Federal Agencies Slow To Move On IPv6 Implementation

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Federal agencies have a ways to go before implementing the sixth version of the Internet Protocol (IPv6), according to a survey commissioned by Cisco Systems and conducted by Market Connections. Of the 200 IT decision makers from defense and civilian agencies interviewed, less than 2 percent have completed the IPv6 planning process, and more than one-third will not begin planning or implementation until 2007.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) mandated that all federal agencies' network infrastructures adopt IPv6 by 2008, setting milestones to be met by specific dates:

  • Nov. 15, 2005: Agencies were to assign an official to lead and coordinate agency planning and complete an inventory of existing routers,switches, and hardware firewalls.

  • Feb. 2006: Agencies were to provide a completed IPv6 transition plan to OMB.

  • June 30, 2006: Agencies are to complete inventory of all IP complaint devices and technologies not captured in the first inventory, plus an impact analysis of fiscal and operational impacts and risks.

    According to the survey, however, only 30 percent of respondents had started or completed work toward the inventorying and about the same percentage have assigned an officer to coordinate planning.

    "Government is making progress, but there's a need for education and awareness of what IPv6 can offer," says Randy Hall, marketing manager in Cisco's Product Technology Marketing Operation (PTMO) focused on IPv6. "The vision is on track, but has not been articulated down through the ranks. There's a gap, with IPv6 regarded as more of an IT issue than a business-process issue. Industry and government have to make a stronger effort to fill that gap."

    Top challenges associated with planning and implementation include lack of funding, time and experienced staff. Sixty percent of respondents have yet to receive funding approval for the transition, according to the survey. In addition, less than 10 percent have completed monitoring the benefits.

    As agencies make progress, albeit slowly, they will increasingly look to the channel. While half of the respondents expect to keep transition planning in-house, 42 percent expect to collaborate with industry for implementation, and another 8 percent expect to outsource the implementation completely.

    "The channel will be provided opportunities to validate transition plans, and provide professional implementation and support services," says Ron Schwartz, director of operations for Cisco's federal business.

    To help partners along, Cisco introduced a tool for assessments of all network devices -- regardless of brand -- called IPv6 Network Assessor.

    "The intelligence around IPv6 will be from the network," Schwartz says. "Those carrying network packets will lead the transition. No doubt, there's wonderful opportunity for ongoing onsite engagement."

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