IPv6 Roadmap reflects progress, frames future

The government updated its IPv6 Transition Roadmap in July, with changes reflecting the progress agencies have made and framing the future, according to one expert.

“While that future state is a work in progress, it's occurring and a viable solution,” said Chris Chroniger, vice chair of the American Council for Technology/Industry Advisory Council’s Networks and Telecommunications Shared Interest Group and head of the IPv6 Working Group.

ACT-IAC worked with the CIO Council to develop the new framework. The guidance assists agency officials in the transition, sharing best practices from industry and agencies on integrating the next-generation Internet within the government.

The updated roadmap focuses on IPv6 as a continuity of operations issue for agencies that provide citizen services or work with external business partners, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

There are two important deadlines for agency officials to heed. By the end of fiscal 2012, all public-facing services should be IPv6 enabled. The National Institute of Science and Technology established a website to track agencies’ progress in meeting the 2012 OMB milestone for public-facing services.

Also, all internal services and devices that leverage outside Internet services need to be IPv6 enabled by end of fiscal 2014.

The government's updated document has the same foundational elements instituted in the original and shows the three years of experience from both the public and private sectors since original publication in 2009. Now the roadmap also shares the government’s IPv6 history and vision, along with its current goals and deadlines.

The guidance includes critical assessments of agencies’ current transition plans. The CIO Council recommends CIOs, IPv6 transition managers, chief enterprise architects and chief acquisition officers check their agency’s progress toward adopting IPv6 as the Internet foundation. The document also details governance, procurement and specific technical considerations.

IPv6 is necessary for the government to remain connected to the Internet as it has become so central to operations in the public and private sectors around the world. One of the underlying reasons for the development of IPv6 was the projected exhaustion of the 4.3 billion IPv4 addresses.

Since the original roadmap was issued in May 2009, the last IPv4 web addresses were handed out in February 2011. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers made the last assignments of addresses to the Regional Internet Registries. In April 2011, Asia Pacific Network Information Center distributed its last block of IPv4 addresses and the European and North American region’s supplies are projected to follow shortly.

As OMB has pushed for the IPv6 transition, the updates demonstrate the current state of the federal IT environment. The transition explains what the administration expects of officials. The new roadmap gives guidance on agency goals and timelines, as well as updates on the business rationale for IPv6 and how it affects other e-government initiatives, such as the Trusted Internet Connection, Chroniger said.

The updated guidance warns though that officials will have to deal with the ripple effects of switching to IPv6. Agencies could potentially lose the ability for telework and also citizen services that require login-in or other external business partners that rely on secure communications with agencies.


About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.


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