The Post Christmas Portable Device iSuck

After each Christmas for the last few years, we began seeing more people bringing into their corporate and school networks, new personal devices they received as gifts. This year was no exception, and the post-Christmas 2011 season has seen an astonishing amount of new personal device purchases. New and less expensive versions by Apple of the iPad, iPhone, and iPod, made it a great gift idea this year. Not to be outdone, Amazon sold record numbers of their new Kindle Fire. Barnes & Noble also has a Nook, personal reader. The tablet market, re-energized by the iPad also saw other manufacturers introducing new devices running the Google Android operating system. The shift to a personal device and less reliance on the desktop or even laptop computer for day-to-day use has truly come to fruition over this holiday season. Most of these devices all now have mobile wireless cards in them, and some broadband wireless cards.

While we can't stop progress, we need to be wary of what the influx of these new devices with wifi capability mean to the networks we maintain. Particularly, if you have a business or organization with over 200 staff we're beginning to tap out existing IP ranges in typical IPv4 Class C, 24 bit (/24) subnet'd network configurations. While the depletion of IPv4 Public IP space is a Global concern and being addressed with the shift to IPv6, the legacy IPv4 stack is something that's going to have to be managed in the foreseeable future. IPv6 alone won't solve the entire problem, as we're going to have to maintain a dual-stack environment (IPv4 & IPv6) to access the internet as we know it today.

Creating new internal NAT ranges and doing more routing locally, will help to alleviate the problem in the short term, but this isn't without it's consequences and all new sets of problems. Policies for restricting the access of these devices to corporate and school networks also needs to be addressed. This could enforce the use of the personal device's provider network on the these devices, rather than increase the load to already stressed internal corporate wireless networks. In most production wireless environments we've dealt with, iPads and other personal devices allowed onto a traditional internal wireless network, hold their dhcp assigned address by keeping the wifi connection alive, even while on broadband, so that the assigned address becomes unusable to any other clients even while not actively using the connection. This is contributing to what we are calling this new IPv4 address iSuck, as we're seeing all of the IP's being sucked up by these new personal mobile devices.