NTT America offers IPV6 managed firewall service

Managed service aims to ease the security headaches for people adopting IPV6

Enterprises grappling with implementing IPV6 (Internet Protocol Version 6) can now at least hand off one job -- the firewalls -- to a service provider.

Internet service provider NTT America, the U.S. unit of Japan's NTT Communications Corp., is now offering a managed firewall service to its customers that use IPV6. The service is delivered through Virtela Communications, a provider of global network and security services based in Denver, NTT announced Wednesday.

IPV6, a new version of the protocol underlying the Internet, offers an exponentially larger set of potential addresses as well as some enhancements in security and other areas. However, until now, enterprises that chose to migrate to IPV6 have had to set up their own firewalls at headquarters and branch facilities, said John Powell, vice president of global channels at Virtela. Through NTT, Virtela will set up and manage a variety of IPV6-enabled firewall devices and provide round-the-clock monitoring of security problems, Powell said. Virtela claims it will find and fix most problems before the subscriber sees them, although the customer can monitor trouble tickets and post comments through a Web portal, he added.

The service is designed to provide conventional firewall functions such as enforcing enterprise security policies and protecting against viruses and hackers, said Cody Christman, director of product engineering at NTT America.

The service is an extension of a managed security offering that Virtela already offers through NTT. Customers and potential customers expressed concern about security, Christman said.

"This offering really kind of eases the pain for a lot of people that are adopting IPV6," Christman said.

NTT Communications is the incumbent carrier in Japan, where the government has strongly promoted IPV6 adoption. NTT America, based in New York, acknowledged that IPV6 adoption has been relatively slow in the U.S. Most of the company's IPV6 customers are research universities and IT vendors, such as router maker Juniper Networks, that are developing IPV6 products, Christman said. U.S. government mandates may lead to broader adoption in the coming years, he added. NTT America currently has between 30 and 50 customers using IPV6, he said.

"Part of the reason why there hasn't been a wider rollout of IPV6 is because of a lack of a security offering in the marketplace that allows IPV6 to be used in a [wide-area network] environment throughout an entire organization," Christman said.

The managed service costs $250 per month, per firewall, with no required hardware purchase. It is currently available only in the U.S., though it may be extended to international locations in the future, Christman said.