Internet Protocol Version 6

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IPv6 Transition Guidance

Issued by

Federal CIO Council Architecture and Infrastructure Committee

February 2006

Table of Contents

Internet Protocol (IP) is the "language" and set of rules computers use to talk to each other over the Internet. The existing protocol supporting the Internet today - Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4) - provides the world with only 4 billion IP addresses, inherently limiting the number of devices that can be given a unique, globally routable address on the Internet. The emergence of IPv6, providing the world with an exponentially larger number of available IP addresses, is essential to the continued growth of the Internet and development of new applications leveraging mobile Internet connectivity. Although the information technology (IT) community has come up with workarounds for this shortage in the IPv4 environment, IPv6 is the true long-term solution to this problem.

Federal government agencies should prepare for the future of networking and Internet technology by enabling their networks to support IPv6 addresses and data packets. There are many considerations when introducing any emerging technology into an organization's infrastructure. Therefore, this type of transition should be done methodically and mindfully, with full awareness of the benefits, challenges, and caveats surrounding the technical implementation of IPv6. This document outlines many of these benefits, challenges, and caveats, and provides Federal government agencies with IPv6 transition "best practices" which can be used to inform agency IPv6 transition planning and the adoption of IPv6 into their IT infrastructure.

In August of 2005, the Office of Management Budget issued Memorandum M-05-22, "Transition Planning for Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6)", establishing the goal of enabling all Federal government agency network backbones to support the next generation of the Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) by June 30, 2008.

The memorandum requires the agency's network backbone to be ready to transmit both IPv4 and IPv6 traffic, and support IPv4 and IPv6 addresses, by June 30, 2008. Agencies must be able to demonstrate they can perform at least the following functions, without compromising IPv4 capability or network security:

Transmit IPv6 traffic from the Internet and external peers, through the network backbone (core), to the LAN. Transmit IPv6 traffic from the LAN, through the network backbone (core), out to the Internet and external peers. Transmit IPv6 traffic from the LAN, through the network backbone (core), to another LAN (or another node on the same LAN).

The requirements for June 30, 2008 are for the network backbone (core) only. IPv6 does not actually have to be operationally enabled (i.e. turned on) by June 30, 2008. However, network backbones must be ready to pass IPv6 traffic and support IPv6 addresses. Applications, peripherals, and other IT assets which are not leveraged in the execution of the functions mentioned above are not required for the June 30, 2008 deadline. Agencies are expected to verify this new capability through testing activities. They are also required to maintain security during and after adoption of IPv6.

In support of these goals, OMB...
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