Officials guiding federal agencies to meet a Sept. 30 deadline to comply with Internet Protocol version 6 standards say they are confident the deadline can be met, though that clearly means a lot of work must be done in the next four months.
The latest National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) tracking graphic keeping tabs on progress show as of this week, about 100 of the 1,553 domain sites were v6 compliant.
Nevertheless, officials in charge of the deployment say every agency is making real progress and working every day to get up to speed. Their assessment is based on ongoing discussions with agency CIOs – who meet regularly to monitor the progress and problems and look for ways to overcome obstacles and help each other.
Despite several agencies lagging behind, “I’m feeling pretty good about the deadline,” said Peter Tsernois, the Energy Department’s CTO who co-leads the federal IPv6 task force.
NIST’s Doug Montgomery, manager of the agency’s Internet & Scalable Systems Research, Internet Technology Laboratory, added: “There’s been significant progress in the federal sector on dot-gov.”
“All of the major agencies are participating in the process and actively working toward it,” Montgomery said. “There has been more progress in the U.S. Government than any other place on the Internet that I know of.”
The federal government, and private industry in U.S., have been pushing to upgrade their ability to handle Internet traffic because the number of IPv4 Internet addresses worldwide will soon run out. Asia has already run out of v4 addresses. Europe and the U.S. will run out in 2013. And it is becoming difficult to for users in increasing parts of the world who access the Internet using v6 systems to communicate with entities whose web pages still rely on v4 addresses.
That transition is behind today’s World IPv6 Day which serves as the latest dress rehearsal for fully converting network systems to be able to fully handle IPv6 traffic. Companies, including Akamai, AT&T, Facebook and Google, will turn IPv6 support on and leave it on. IPv4 will continue to work at these sites. While federal agencies are not participating in the event, Tseronis said the day is an effort by private industry to raise awareness of the issue.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has made the most progress within the federal government with a 99% compliance rate and an active v6 system as of several weeks ago, Montgomery said.
The graphic changes every day and looks far better than it has in the past when there were far more red lines (no progress) than green (operational), Tseronis told Breaking Gov.
To speed up the process and help them meet the deadline, agencies also have the ability to contract with Akami or other vendors for Content Network Delivery to help them roll out IPv6 compliance, he said.
Once on board, agencies will run a dual track with both v4 and v6 for at least 12-18 months after the Sept. 30 deadline, Tseronis said.
If they don’t meet the deadline, agencies will have some wiggle room, said Dale Gessey, Chief Operating Officer at Auspex Technologies, LLC, a government contractor. He recently supported the Defense Department’s IPv6 transition office.
Agencies won’t be cut off but will have to move expeditiously to get to the target, he said.
“I think you’ll see a lot agency domains get there. There may be a few that are stragglers but there’s been a tremendous amount of work being done,” he said. “A number of agencies that are still red will make the deadline. You will see an increase very quickly in June of more agencies on board.”
Sept. 30 is not the end of the road for IPv6 compliance. Every agency will have to make their internal sites IPv6 compliant behind their firewalls by 2014, Montgomery said. And the systems will be continuously monitored by NIST to make sure there are no problems.
Montgomery’s 5 tips for agencies to get up to speed with IPv6:
1. Make sure your Internet Service Provider can deliver a v6 service to your enterprise.
2. Work with vendors to make sure they have intrusion detection systems in place for v6 support.
3. Host platforms, web services such as email and DNS systems should be v6 enabled.
4. Training is the key to success. Make sure your network operators and staff have some knowledge of v6 and what it means to enable and run a v6 server.
5. Experiment, try out v6. It just works.
“I am pretty optimistic,” Montgomery said. “There’s a tremendous amount of focus on this. Agencies are moving in the right direction.”