Tracking the (IPv6) Transition

By Dorothy Ramienski
Internet Editor

The deadline for IPv6 has come and gone.

So, now what?

Agencies are asking — and the Federal IPv6 Working Group has answers.

The chairman of that group is Pete Tseronis.

He’s also a Senior Technical Advisor with the Department of Energy.

On Thursday’s Daily Debrief, he spoke with hosts Christopher Dorobek and Amy Morris about how federal agencies can move forward.

Tseronis says it’s now up to the agencies to deploy secure end-to-end, shared IPv6-enabled services that meet the specific needs of their missions.

We keep talking about Web 2.0 and cloud computing and virtualization and green IT. Well, it’s so dependent on the Internet fabric that the real work of architecting the Internet needs to be done at an agency-by-agency level and assure that there’s continuity between those agencies.

This is where the IPV6 Working Group really comes in handy

So what we’re doing in the working group and doing with industry — and we’re pretty excited about — is coming up with an executive guidance document. It’s a guidance document that will provide practical and actionable guidance on how to successfully integrate V6 into your enterprise.

Tseronis says this particular document should be released within the next couple of weeks.

One of the benefits, he notes, is that it also contains information that can be coordinated with agency enterprise architecture transition strategy, as well as their information sharing and infrastructure segment architecture.

So, there’s a timing as to when we want to release these next steps and what has to be done, but we’re hoping — with collaboration from our industry folks — that this will give agencies that next phase direction.

You don’t have to wait for the document, however. Tseronis says agencies should already be using enterprise architecture in order to comply with OMB’s mandates.

There’s specific language that calls out IPv6 for those enterprise architects in government . . . because they know that they are to provide actionable or concrete plans as to what their agencies are going to be doing. We have established a strategy . . . through the adoption from industry, as well as what the government’s trying to do going forward, and that’s setting up realistic milestones.

Tseronis says those realistic milestones are one of the most important points of the transition from V4 to V6.

It’s not just saying . . . “You must do this,” like we did with our memo that came out in June. It’s specifically saying, “Take the planning aspect of IPv6. You’re already looking to modernize your network to take advantage of Web 2.0 and some of those other applications or tools”. Well, none of that works unless you really architect it behind the walls.

This, Tseronis points out, is why discussions about IPv4 exhaustion shouldn’t be seen as something that can be dealt with years from now.

What agencies should be doing is getting test labs set up, defining their addressing and integration plans, circulating the immediacy of this to the senior level folks so that they don’t think that June 30 came and went.

IPv6 isn’t something that can be bought and installed overnight. Tseronis says it’s a migration that needs to be extensively planned for, which is why test labs and architecture planning are essential.

With all the talk of transition, however, Tseronis does point out that there’s no need for panic.

It’s not something we need to hold our breath [on] like we did with Y2K and say, “Okay, as of this date, we’re good to go.” There are transition strategies in effect — best practices guidance that this document that will be coming out here is going to explain and it’s relationship to of V6 to the other e-government or federal initiatives that are going on.

Tseronis says no one should be treating each IT issue as a silo and that V6 is an enabling technology.

IPv4, as you use it today, the fact that addresses are going to run out, may not mean anything to the average Joe or the consumer, but the reality is, we’ve been using the Internet for purposes and it has evolved over a number of years — that we just rely on this ability to have devices communicate with one another — and that is through the IP address.

Getting different devices to communicate with each other is one thing — but enabling a V4 device to speak with a V6 device is something else. Tseronis says this is where the work is involved and why the move from V4 to V6 is world-wide.

You can google the Korean IT initiative, e-Japan, China’s Next Generation Internet — and they are very advanced in the V6 arena. It’s not doing them any good or us any good by not collaborating with one another so that we can move forward from a global economic perspective.

Tseronis says those interested can expect a comment period on the document to open before the end of this month.

There is an industry accepted estimate that the last IPv4 addresses will be given out by March, 2012.

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