Alert is issued on IPv6

Alert is issued on IPv6

IPv6 will affect both NIPRnet and SIPRnet, Capt. Bill Garland says.

Transition needed for NGI will be costly, feds are told

By Susan M. Menke

GCN Staff

If managers of government Web sites want to retain transparent connections with the public Internet, they had better start worrying about IP Version 6 readiness, said keynoter Steve Deering of Cisco Systems Inc. at last month's Next Generation Internet conference.

The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command's Systems Center and the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association hosted the conference in Charleston, S.C.

Deering, co-chairman of the Internet Engineering Task Force's IP Next-generation Working Group, said the 4.2 billion possible addresses of the current 32-bit IP Version 4 are tapped out, forcing workarounds such as network address translation [GCN, June 28, Page 46]. The IETF's draft 128-bit IPv6 standard has many times that number of possible addresses'3 followed by 39 zeros.

'We're just fixing the plumbing,' Deering said at the conference, attended by 42 vendors and 400 visitors from U.S. and British military services and the State and Justice departments.

The transition promises to be long and hard'up to 10 times costlier than the year 2000 transition, predicted Michael P. Brig, NGI program manager at SPAWAR in Charleston.

But the change is essential to letting NGI support multimedia, secure electronic commerce and mobile communications, he said.'' Router vendors that already support IPv6 in their products, Brig said, include Bay Networks Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif.; Hitachi Telecom USA Inc. of Norcross, Ga.; Packet Engines Inc. of Spokane, Wash.; Telebit Communications A/S of Denmark; and 3Com Corp. of Santa Clara.

Brig said other router vendors have prototypes under way.

IPv6-ready operating systems include IBM AIX 4.3 and OS/390, Compaq Tru64 Unix, the Linux 2.2 kernel and UnixWare 7 from Santa Cruz Operation Inc. of Santa Cruz, Calif., plus an IPv6 stack for Microsoft Windows 9x from FTP Software Inc. of Andover, Mass. Again, Brig said, many other vendors are readying their OSes and Web software applications.

He said the two protocols already coexist in IPv6-over-IPv4 tunnels on about 200 test networks worldwide. A decade from now, some IPv4 traffic probably will still survive in the same way that aged computers still serve their users, he said.

The status of IPv6 testing and debugging appears on several Web sites, at,,,, and

For government agencies, Brig said, the first step is to obtain IPv6 address allocations. Regional IP address registries such as the American Registry for Internet Numbers began giving them out in July. Brig said the Energy Department's Energy Sciences Network already has reserved a block of addresses.

According to Deering, privacy concerns recently raised about unique serial numbers appearing in IPv6 addresses are unfounded because Web and e-mail communications from IPv6 devices do not have to contain serial numbers. They can have random numbers instead.

The onset of IPv6 traffic will affect both the Defense Department's Non-Classified IP Router Network and its Secret IP Router Network, Capt. Bill Garland of the Atlantic Surface Fleet Commander's Office told conference attendees. Ships without SIPRnet connectivity are virtually excluded from planning or decision-making and are denied the best intelligence, Garland said.

The Charleston conference will have a follow-on in six months to a year, said Bill Sanders, president of the local AFCEA chapter. For more information, contact or

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