Defense prepares for IPv6

The Defense Department today announced a contract has been awarded to SI International to support the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) in defining and establishing the procedures for the eventual transition of DOD to Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6).

The contract, worth almost $3 million over two years, calls for SI to provide consulting services to determine how DOD should go about its IPv6 conversion.

Following the commercial information technology industry's push to the IPv6 standard, former Defense chief information officer John Stenbit signed a policy memorandum last June that outlines DOD's transition to the new protocol by 2008. That year was chosen because most experts estimate that widespread commercial adoption will take place from 2005 to 2007. The transition won't take place for another four years, but Stenbit mandated that all technology purchased by DOD or one of the services must be IPv6 compatible starting last October.

IPv4 allows for 4.3 billion IP addresses, which is not enough for all the computers, wireless phones Global Positioning Systems and other devices with IP addresses. IPv6 increases the total number of potential addresses by such a degree that it allows for every cell in every human being on Earth to have 1 trillion IP addresses, according to Eric Mantion, a senior analyst at In-Stat/MDR in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Implementation of the next-generation IP will assist DOD in securing and connecting all essential military assets around the world and on the battlefield, officials said. Using IPv6, every single weapon, helmet, soldier and vehicle can have its own IP address and be uniquely digitally identified.

As its first deliverable to DISA, SI officials recommended an Internet addressing strategy to accommodate the massive increase in IP addresses needed to Web-enable the military. To expand its network-centric capabilities, DOD is transitioning its communications, command, and control (C3) infrastructure to integrated IP-based systems.

According to a statement issued by SI, the company will assist the newly established DOD IPv6 Transition Office in its primary roles including:

* Rationalize the requirements for IPv6 across the armed services.

* Evaluate candidate network components and architectures.

* Test and establish standards to assure flexibility, security and interoperability needed in the next-generation military theater.

* Advise practical steps associated with transitioning systems to IPv6.

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