OMB insistent on IPv6

Transition Planning for Internet Protocol Version 6

Federal agencies must migrate to the next generation of IP by June 2008, according to the latest memo from Karen Evans, the Office of Management and Budget’s administrator of e-government and information technology.

In an August 2 memo to CIOs, the federal IT chief outlined a transition strategy for agencies to follow. The first requirement is a Nov. 15 deadline for agency chief information officers to appoint a lead official to coordinate the switch to IP version 6. By then, agencies must complete an inventory of their routers, switches and hardware firewalls, begun an inventory of all other existing IP devices, and started an impact analysis of the transition.

The Architecture and Infrastructure Committee of the Chief Information Officers Council will release additional transition guidance by mid-November, the memo states.

Worldwide, IPv6 is already replacing current standard IPv4 as the Internet address protocol of choice. Inside government, only the Defense Department has made significant strides toward adoption so far.

By June 30, 2008, all federal Internet infrastructure must be IPv6 compatible, meaning that agencies have the option of operating dual stack networks that simultaneously support both IPv4 and IPv6.

IPv6 will correct the previously unforeseeable problem of greater demand than supply of IPv4 addresses. Under IPv4, networked devices are assigned a 32-bit address, which limits the number of possible addresses to 4.3 billion. IPv6, however, operates on a 128-bit address standard, which provides 340 trillion, trillion, trillion, or 340 undecillion, possible addresses.

Widespread adoption of network address translation, a process that allows organizations to assign a single address to an entire internal network and use a translator for individual devices, has slowed adoption of IPv6. Network address translation has the severe drawback of destroying the end-to-end connectivity property of the Internet, however.

IPv6 also includes IP Security within it, which provides data security at the network rather than at the application layer.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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