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IPv6 or no IPv6?

What to make of survey results released today by Cisco Systems and Market Connections? We at GCN were pre-briefed last week and still spent this morning scratching our heads over the significance of the survey of 200 government IT managers regarding their take on IPv6.

It goes without saying that respondents were worried there isn't any money allocated to the task of migrating network backbones to the new Internet protocols by June 2008. Because there isn't. And while Cisco officials last week described how agencies are seemingly behind in planning for and implementing IPv6, the results don't appear to indicate at this time that any agency is in danger of missing the OMB-mandated deadline. (Granted, that could change, and probably will.)

Aaron Heffron, vice president of Market Connections, which conducted the survey on Cisco's behalf, accompanied Cisco to GCN's offices last week and offered this take: "IPv6 is seen as an IT issue, not a business issue." In other words, IT shops are out upgrading networks, but not because they really understand or believe in the benefits to the agency's mission.

According to the survey results, security is the top reason to move to IPv6 (in yet another blow to work-at-home proponents, few seemed to care about how IPv6 could help enable effective teleworking).

By the numbers (and remember, these are shares of respondents, some of whom, not surprisingly, had no idea what their agencies were doing with IPv6):

About 43 percent of respondents said they'd inventoried their existing devices for IPv6-readiness.

Interestingly, 51 percent said they'd implement IPv6 all the way to the desktop (the current mandate applies only to network backbones).

Just 14 percent said implementation is underway at their agency, but with two years to go, that's not shocking--yet.

Less than 8 percent said their agencies had finished their transition plans (not shocking, see above).

4 percent actually said they were done--if you're one of them, drop us a note so we can learn more.

Overall, the Cisco/Market Connections data seems to jibe with what we've been hearing about IPv6 to date. But here's the info nugget we think says the most. The one that stops us from scratching our heads and makes us say, "Ah-ha, that's interesting."

This according to today's statement from Cisco accompanying the results: "More than 53 percent say they are likely or somewhat likely to consider IPv6 if it were not mandatory."

That's the networking vendor's glass-is-half-full interpretation. What we read is that many of the government IT managers Market Connections called weren't likely to move to IPv6 if OMB weren't making them--or had no idea one way or another. That may be the clearest indication yet that the benefits of IPv6 aren't well understood. Or are they? Hit the Comments link below and let us know.

Posted by Brad Grimes

Posted by Brad Grimes, Joab Jackson on Jun 26, 2006 at 9:39 AM


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Reader Comments

Wed, Jul 5, 2006 Shuki Sasson MA

If it isn't broken don't fix it.I think thats what all organizations think about moving from IPv4 to IPv6. For them with NAT all the addresses problem are solved.There isn't really a buisness need for IPv6 yet as there isn't yet an application that will absolutley require IPv6.This may change with applications that require peer to peer communication and mobility.I see implementation of IP Mobility on cell phones as such a killer application.IP Mobility cannot be implemented using NAT addresses. This means that each node will need its own unique IP address. With cellphones for instace it is impossible to use IPv4 thus the need for IPv6 will be more viable.Another point that IT depratment misses is that NAT based networking is more expensive to maintain in the long run then IPv6.IPv6 implementation to the desktop is needed for benefiting from IPv6. On the way the organizations will have to take hit in cost running an hybrid environment. This is why the commercial US companies are sitting on the fence.Last but not least the main problem with the transition is and was the applications.Unless all major applications will be ported to support IPv6 IT organizations will not seriously consider moving to IPv6.

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