Ron Broersma, DREN chief engineer, told the North American IPv6 Summit audience that IPv6 is ready for deployment. "Security and performance of IPv6 is equivalent to IPv4," he said. "IPv6 deployment doesn't have to be costly if you use tech refresh and if you don't procrastinate."
Broersma said one challenge for federal agencies is that some of the carriers that they are required to use through the Networx contract are not providing sufficient IPv6 services. Networx is an umbrella telecommunications contract that federal agencies must use to purchase voice, video and data services.
"There are some carriers on the Networx contract lacking IPv6. One won't have it until the end of the calendar year," Broersma said. "Some federal agencies may need to switch ISPs, which is a pretty big deal."
Broersma said that two federal network security efforts -- the Trusted Internet Connect (TIC) Initiative and Managed Trusted Internet Protocol Services (MTIPS) -- also are behind on deploying IPv6.
Broersma said other challenges for federal agencies trying to deploy IPv6 are the lack of feature parity between IPv4- and IPv6-based network hardware and software, as well as the lack of support for Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol for IPv6 (DHCPv6).
"Existing security products lack IPv6 support. Mainstream intrusion detection systems are not ready," he added. "But we have a much better story for doing network management over IPv6 than two years ago."
One federal agency that's successfully deployed IPv6 is the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has IPv6 deployed on 99% of its websites. Steve Pirzchalski, IPv6 transition manager for the VA, said the agency has IPv6 support for its DNS, SMTP/mail and Web services for all of the websites under its va.gov domain.
"We are very happy about this," Pirzchalski said at the North American IPv6 Summit. "We did get our gateways transitioned, which was not inconsequential. We launched our main website -- www.va.gov -- for World IPv6 Day last June, and we've had continuous IPv6 operation since then."