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Microsoft Azure Service Affected by IPv4 Address Shortage

The worldwide IPv4 address shortage has affected some U.S.-based Azure customers, Microsoft indicated this week.

The issue becomes apparent for end users when accessing a Web page expected to be housed on a Microsoft Azure datacenter located in the United States. Instead, those users get redirected to a URL registered outside the United States.

"Some Azure customers may have noticed that for a VM [virtual machine] deployed in a US region, when they launch a localized page on a web browser it may redirect them to an international site," Microsoft explained, in a Wednesday announcement.

The announcement initially had stated that all of the IPv4 addresses had been assigned in the United States, but it was later updated to explain that Microsoft still has access to U.S. addresses. It's just that some U.S. Azure customers got assigned non-U.S. IPv4 addresses "as a result of limited inventory," Microsoft explained.

Microsoft and other service providers have to use the addresses available from a global pool for their new U.S. customers. IP addresses are assigned by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and it's "not possible to transfer registration," according to Microsoft's announcement. Despite that limitation, Microsoft is working with database companies to address the potential confusion.

"We are currently working with a few major IP geo-location database companies to update the location of these IPs which should help alleviate the issues this may be causing," the announcement explained.

Location of data is a big deal for European Union-based companies, which have legal requirements for storing data locally. It's less of a requirement for U.S.-based companies. In the case of the IPv4 addresses and the Microsoft Azure service, where the IP address got assigned does not reflect where the data are stored.

"When you deploy to a U.S. [Microsoft Azure] region, your service is still hosted in U.S. and your customer data will remain in the U.S. as detailed in our Trust Center," Microsoft's announcement asserted.

On May 20, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which oversees IANA responsibilities, gave notice that the last recovered IPv4 addresses had been distributed to the five Regional Internet Registries. That event signaled a critical shortage of IPv4 addresses for use with new services. Internet authorities have long warned of the coming IPv4 address shortage, but Internet service providers and equipment makers have been slow to make the changeover to the current IPv6 standard.

IPv6 uses a 128-bit scheme that will support about "340 trillion trillion trillion" IP addresses, it's estimated. In contrast, the 32-bit IPv4 approach is estimated to support just 4 billion IP addresses.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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