OMB: No new money for IPv6

Federal agencies have all the money they need to make a mandatory transition to the next generation of IP, a top OMB official said.

Federal agencies have all the money they need to make a mandatory transition to the next generation of IP, a top Office of Management and Budget official said today.

“The good news, you have all the money you need. [IP Version 6] is a technology refresh,” said Glenn Schlarman, information policy branch chief in OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Schlarman spoke at a Potomac Forum event on IPv6. "You have to adapt, reallocate," he added.

Under the requirements of an Aug. 2 OMB memo, agencies have until the middle of 2008 to become IPv6 compatible.

“We’re talking about the foundational elements, the foundational backbone,” Schlarman said. Agencies have the option of operating networks that simultaneously support the current protocol, IPv4, and IPv6.

But agencies that don’t have a plan to routinely update technology will encounter some problems, Schlarman said. Agencies that do will find that they are much closer than they perhaps realize to IPv6 compatibility, he added.

OMB will also begin using its agency enterprise architecture framework to assess IPv6 efforts. “This is part of your architecture, and your architecture isn’t just the technology; it’s what we do, why we do it and how we can improve what we can do,” Schlarman added. Dick Burk, head of the Federal Enterprise Architecture Program Management Office, will act as a watchdog over the transition process, he said.

Because the adoption of IPv6 is a worldwide trend, agencies must follow suit sooner rather than later, he added. In addition to replacing the current IP, IPv6 presents still unknown new possibilities. “We can’t predict what they will be,” he said, but the government must prepare.

Global competition to adopt IPv6 also spurs change, Schlarman said. For example, the European Union, Japan and China have taxpayer funds dedicated to building IPv6 networks.

“Of course, in the United States, typically, historically, we want the market itself to determine what we need,” Schlarman said. In the case of IPv6, “we can best lead by example and act as a catalyst,” he added. The 2008 deadline for government adoption of IPv6 will help create a market for products and services that take advantage of the technology’s new possibilities, Schlarman said.

IPv6 can already improve data routing, integrate security at the protocol level and self-configure networks, which facilitates greater mobility. In addition, IPv6 solves the limited address space problem, providing 28 orders of magnitude more IP addresses – 340 undecillion total, as opposed to 4.3 billion possible addresses generated by today’s protocol.

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