Feds@Work: The IPv6 Guardian Angel

on August 10, 2011 at 10:30 AM

Steven Pirzchalski is a very popular guy these days.

As director of enterprise telecommunications for the Department of Veterans Affairs, he’s the VA’s IPv6 lead person on transitioning the agency to the new version of Internet protocol. He’s also the point person to answer every question other agencies have about the transition, a role the Office of Management and Budget gave him three months ago.

With a Sept. 30, 2012, deadline just 13 months away, the questions have been coming furiously as agencies work internally and with vendors on leaving v4 behind and welcoming v6 as the next generation.

“There are meetings twice a week, and there are always conversations going back and forth. We’re sharing and collaborating with the information we have,” Pirzchalski said in an interview with Breaking Gov.

There are questions about engineering plans and questions about transition plans. And there are plenty of questions about addresses; how many v6 addresses to write and how to assign them.

“It’s important to have an addressing plan to figure out how everything will connect,” Pirzchalski said. “It’s not a problem. It’s more an opportunity for agencies to look at different ways of addressing.”

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are also questions on technical issues, policy, training, how to get buy-in from leadership teams, and how to get budget support, he said. By now, agencies have developed v6 teams and named a v6 point person, someone to communicate regularly with Pirzchalski.

“Eventually the whole seesaw will turn and v6 will be the predominant method of communication in America,” he said.

Right now, he said agencies have developed internal teams to work toward IPv6 and get outside help from any one of a myriad private companies with the expertise required for the transition.

Agencies are already finding that some of their vendors cannot meet the timetable for the Sept. 30, 2012, deadline and have to be replaced right now to move an agency toward the v6 goal.

“It should be a wake-up call to industry,” Pirzchalski said.

Here are Pirzchalski’s four tips for agencies to grab hold of v6 and succeed:

  • Get executive level buy-in especially if your CIO doesn’t really know what you are doing and what’s important
  • Get budget dollars in place now. They need to do that for ’12, ’13 and ’14
  • Be able to show your success in moving forward
  • Utilize volunteers — anyone who would like to help can help

There is no wiggle room for the deadline, but he’s confident agencies will meet the 2012 deadline for v6 external communication and be ready to meet the ’14 deadline for internal readiness.

“Globally, folks are moving faster than the U.S. For the U.S. to be competitive, we need to make this transition. Get it over with. Over time, folks will appreciate the fact that we got there,” Pirzchalski said.

To reach Pirzchalski with questions on IPv6, email him at [email protected].