IPv6: Where's the return on investment?

ORLANDO, Fla. — Officials in federal agencies who are concerned about the mandated transition to Internet Protocol Version 6 are asking the question: Where’s the return on investment?

There is no immediate return, Dan Matthews, vice president of government relations at Lockheed Martin, said today at the Information Processing Interagency Conference 2006 in Orlando, Fla. But he said driving cars instead of riding horses brought no immediate return either.

“The rest of the world is blowing by us,” said Matthews, who moderated a panel discussing the transition to IPv6 from the current IPv4 infrastructure.

Last year, the Office of Management and Budget established a June 2008 deadline for departments and agencies to be ready for IPv6. Matthews, former chief information officer at the Transportation Department and former vice chairman of the CIO Council, said he pushed for a deadline three years away.

Agency frustration stems from OMB’s verdict: Agencies don't need any new money to finish the daunting project.

“The fact of the matter is that we don’t need new money,” Matthews said. He echoed OMB officials' comments last year calling IPv6 a technology refresh.

Agencies will have to adapt and reallocate funds. Karen Evans, OMB’s administrator of e-government and information technology, said Monday in her IPIC 2006 keynote address that OMB wants efficiency along with good performance from agencies' programs. The money agencies save through efficiency, she said, could be shifted to such mandates.

Panelist Thomas Kreidler, vice president of Juniper Federal Systems at Juniper Network, said other countries are “substantially farther along than we are.” He said Asia received 9 percent of IP addresses while it represents half of the world’s population. Asian countries' infrastructures were less developed than the United States’, and so their transition is necessary. Now they, as well as Western Europe, are installing the best and latest infrastructures.

“We are responsible for moving ourselves forward,” Matthews said.

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