OMB: Agency information sharing key in Internet's technical upgrade

Federal agencies should actively share information as they transition to the technical parts of the next-generation Internet in time for the June 2007 deadline set by the Office of Management and Budget, according to a report released Thursday.

The study, which was released during the annual IPv6 Summit in Reston, Va., was designed to serve as a guide for federal agencies and is based on interviews, surveys and public presentations on the transition.

"I have been talking to different agencies and each has plans, and they are very close," said Dale Geesey, vice president of consulting for V6 Transition, the consulting and training arm of Innofone.com.

Federal agencies have until Feb. 15 to submit their first transition plans to OMB regarding Internet protocol version 6, or IPv6.

Geesey said federal agencies largely could follow similar plans for obtaining new Internet addresses. "You'll save money and create a greater level of interoperability," said Geesey, a co-author of the report, which was paid for by Juniper Networks.

He recommended centralized management of the transition across all federal agencies rather than having a transition team for each one.

"You're going to have interoperability issues and a higher cost if you don't have a centralized approach to management," Geesey said.

Geesey said his research shows testing the system later also would benefit agencies. He explained that 80 percent to 85 percent of the enterprise architecture for federal agencies are similar to each other so the testing would be the same. Testing similar systems together would save time and money.

Agencies further along in the transition have successfully started on a small part of the network backbone and then used tunneling to provide IPv6 to the rest of the network. But Geesey cautions that is not always the best approach. It depends on what has been upgraded recently.

Switching from the current Internet to the new Internet will not be simple. The phase-in of technologies to allow both protocols to operate as Ipv6 will be essential.

Companies that are selling equipment to aid the transition agree much of their role now is education and training. Juniper Networks plans to release quarterly updates to Thursday's best practices report.

Cisco Systems is helping agencies inventory existing equipment that will need to be switched, a step required by OMB, according to Cisco Product Management Manager Patrick Grossetete.

"It's not just about putting IPv6 in, but transforming the way the federal government does business," Geesey said.

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