Agencies slow in adopting IPv6, survey finds

Less than 4 percent of federal agencies have finished IPv6 implementation and less than 8 percent have completed their transition plans, an independent survey released today found.

Of the 200 defense and civilian agencies’ decision-makers working with IPv6 surveyed, more than a third said their IPv6 implementation will start by the end of fiscal 2007, according to the survey from Cisco Systems.

The Office of Management and Budget set June 2008 as the deadline for agencies to have IPv6 in place.

“Setting this firm date is necessary to maintain focus on this important issue,” Karen Evans said in testimony at a House Government Reform Committee hearing June 29, 2005.

The paradigm shift to IPv6 has begun in the federal government, she also said. IPv6-capable software and hardware exist in agencies’ networks. Most operating systems support IPv6, and many installed routers and switches already have the protocol built in.

But the shift is slow. Planning for system migration, security and undefined privacy concerns are obstacles.

“You are going to encounter problems you’re never going to imagine,” said Dave Nelson, former deputy chief information officer at NASA and a member of the Input Consulting Group.

One of the toughest challenges that agencies face is having no prior experience to guide them through the transition, he said. While agencies shift to IPv6, they can keep IPv4 as a temporary backup system.

Forty-five percent of survey respondents said a lack of time and experienced employees present a large challenge as they work on the shift.

Almost 65 percent said funding and budgets were the top challenge they face.

One reason agencies have been slow to adopt IPv6 is they consider it an IT issue, not a driver of business, the survey found.

“The strong business case of early and rapid implementation has yet to be successfully made,” said Gerald Charles, executive adviser at Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group. “The market focus needs to move from cost and technology issues to business benefits and applications.”

Business and IT viewpoints within agencies differ, according to the survey results. IT decision-makers cited privacy, security and network performance as top concerns, while business decision-makers focused most on continuity of operations, productivity and costumer satisfaction.

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