McManus: Opportunities lie beyond IPv6 deadline

John McManus, chief information officer and chief technology officer at the Commerce Department, said in a speech today that agencies looking at meeting the mandated 2008 IPv6 deadline as the end are missing the context of the transition.

The evolution of building a fully IPv6-capable network system is as much about having an IPv6-ready network backbone by June 2008 as about looking for opportunities beyond that date, said McManus, co-chairman of the Federal IPv6 Transition Working Group.

“There are a lot of folks who think that [after the deadline] we are going to have a big party,” he said. “There’s going to be a parade that’s going to go down Pennsylvania Avenue.” That’s not the case, he added.

The changeover is not about the protocol or telling people that IPv6 offers an almost unlimited number of IP address, he said. It’s about what the protocol enables.

He said, for example, the Transportation Department may use the technology to get better information on traffic flow and real-time information. He also said attaching sensors to pigeons may help to assess environmental activities and changes.

In a separate speech today, Stephen Oronte, senior director for network-centric solutions at Command Information, an IPv6 consulting firm, said agencies need to forget the mandate and figure out how the change affects their business operations.

In August 2005, the Office of Management and Budget issued a memo requiring all departments to make their networks’ backbones IPv6-ready by June 30, 2008. Agencies have already submitted to OMB transition plans and information technology inventories.

To declare victory in June, though, McManus suggested agency officials finish testing their systems by March 2008. He said he believes there are penalties, possibly affecting funding, for missing the deadline.

He based his assumption on OMB’s emphasis on the quarterly Executive Branch Management Score Card, which rates agencies on their success in carrying out the President’s Management Agenda, OMB’s collaboration with the inspector general community and actions against agencies for failing on other initiatives, such as the privacy information initiative.

Nevertheless, McManus said he predicts most agencies will meet the deadline, although some may not because they consider it unimportant.

Agencies that are ahead of the game view the transition as a part of their normal network evolution, he said.

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