What's next for IPv6
Meeting the OMB's IPv6 mandate is relatively easy. Agencies have to prove they can pass IPv6 packets across their backbone networks, and that's possible because most routers support IPv6. However, there is no requirement for agencies to run IPv6 in production mode on their networks or to port their applications to IPv6.
The Bush Administration has no plans to establish additional IPv6-related deadlines. That will be up to the next person who directs OMB's e-government and IT initiatives, Evans says.
In the meantime, OMB will continue to require agencies to discuss IPv6 progress in their annual reports on enterprise architecture.
"Right now, we have agencies focused on segment network architectures that are robust...This information is going to be available so the next person in my position could take advantage of what we've done and make multiple deadlines for other IPv6-related capabilities," Evans said.
Some industry observers say OMB didn't go far enough with its IPv6 mandate, which didn't include deadlines for production-level deployment of the protocol.
"I think the real issue is that we don't have a lot of agencies running dual IPv4/IPv6 stacks. We don't have a lot of people adopting IPv6," says Diana Gowen, senior vice president and general manager of Qwest Government Services, which helped the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Maritime Commission meet the IPv6 deadline. "The next Administration is going to have to worry about how we push IPv6 adoption because IPv4 address space is going to run out, and we do have reasons from a security perspective to do this."
For the next 18 months, the focus on IPv6 in the federal market will be at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which is expected to issue in July Version 1.0 of its Profile for IPv6 in the US Government. This document will detail how IPv6 hardware and software will be procured and deployed in operational government IT systems.
"There's definitely going to be a lot of work going on in IPv6 after June 30," Tseronis says. "We see much more of a collaborative relationship not only in the CIO Council and our IPv6 working group but with industry. We have a two-year program set up with NIST where they are going to work on an IPv6 compliance and interoperability testing program."
Tseronis describes OMB's IPv6 mandate and the June 30 deadline as Mile Marker 1 in a marathon-long transition to IPv6 for federal agencies.
"We've been having this conversation about IPv6 for two years. We've raised the awareness about IPv6," Tseronis says. "If I'm a CIO and I'm supposed to be forward-looking, I'll be looking at my IT refresh budget, I'll be looking at the age of my equipment, and I'll be anticipating IPv6 capabilities out there like security, multicasting and the ability to do more mobile communications. ...That's what I hope agencies are doing."
Tsesronis says the Federal CIO Council's IPv6 Working Group will offer guidance to federal agencies about re-architecting their networks to support IPv6 in dual-stack mode initially and eventually to migrate to native IPv6.
"We need to get some short-term goals for the federal government for the next two years out because IPv6 isn't a one-trick pony and it's done on June 30," Tseronis says. "June 30 is going to be a great day, but now it's about keeping the momentum going."