CIO Council looks to IPv6's future

Now that the initial deadline for agencies to upgrade their Internet backbones to IP Version 6 has passed, the CIO Council is working on guidance for the next phase.

Pete Tseronis, senior technical adviser in the Energy Department's CIO office and chairman of the CIO Council's IPv6 Working Group, said the working group is interested in communicating with industry. He's hoping to have some new guidance out by the end of August, he said today, speaking to a meeting of the American Council for Technology/Industry Advisory Council's IPv6 shared interest group.

The government "could easily come out with a big memo saying ‘do this,’" Tseronis said. "I’d rather it be a discussion with industry to say, ‘What’s realistic?’"

IPv6 is the next-generation IP. It allows a much larger universe of unique IP addresses and stronger security controls than IPv4, the current standard version. Agencies were to upgrade their backbone networks to the new protocol by June 30, but that's only a preliminary step. Now they can begin the harder, but ultimately more rewarding, work of figuring out how to implement IPv6 applications to take advantage of the new capabilities.

It's important that all parts of an agency have the same understanding of their IPv6 goals, Tseronis said. The executive leaders of an agency shouldn't make promises the operations team can't keep.  

The potential of the protocol is tremendous, he said. In the future, many kinds of devices could have IP addresses and communicate via the network. For example, soldiers could have IP-enabled ammunition containers that would send alerts when supplies run low.

Reaching that future requires commitment, he said. “This isn’t about getting a good grade on the president's score card" or complying with an Office of Management and Budget mandate, he said.  

Eventually the whole government will be a native IPv6 environment, Tseronis said.

“Someday we’re going to get to where we need to get to," he said. "The question is how soon.”

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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