Guidance for demonstrating IPv6 capability

The Federal CIO Council has published guidelines for demonstrating IPv6 capability across agency backbones.

The 'Demonstration Plan to Support Agency IPv6 Compliance' lists the minimum requirements for meeting the June 30 deadline for enabling backbones for the next generation of Internet Protocols, explains the equipment needed and defines the criteria for success in the demonstration.

The Office of Management and Budget in 2005 mandated that civilian agencies enable IPv6 on their core networks by the end of June. The Defense Department had earlier established a requirement that its networks be IPv6 enabled by the same deadline. Although it is left to each agency to decide when and how it will deploy and use IPv6, the CIO Council has established the requirements for complying with the mandate.

As spelled out the by the council in 2006, agencies must demonstrate they can:
  • Transmit IPv6 traffic from the Internet and external peers, through the network backbone (core), to the LAN;
  • Transmit IPv6 traffic from the LAN, through the network backbone (core), out to the Internet and external peers;
  • Transmit IPv6 traffic from the LAN, through the network backbone (core), to another LAN (or another node on the same LAN).

For these demonstrations, the council defined a LAN as desktop or laptop PCs configured to send and receive IPv6 packets and connected to a backbone with IPv6 enabled networking equipment. External networks can belong to another agency, an Internet service provider or another organization capable of transmitting IPv6 traffic.

In preparing for the demonstration, agencies should:
  • Identify its operational core backbone network, based on the definition provided by the CIO Council's IPv6 Working Group: 'For the purposes of the IPv6 transition, the core network (a.k.a. backbone network) is the set of network transport devices (routers, switches) that provide the highest level of traffic aggregation in the network, and thus at the highest level of hierarchy in the network.'
  • Configure IPv6 on all routers and switches in the agency's core network.
  • Identify which external network or networks will be used for the demonstrations and how the Agency's IPv6 core network will connect to them.
  • Develop a diagram of the core network, depicting IPv6 addressing, internal network connectivity and topology, and external network connectivity.

'For agencies that rely upon an ISP for its core backbone network services, it is incumbent upon that ISP to demonstrate compliance to the agency based on the demonstrations described in this document,' the guidelines say.

Components required for the demonstration configurations include two demonstration desktop or laptop computers running an IPv6-capable operating system such as Microsoft Vista, Solaris, Linux, or HP to be the source and destination of the packets, along with associated cabling and hardware. The computers must have ping or a multi-hop ping for IPv6 available, along with Traceroute for IPv6 and the ability to capture screen shots. The agency must be able to diagram the IPv6 core network illustrate the path of IPv6 traffic and demonstrate its successful transmission and reception.

A variety of configurations are possible for IPv6 connectivity between the agency and external networks. These include an IPv6 router and PC on an external network connected linked to the agency with IPv6 service from an ISP, or an IPv6-over-IPv4 Tunnel established between Internet border gateway router in the agency's demonstration network and the router in the external network. If the Internet is not used in the demonstration, a dedicated circuit between the agency's core backbone network and the external network can be used.

The guidelines also contain examples of demonstration scripts for the demonstrations.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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