Internet policymakers and industry leaders are hailing the Obama Administration's plan to upgrade all federal websites and e-government services over the next two years to support IPv6, the long-anticipated upgrade to the Internet's main communications protocol.
The plan was released today by Federal CIO Vivek Kundra, who issued a memo requiring all federal agencies to upgrade their public-facing Web services -- including Web, email, DNS, and ISP services – to native IPv6 by Sept. 30, 2012.
[ IPv6 laggards have to watch out for another pitfall in the transition: the black market for IP addresses, as reported by InfoWorld's Mel Beckman. | Get expert networking how-to advice from InfoWorld's Networking Deep Dive PDF special report. ]
The Kundra memo establishes a second deadline of Sept. 30, 2014 for federal agencies to upgrade internal client applications that communicate with public Internet servers to use native IPv6. Each agency is required to designate an IPv6 transition manager to direct IPv6-related activities, and they must purchase network hardware and software that complies with the federal government's IPv6 testing process.
"This [memo] is the single largest impetus for change that I've seen in the last few years," says Ram Mohan, executive vice president of Afilias, which operates .info and a dozen other Internet domains. "It's going to make network providers who are on the fence about IPv6 jump off the fence because the federal government is now speaking very clearly that it is going to adopt IPv6 fully. I think it will push them to make the capital investments that are necessary to adopt IPv6. It comes at a good time because this is budget season in corporate America."
The federal IPv6 directive "is very good for IPv6 deployment in the United States," says John Curran, President and CEO of the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), which doles out IPv4 and IPv6 addresses to network operators in North America. "It's also encouraging that it follows the historic practice in the U.S. in that the emphasis is on coordination and on the federal government as a user of IT. It's not a regulatory or prescriptive direction."
Kundra released the IPv6 memo in conjunction with an IPv6 workshop held by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) today. The workshop featured high-profile executives from government, industry and Internet policymaking organizations who urged the federal government to set a deadline for IPv6-enabling their websites.
The workshop represented the first time the Obama Administration has given IPv6 any publicity in the 21 months it has been in office. Indeed, government insiders said Kundra didn't ask them about agencies' progress on IPv6 until last week, when he began preparing for NTIA's workshop.