A group of internet engineers and technical staff is helping the Middle East to prepare for new internet technology Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A group of internet engineers and technical staff is helping the Middle East to prepare for new internet technology that will ensure there is enough room for millions more internet addresses as the region's virtual world expands.

After laying the original groundwork in Dubai to form the Middle East Network Operators' Group (Menog), the group has hosted a series of regional forums since 2007 to help government and network operators grasp the latest trends in technology.

One of the big challenges looming is that the number of internet addresses is running out of space under the older IPv4 internet protocol, which allows for about 4 billion websites and other devices. IPv6 will allow for approximately 340 undecillion (which is a 34 followed by 35 zeros) addresses. Menog is trying to educate professionals on the best way to handle the seismic shift to a bigger proverbial house with ample room for the future.

The group said in a statement that "with the pool of unassigned IPv4 addresses estimated to run out next year, the time for organisations to act is now."

Osama I. Al Dossary, Chairman of Menog's coordination committee, said his group is acting now to head off a point where IPv4 is exhausted and is working closely with RIPE NCC, the Regional Internet Registry for Europe, Middle East and parts of Central Asia.

Call to action

"It's definitely a big issue. And there are potentially dire consequences if action is not taken. Luckily we are seeing many organisations taking the needed action, and service providers who are actively encouraging their customers to utilise their IPv6 offering," Al Dossary told Gulf News.

"We still have a long way to go, and that it is why IPv6 is a primary topic in all our meetings. Additionally, for the past three meetings we have had full hands-on training workshops on IPv6, and we will continue to do so for the foreseeable future."

To give engineers and technical internet professionals a ground-up grasp of IPv6, Al Dosary said that his group is using its regularly scheduled Menog meetings to what he called a parallel initiative.

Dubbed the IPv6 Roadshow, Menog members are taking training sessions and workshops to destinations across the Middle East to help spread the word of the new internet protocol.

The last IPv6 Roadshow series of workshops was held in Istanbul, Turkey, in October.

Menog is gearing up for four more IPv6 Roadshow events in the near future in Dubai, Amman, Damascus and Tehran.

The workshops will run from three to five days.

"Basically it's the IPv6 hands-on workshop [that hands out] IPv6 assignments on the spot, so students leave ready to configure their network with IPv6, and immediately connect to the internet," Al Dossary said.

With continued hard work and a sense of community, Al Dosary said more doors will open in the internet world in the region, creating more opportunity for both small and medium businesses.

"What I would like to see accomplished in the upcoming years is more open dialogue and discussion in the Menog community, especially from the larger operators," he said.

Menog, meanwhile, has confirmed dates for its Menog 8 conference in Damascus for May 15 to 23 and Menog 9 conference in Muscat from September 27 to October 8.

The conferences are key, Menog said, to "identify areas for regional cooperation".