Initial test specs for government IPv6 compliance released for public comment

Government networking acquisitions must be Government IPv6 test program-compliant by July

The first test specifications for IPv6 compliance, which will be required for government networking procurements beginning next July, have been released for public comment by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

After a 30-day public comment period, NIST expects to publish by the end of the year the revised test suites that make up the initial test program.

“At that point, the USGv6 Test Program will be operational such that accreditors, laboratories and vendors may begin working together to generate accredited test results,” NIST said.

Because of the depletion of the current generation of IPv4 addresses and the growth of mobile computing and peer-to-peer applications, the government is leading a move in this country to the next generation of Internet Protocols, IPv6. Government backbones have been readied for IPv6 traffic and, by July 2010, all network devices containing and IP stack will have to meet IPv6 requirements now being specified by NIST under the USGv6 program.

NIST is developing the USGv6 profile, as well as requirements for accrediting independent testing labs that will certify products to these requirements. NIST has working with the University of New Hampshire's InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) to develop the test specifications that the labs will use. UNH-IOL is an industry-funded independent testing lab.

The USGv6 Testing Program operational documents, tests and general information are available at the project Web site. The site also contains a template for submitting comments, which should be sent to [email protected] by Nov. 15.

There are two areas of USGv6 compliance: conformance with the specifications in the NIST profile and interoperability with other vendors’ products. Conformance testing can be done by vendors in-house if they have the proper accreditation. Interoperability testing will have to be done by a third-party lab.

Test specifications being released for comment define USGv6 compliance and test methods used by test labs must be traceable to the specs.

The test program is intended to create an open, flexible testing infrastructure that leverages existing industry efforts while protecting early investments in IPv6 technologies by agencies. One of the goals of the compliance program is to harmonize the USGv6 profile with other test programs, including the IPv6 Forum’s IPv6 Ready Logo. The IPv6 Ready Logo is also a conformance and interoperability testing program that has become the industry standard. More than 260 products have been approved under phase 2 of the logo program, but the specifications are not as comprehensive as those in USGv6. IPv6 Ready requirements will essentially be a subset of requirements for USGv6.

Several NIST special publications provide assistance with the USGv6 testing program. SP 500-273, “USGv6 Test Methods: General Description and Validation,” includes process for inter-laboratory comparisons along with information on management of the program. Under recent revisions of the publication, accreditors offering laboratory assessment and accreditation programs must notify NIST of their intention to create USGv6 programs in order to be listed on the USGv6 website, and accreditors must notify NIST when test laboratories are accredited, together with the test methods in their scope of accreditation.

Draft SP 500-281, “USGv6 Testing Program User’s Guide” is a new document not yet published that will provide an overview of the testing program and its operation and management. It will include a description of the testing program, an analysis of the life cycles of profiles and tests and their impact on interoperability, and details of the Supplier’s Declaration of Conformity.

NIST will hold annual meetings for the USGv6 Test Program to review and resolve issues with inter-laboratory comparisons, resolve test specification interpretation problems, and review the efficacy of the testing program.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.


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