OMB, CIO Council issues new IPv6 guidance

Tuesday - 9/28/2010, 3:50pm EDT

Max Cacas, Reporter, Federal News Radio

Click to hear the report.

Download mp3

By Max Cacas
Reporter
Federal News Radio

The Office of Management and Budget is jumpstarting the transition to IPv6 on agency networks.

OMB, through the federal Chief Information Officers Council, issued guidance Tuesday setting milestones for agencies to be fully compliant with IP version 6, which is an improved technical protocol by which addresses are given to every device on the Internet.

Federal chief information officer Vivek Kundra announced the new memo (pdf or doc) Tuesday at an IPv6 workshop sponsored by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, at the National Press Club in Washington.

Kundra detailed the new deadlines:

  • Agencies must upgrade public facing external servers and services by the end of fiscal 2012.

  • Agencies must upgrade internal client applications and communications infrastructure to IPv6 by the end of 2014.

  • OMB is designating IPv6 managers across the government, who will be led by the IPv6 Task Force, and will focus on migrating to the new protocol.

  • OMB and the CIO Council will make sure that agency procurement of network IT comply with the Federal Acquisition Regulations requirements of use with the USGv6 profile and test program for completeness and quality of IPv6 capabilities.

There's renewed urgency for networks, both in the private and public sector, to move to the IPv6 network protocol because the agencies that administer network addresses around the world say they are a little more than a year away from completely running out of the traditional IPv4 Internet addresses, according to John Curran, president of the American Registry for Internet Numbers, one of a handful of global authorities which administers the remaining IP v4 Internet addresses.

"We're now at 94.5 percent of the addresses in IPv4 that are utilized," Curran said. "We now have a situation where that last 5.5 percent we expect to be allocated among the five regions based on demand by next summer. We expect that there will be no addresses available in the regional registries to give to ISPs (internet service providers) by 2011."

The IPv6 protocol will allow for more than 340 trillion-trillion-trillion IP addresses, which will let a new generation of electronic devices to each have their own network addresses.

Pete Tseronis, associate CIO with the Department of Energy and the chairman of the IPv6 Task Force, said agencies reached OMB's initial IPv6 deadline of June 30, 2008. Agencies had to nominally receive and transmit a packet of IPv6 data on their network. Now, Tseronis said with the new OMB guidance in hand, it's time to revisit where the agencies are on their IPv6 transitions.

"June 30, 2008 was a big deal," he said. "We reached it. I think most people will say it was a check mark. I did pass traffic on a segment of my network that I'm no longer using, and I tested it, and I got credit for it, and green on a scorecard somewhere. We energized the federal government on what's V6 and why we need it."

This time around, Tseronis said, he does not foresee the need to raise awareness through the government on the benefits of IPv6. Instead, he said the role of his task force is to promote the goals of OMB when it comes to the new network protocol.

One agency with a best practices story to share when it comes to IPv6 is the Department of Defense. Ron Broersma, chief engineer with the Defense Research and Engineering Network, outlined how his agency moved much to IPv6 compliance.

"Through smart investments, through tech refresh, and leveraging existing staffing that was interested, and not asking for any new money because there wasn't any, we were able to roll it out over a period of five years," he said.

Broersma added his network within DREN is "100 percent dual stack (meaning it is capable of handling both the old IPv4 and the new IPv6 data streams simultaneously, considered a valid transition strategy for most agency networks), with servers, clients, applications, back-end systems, public facing systems IPv6 enabled for many years."

Tseronis said within the next few weeks, he will begin visiting agencies to assess where they are on the road to IPv6 transition. He said he hopes to also take advantage of the possibility that his IPv6 Task Force might this time be able to take advantage of detailee, and other help and resources, to help determine how agencies are doing with the IPv6 transitions.

(Copyright 2010 by FederalNewsRadio.com. All Rights Reserved.)