Enroute to IPv6, DOD to help define standards

Enroute to IPv6, DOD to help define standards

All the Defense Department's IT acquisitions are supposed to work with IPv6 in preparation for the 2008 migration to the new version of the Internet protocols. Therefore the first thing the department's IPv6 Transition Office has to do is decide what it means to be IPv6 capable and help define the standards for implementing the protocols, Transition Office staffers said Thursday at the U.S. IPv6 Summit in Reston, Va.

The office is currently defining the technical requirements for various categories of hardware and software products, said Alan Sekelsky of SI International Inc., Reston, Va., which has a support contract for the office.

The Transition Office's Victoria Fineberg is heading up the effort to help define the evolving standards for IPv6. Although proponents say the new protocols, which have been in the works since the 1990s, are ready for adoption, the standards that define how implementation will work are still under development.

DOD wants to ensure that its needs are addressed as standards evolve so that they will be included in commercial releases of IT equipment and software.

'The standards are the most exciting part,' Fineberg said. 'It is where the system is made or broken. That is where history is made.'

Developing standards is also a daunting task. The Transition Office is working primarily with the Internet Engineering Task Force. But IETF is just one of more than half a dozen standards-writing bodies, and it has 271 working groups addressing standards for IPv6.

The office is focusing on a handful of key areas, Fineberg said. They include base standards, transition mechanisms, network management, operations, control plane, mobility test and management, applications and services, and security.

'Security is our biggest one,' Fineberg said.

To help smooth the transition to the new protocols, DOD wants industry to begin adopting IPv6 in its own networks. According to Charles Lynch, director of the Transition Office and an evangelist for IPv6, DOD will not be able to get the products it needs and realize the full potential of networking under the new protocols until the private sector is on board the IPv6 train and moving ahead with its own deployment.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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