Companies to build IPv6 test center

The center will be used to test networks and products for IPv6 compatibility, and will focus on serving government agencies

Two companies involved in advancing the next-generation Internet have announced a partnership to create a large IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) test center near Washington, D.C.

Many details of the test center have not been worked out yet, but the goal is to create the world's leading IPv6 testing facility, said Spirent Federal Systems, one of the partners in the project. The center, which will be used to test networks and products for IPv6 compatibility, will focus on serving U.S. government agencies, said Ellen Hall, president and chief executive officer of Spirent Federal.

Teaming with Spirent Federal will be v6 Transition, the consulting and training arm of IPv6 Summit Inc., which organizes IPv6 conferences. IPv6 Summit is led by Alex Lightman, one of the leading advocates of the widespread transition to IPv6. The two companies announced their partnership during the IPv6 Summit in Reston, Virginia, this week.

The test center, to be located in northern Virginia, will be operational "very soon," Hall said. While details about the size of the center are still being finalized, it will be large enough to conduct IPv6 tests for "several agencies at one time," she said.

The IPv6 Test Center will be the first to marry IPv6 industry expertise and resources with large-scale government testing experiences, the companies said.

Hall called the partnership with v6 Transition a "significant" pairing, combining v6 Transition's expertise on implementing IPv6 with Spirent Federal's contacts with U.S. government agencies such as the Department of Defense.

"We already have really good relationships with government agencies," Hall said.

The Defense Department has set 2008 as a target for making its computer systems compatible with IPv6. The White House Office of Management and Budget announced in June that U.S. government agencies must be IPv6 compatible by June 2008.

Backers of IPv6 call it a major improvement over IPv4. IPv6 has several advantages, including built-in security, multicasting functionality and better support for mobile devices, backers say. More use of IPv6 could lead to better Internet TV, videoconferencing and military-grade security, advocates say.

Also announced this week in conjunction with the IPv6 Summit:

-- The University of New Hampshire's InterOperability Laboratory, joined by 10 companies and the U.S. military, tested several IPv6 functions on the Moonv6 network, the world's largest multivendor IPv6 network. Testers successfully made international VOIP (voice over IP) calls, as well as testing some security and mobility functions. The VOIP calls, between New Hampshire and South Korea, tested IPv4 equivalency using an IPv4/IPv6 tunnel.

-- IPv6 Summit and Juniper Networks Inc. released an IPv6 guideline report called, "The IPv6 Best Practices World Report: A Guide for Federal Agencies Transitioning to IPv6." The report will be the first in a series aimed at providing ideas from government and industry on best practices, and for discussing lessons learned from other IPv6 transition efforts in the public and private sectors, the companies said. The series of reports will also include program management models, workflow processes and resources IPv6 implementation teams can use.