Test bed, task force will promote IPv6

Six military sites have connected to the nation's largest native IPv6 network, which will serve as a test bed for the usability of Internet Protocol Version 6.

Maj. Roswell Dixon of the Army's Joint Interoperability Test Command at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., said the project was 'groundbreaking for the Defense Department's move to IPv6. This is the first time we've had representation from all the services' in a test of the new protocols.

The network, named Moonv6, is a collaborative effort by JITC, the North American IPv6 Task Force and the University of New Hampshire's Interoperability Laboratory. Moonv6 has been in the planning stages for about six months, and the first phase is now complete; a second phase will begin in February. Much of the multimillion-dollar cost has been covered by in-kind contributions from participants.

The Internet's current IPv4 protocols that define computer communications have never been very secure, and IPv4 address space is rapidly being exhausted, requiring administrators to find workarounds to connect new devices.

IPv6 has much larger address space, better security and other operational advantages. North America, which has about 70 percent of the available address space, has lagged behind Asia and Europe in using the new protocol. Moonv6's proponents hope to spur adoption with real-world deployment experience and to maintain a permanent test bed for vendors' applications.

DOD in June announced IPv6 will become a departmental standard over the next four years. Earlier this month it named the Defense Research and Engineering Network and the Defense Information Systems Network Leading Edge Services to lead the transition (Click for Oct. 14 GCN coverage)

Also, the Commerce Department this week announced a federal interagency task force to examine IPv6's benefits and costs to government and the commercial sector. The task force, mandated by the National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace, will be led by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology in cooperation with the Homeland Security Department and other agencies. The task force will soon release a request for public comment on IPv6.

Earlier IPv6 test beds, such as the worldwide 6bone, have tunneled IPv6 traffic over IPv4 networks. Moonv6's developers say theirs is the largest native IPv6 network. It has 80 servers and extends to eight military, academic and commercial sites from New Hampshire to San Diego.

Military sites connected to Moonv6 are Fort Huachuca, the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command West in San Diego, SPAWAR East in Charleston, S.C., Scott Air Force Base, Ill., Fort Monmouth, N.J. and the Marine Corps Network Security Operations Center at Quantico, Va.

Dixon said DOD plans to use Moonv6 in interoperability communications exercises next year with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The network also could test tactical applications for U.S. forces in Iraq.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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