[LINK] Defence leads the way with IPv6: summit
brd at iimetro.com.au
Thu Nov 3 11:49:02 EST 2005
Defence leads the way with IPv6: summit
Supporting the local IT industry is one of the key drivers behind the
Australian Defence Force's migration to IPv6, according to its director
general of information policy, David Richards.
The Defence Force plans to migrate to IPv6 by 2013 to remain interoperable
with allied nations in an increasingly IP-enabled world while fostering the
IT industry, Richards said at Australia's first IPv6 summit in Canberra
"The Department of Defence is a strong supporter of IPv6, and we also
support the Australian IT industry," he said.
"Defence expects that the early adoption of IPv6 will assist the Australian
IT industry in its business case for investing in IPv6. The department is a
major buyer of IT services and hardware, so by transitioning to IPv6, we
hope to stimulate interest in the new protocol within the Australian
industry and thereby increase the range of solutions that will be available
The three other drivers were future-proofing (meeting future needs such as
network-centric warfare), interoperability with the US and other allied
forces and also simply that IPv6 is inevitable.
"Therefore, rather than wait for the emergence of uncontrolled islands of
IPv6, we intend to take the initiative and carefully manage the
introduction of the new protocol," Richards said.
Overall, the large address space, inbuilt security and mobility functions
of IPv6 will be an important enabler of information sharing and offer new
capabilities not possible with IPv4, he said.
"The network data space of the not-too-distant future will enable real-time
information sharing and communication across large distances using an array
of different devices and types of connectivity," he said.
"It's foreseeable that some time after 2008 the US Defense forces will stop
supporting IPv4. If the Australian department continued to rely solely upon
IPv4, the integration of equipment sourced from the US will be increasingly
complex and costly."
It would also make interoperability and communication near impossible as
most of this is IP-based, he said.
The transition from IPv4 to IPv6 does not come without challenges.
The migration date of 2013 was set after an extensive review balancing the
drivers against the possible risks and extra costs incurred in
transitioning too early.
"Many of the risks that Defence faces in transitioning will be managed by
incorporating the lessons learnt by the US in its transition to IPv6, which
should be completed by 2008," Richards said.
By transitioning incrementally over eight years, Richards hopes to minimize
costs and exposure to potential risk.
"By 2013, we expect most of our hardware and software to be replaced as
part of our normal refresh cycle, so we actually expect a great deal of our
information environment will be IPv6-ready well before 2013, as it would
not be cost-effective or feasible to continue running IPv4 in many areas,"
There will be some applications and hardware that have replacement cycles
extending beyond 2013, but will be IPv6 enabled when they are replaced.
Richards said one of the main challenges faced is ensuring that
communication between IPv4 and IPv6 domains continues to work seamlessly
and that security is maintained during the transition period.
"We plan to commence a study of the many devices that will enable the two
protocols to inter-operate on single network architecture, as each has its
own unique pros and cons," he said.
Another challenge, according to Richards, is selling the IPv6 concept, as
it is relatively unknown, even within the IT community.
"When the CIO mandated the transition, the responses internally ranged from
jubilation to despair. Like most technology professionals, Defence's IT
staff are busy, and some viewed the transition as being for change's sake
alone, which is not the case," he said.
Defence plans to hold a number of educational programs internally to
educate staff about the advantages and also potential problems of IPv6,
though the department is also trying to "sell" the technology to external
"These include our suppliers, other government departments and our allied
nations. By attending this summit and several other forums, Defence hopes
to spread the message that IPv6 will enable new capabilities in information
At MCI, we have made a full commitment to implement and deploy IPv6 during
-- Vinton Cerf
brd at iimetro.com.au
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