Axel Pawlik

Year in Review and Looking Ahead to 2015

Axel Pawlik
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RIPE NCC Managing Director Axel Pawlik recently gave an interview about what he sees as the most important developments of 2014 and looks ahead to the big issues in 2015.

This article was originally published in Dutch by ISP Today .

1. What was the most important development in 2014 and why?

In 2014 the biggest development has been the ongoing process around what is often referred to as the “IANA stewardship transition”. In March, the United States Government announced that it would be stepping out of its "oversight" role and transitioning key Internet functions. This refers to its oversight of “the IANA functions" — the top-level management of the system of IP addresses, domain names, and protocol parameter registries, which is currently performed by ICANN under a contract with the US Government. 

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA, the US Government agency currently responsible for the IANA functions agreement) has said it will only proceed with the transition if the security, stability and resilience of the IANA functions can be ensured by an appropriate multistakeholder solution. There is now a global process by all Internet stakeholders to develop such a solution, with discussions taking place in affect communities, including the Internet numbers community, of which the RIPE community is one part.

As a Regional Internet Registry (RIR), the RIPE NCC is engaging with this process to ensure the interests of its 11,000 members (and the wider Internet community) are well represented. The RIPE community is working with the other four RIR communities to develop a proposal for IANA stewardship, particularly as it relates to Internet number resources (IP addresses and Autonomous System Numbers).

In a relatively short period of time, the global Internet community has made great strides in this process; it has been encouraging to watch and to be a part of it. In a sense, this transition represents the final stage in the Internet becoming a truly global resource. The US Government’s unique oversight role, which was valuable in the early days of the Internet, is seen by many as less appropriate given the global nature of today’s Internet.

At the same time, this transition is also about ensuring the stability of the Internet. With that in mind, from the perspective of End Users and network operators, it is likely that nothing much will change if and when the transition take place. IANA will likely continue to function as it always has — this is really about restructuring the oversight mechanisms that function in the background.  

2. How did the Internet community handle this development or event?

While this transition will likely have little operational impact “on the ground", the IANA stewardship transition nevertheless has implications for a range of different communities and stakeholders. Network operators, governments, domain registrars, civil society, the technical community and other groups have all voiced their opinions through a number of different forums. More practically, the RIPE community has participated through the RIPE Cooperation Working Group — both at RIPE Meetings and on mailing list discussions. This has helped identify the key principles and priorities of the RIPE community in this transition process, and this will inform the development of the global, multistakeholder solution.

This work of combining the output of all five RIR community discussions is being done by the Consolidated RIR IANA Stewardship Proposal (CRISP) team. This team is made up of one RIR staff and two community members from each of the five RIR regions.

The RIPE NCC is working to ensure that the Internet community remains informed at all stages of this process. 

3. What are the expectations for 2015?

In 2014, there were a number of announcements from the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) relating to various IPv4 exhaustion milestones being reached (the RIPE NCC reached our last /8 block of addresses in 2012). Now it’s only AFRINIC, the RIR for Africa, that has a sizeable free pool of remaining IPv4 addresses. In the coming year we might see more people getting serious about deploying IPv6, as networks will increasingly have to make hard choices between costly carrier-grade NAT deployments or actually buying IPv4 addresses on the transfer market. Eventually we will reach a point where decision makers at the management level look at these costs and start to see IPv6 as a logical next step.

One of the statistics that is commonly used as an indicator of deployment levels is the number of users accessing Google over IPv6 . As of December 2014, that number stands at around 5% worldwide. While this is still quite low, the rate of increase is encouraging — it was barely past 1% at the beginning of 2013! In 2015 we hope to see this increase continue as network operators around the world move forward with their IPv6 deployments.

Our New Years wish is that network operators get serious about deploying IPv6! The RIPE NCC offers training courses, webinars and online resources to help organisations with their IPv6 deployments. You can look on our website to find out more. And my personal wish is that you have an enjoyable and prosperous 2015!

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About the author

Axel Pawlik was the Managing Director of the RIPE Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC). He served in this position from 1999 to 2019, overseeing the RIPE NCC’s growth to an organisation of more than 10,000 members, including Internet Service Providers, enterprise organisations, academic institutions and others. Axel graduated from the University of Dortmund, Germany, with a Masters Degree in Computer Science. He was later employed at the University of Dortmund from 1985 to 1992, where he contributed to the establishment of UNIX networking as a publicly available service in Germany. Understanding the demand for a commercial operation to provide Internet services, Axel founded EUnet Deutschland GmbH in 1992 and commercialised the operation. Under his leadership, EUnet Deutschland GmbH became the market leader in Germany and one of the strongest EUnet networks in Europe.

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