Security, funding concerns slow IPv6 transition

Countries worldwide are implementing IPv6, yet security and funding concerns have slowed the transition's pace in the U.S. government.

Many information technology community leaders are concerned about the transition to IPv6 from IPv4, which has been the standard to date. Although IPv6 offers many new opportunities, Cyber Security Industry Alliance executive director Paul Kurtz said this is the first time such a major IP transition has been implemented.

'There are no lessons learned from the last transition,' he said at the IPv6 Summit in Reston, Va., Dec. 8.

Agencies are also concerned about the prospect of securing co-existing IPv4 and IPv6 networks during the transitional period, he added.

At the forum, Juniper Networks released a draft of its white paper, "The IPv6 Best Practices World Report Series," which is designed to be a guide for agencies in the early stages of the transition. The document is the first in a series regarding best practices in the transition. It advises agencies to plan early and buy IPv6-capable equipment before the transition is complete.

Because the Office of Management and Budget and the Defense Department are mandating that agencies migrate to IPv6 by June 2008, the Juniper report urges a centralized approach to avoid interoperability issues that might arise with a more fragmented effort.

Mark Evans, an IPv6 transition leader at the Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, said some are cautious about the transition because of concerns about the stability of IPv6 technologies. Some agencies are simply waiting until the technology becomes more mature, Evans said. Time is running out for them to meet the 2008 deadline, however, and Congress has not appropriated funding for the change.

IPv6 advocates should catch the attention of lawmakers, most of whom are not IT-savvy, by couching the issue in the context of security concerns and leadership in technology, said Chas Phillips, policy counsel for the House Government Reform Committee.

IPv6 will expand the universe of IP addresses by a number so big it seems almost infinite. Under IPv4, networked devices are limited to 4.3 billion possible addresses. IPv6, however, provides 340 trillion, trillion, trillion addresses.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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