. Figure B shows the ICAAN Map of the Internet.

Figure B

Figure B

Image reproduced from ICAAN. Click image to enlarge.

IPv4 addresses for sale?

Many allocations of the Internet are assigned to organizations, usually technology companies that were thinking it may be a good idea to invest in these blocks of the Internet addresses. Do companies like HP, Xerox, IBM, Prudential, and more need an entire 8-bit network on the Internet? In most situations, these address spaces are more than what is needed.

What do these visualization resources mean to you for the IPv4 address space? Share your comments below.


Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.

Editor's Picks