OMB: No new money for IPv6

Federal agencies have all the money they need to make a mandatory transition to the next generation of internet protocol, said a top Office of Management and Budget official today.

'The good news, you have all the money you need. It is a technology refresh,' said Glenn Schlarman, information policy branch chief in OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Schlarman spoke at a Potomac Forum event on Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6). "You have to adapt, reallocate," he added.

Agencies have until the middle of 2008 to becomeIPv6 compatible, under the requirements of an August 2 OMB memo. 'We're talking about the foundational elements, the foundational backbone, Schlarman said. Agencies have the option of operating dual stack networks that simultaneously support both the current protocol as well as IPv6.

But, agencies that don't have in place a routine technology refresh cycle will encounter some problems, Schlarman said. Agencies that have routinely updated their technology infrastructure will find that they are much closer than they perhaps realize to IPv6 compatibility, he added.

OMB will also begin using its agency enterprise architecture framework to assess agency IPv6 efforts. 'This is part of your architecture, and your architecture isn't just the technology; it's what we do, why we do it, and how we can improve what we can do,' Schlarman added. Dick Burk, head of the Federal Enterprise Architecture Program Office, will act as a watchdog over the transition process, he said.

A worldwide trend of adopting IPv6 makes adoption of the next generation internet protocol necessary sooner rather than later, he added. IPv6 doesn't merely replace the current internet protocol, but presents still unknown new possibilities. 'We can't predict what they will be,' he said, but the government has to ready itself.

Competition from abroad to adopt IPv6 is also a spur for adoption, Schlarman said. The European Union, Japan and China are just some of the entities with taxpayer funds dedicated to building IPv6 networks.

'Of course, in the United States, typically, historically, we want the market itself to determine what we need,' Schlarman said. In this case of IPv6, 'we can best lead by example and act as a catalyst,' he added. The planned 2008 deadline for government adoption of IPv6 will help create a market for products and services that take advantage of those new possibilities, Schlarman said.

Immediately, however, IPv6 brings with it improved data routing, integrated security at the protocol level, and self-configuring networks that in turn allow for much greater mobility. In addition, IPv6 solves the limited address space problem, providing 28 orders of magnitude more IP addresses ' 340 undecillion total, as opposed to 4.3 billion possible addresses generated by today's protocol.

About the Author

David Perera is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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