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An attempt to define 'IPv6-capable'

The IPv6 Summit and Juniper Networks today issued a report that tries to get to the heart of an intriguing question facing agencies that must transition their networks to Internet Protocol version 6 in the coming years.

That question is, "If we're supposed to be buying IPv6-capable networking equipment, what exactly does it mean to be 'IPv6-capable?'"

As the report puts it, "The Office of Management and Budget and the Office of the Secretary of Defense have developed high-level definitions of what IPv6 Capable means; however, it is not clear how these definitions translate into specific requirements or capabilities that government officials can include in their contracting language."

The report, "IPv6 Capable-A Guide for Federal Agencies," spends a bit of time re-hashing IP history (and even answers that other intriguing question, "What ever happened to IPv5?"). And yes, it is prepared in large part by a company that would like no better than to sell you some IPv6 gear.

But the latter half of the report is very detailed, especially in describing the various Requests for Comments that are making their way through The Internet Engineering Task Force. The RFCs become Internet standards and interested government agencies can give feedback during the process to ensure IPv6 capabilities match needs. If nothing else, the report pulls together DOD and OMB IPv6 requirements, plus their "IPv6-capable" definitions, in one place.

It's the position of the writers that there is no single definition of IPv6-capable that fits every agency. And in places it appears industry is as confused about what agencies need in order to meet IPv6 milestones as some agencies surely are. Since there currently is no list of federally approved IPv6-capable products, this is an important conversation to have.

Posted by Brad Grimes

Posted by Brad Grimes, Joab Jackson on May 15, 2006 at 9:39 AM


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