A Higher Education Goldmine

by Leo Bicknell

Many higher education institutions received their IPv4 address space when the available space seemed nearly infinite.  Today that IPv4 space can be worth a substantial amount of money.  IPv4.Global has experience developing Financial Strategies for Universities with Surplus IPv4 Addresses.  University CTOs and administrators are often surprised to learn How Education Institution Sell Unused IPv4 Addresses for Millions.

Read on to learn some of the history, and the process to unlock this hidden value.

Class B

From 1983 until approximately 1993 the IPv4 space was allocated in classes.  There were effectively three sizes of address space, small (Class C or /24; 256 addresses), medium (Class B or /16; 65,536 addresses) and large (Class A or /8; 16,777,216 addresses).  Most higher education institutions were clearly larger than the small size, so they were allocated a Class B. 

Eventually CIDR addressing was put in place to delay the predicted runout of IPv4 space and to allocate more appropriately sized blocks.  This technology also allowed institutions to use their allocations more frugally than before.  Adding NAT technologies could allow the university to only need a very small amount of IP address space, perhaps a /22 (1,024 addresses).

Unlocking Value of Your IPv4 Addresses

The process to unlock the value in an institution’s IPv4 space will be unique to each situation.  IPv4.Global can tailor its approach to each institution to specifically meet their needs.  There are some common elements seen with all institutions.

  • Proper Inventory
  • Preparing Address Space for a Sale
  • Finding an Address Broker
  • Navigating the Transfer Process

Most importantly, these steps need to happen without disrupting the educational mission of the institution.  IPv4.Global has the experience necessary to guide this process so that students, faculty, staff, and administrators see no interruption in their service.

Proper Inventory of IPv4 Assets

To access the usage and value of IPv4 assets a proper inventory is required.  Some institutions have detailed records, often in the form of IPAM (IP Address Management) systems like Solarwinds, Infoblox or BlueCat.  Some institutions have incomplete historical records and may not have a usable inventory.  Even with detailed records it can be prudent to verify that the deployed network matches the documentation.

IPv4.Global’s ReView tool uses network scanning techniques to discover all the address space in use in the organization.  This can serve as an audit of the existing IPAM data or provide brand new insight for institutions that have lost historical records.

In addition to inventorying the IPv4 address space, it is also important to inventory the network equipment.  Existing equipment may be reconfigured for NAT or IPv6, and it is important to ensure the hardware and software are capable of their tasks.

The ReView tool is a local tool that runs on your network, no information is sent to the Cloud or IPv4.Global.  Best of all, this resource is free (registration required)!

Preparing for a Sale

Most institutions will have to do some amount of renumbering to maximize the value.  Typically this involves determining if a particular use needs a public or a private IP address, and then consolidating network addresses for things that do need public IP addresses.  An action plan can be created to efficiently complete the engineering and deployments necessary.

While many institutions’ existing staff can implement the action plan there should be a review if that is the best use of their time.  IPv4.Global can provide consulting services for part or all the work allowing the existing staff to keep other initiatives on track.

An important, often overlooked step in the preparation is to check the reputation of the IPv4 address space and clean up any entries on Reputation Block Lists (RBLs).  This step is particularly crucial if the IPv4 space has been used for student access.  Buyers of IP address space will check if the space is listed on blocklists, reducing their bids if the space needs to be cleaned up. IPv4.GLOBAL can provide a report from major RBLs for an institution’s addresses, and supporting clean up negative information.

The deployment of IPv6 might also be a key element to freeing up IPv4 address space.  IPv6 is operational across the Internet today.  An institution with a mature IPv6 deployment may be able to move internal services to IPv6, knowing that all users are on IPv6 capable networks.  If an institution has not fully deployed IPv6 part of the action plan can be completing the deployment.

A typical action plan would have the following steps:

  • Determining if any new equipment is necessary.  The decision to deploy NAT may require purchasing NAT devices, while the deployment of IPv6 might require upgrading hardware or software.
  • Deploy and configure new devices.
  • Renumbering hosts to new IP addresses, which may entail:
    • Relocating the host virtually to new VLANs, or physically to new devices.
    • Reconfiguring the host for new IPv4 and/or IPv6 addresses.
    • Updating DNS entires.
    • Updating Firewall configurations.
    • Updating application specific configurations, such as clustering configurations.
  • Migrate subnets to new NAT and/or IPv6 configurations one at a time.  Depending on the subnet usage this may entail:
    • Updating Firewall configurations.
    • Reconfiguring routers and switches.
    • Configuring NAT devices.
    • Updating DHCP scopes.
    • Updating DNS entries.
    • Updating Network Management Systems (NMS).
    • Reconfiguration of Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) software
  • Scanning and logging to be sure the old address space has been properly vacated.
  • Removing configurations for the old address space from:
    • Routers & Switches
    • NAT Devices
    • Firewalls
    • NMS Systems
    • SIEM Systems
  • Checking Blocklists to see if any list the address space, and then following procedures for that Blocklist to clean up the address space.
  • Engaging a broker to list the IPv4 address space as available for sale.
  • Completing the transfer process.

IPv4 Address Brokers

What is an IPv4 Broker and Why Are They important?  A broker acts as the essential lubricant for the frictional market, greatly streamlining the previously-cumbersome process of pairing buyers and sellers together. There is no requirement to use a broker but navigating the process without one can be daunting and error prone.  Brokers can serve to protect your interests, including getting top dollar for the address space.

A top broker will provide reliable and transparent information and services. Ideally, they’ll be able to facilitate transactions of various IPv4 block sizes, ranging from smaller online transactions to much larger private transactions.

IPv4.Global is an experience broker that knows what The Best IPv4 Brokers should do for their clients.  Knowledgeable in IPv4 Address Prices & Pricing to balance getting top dollar with selling in a reasonable timeframe.  IPv4.Global also offers a multi-tiered platform in addition to private brokerage services.
The Transfer Process

IP address space is managed by five regional RIRs (Regional Internet Registries).  While ARIN (American Registry for Internet Numbers) is the most well known in North America, when IP space is transferred it may involve one of the other RIRs depending on the location of the buyer and seller.  Each RIR has its own rules for how these transfers must be processed.

IPv4.Global is an ARIN Qualified Facilitator, a trusted intermediary for this process.  During the process IPv4.Global will assist in verifying the Chain of Title of the IP space.  This critical work provides assurance that the transfer will meet all the rules and requirements of the RIRs and be processed quickly for both buyer and seller.

Case Studies

IPv4.Global has already helped multiple higher education institutions complete this process.  Lewis & Clark College identified the address space, took steps to monetize its inventory of IPv4, including moving multiple services behind a NAT, and eventually was able to sell some of their IPv4 space via IPv4.Global’s IP Marketplace.

IPv.4 Global also helped Hartwick College with a similar process.  In this case IPv4.Global was able to provide a tailored financial package to help the college renumber and realize the benefits of their holdings.