Paving the Way for IPv6

Digital Transformation - Research and Perspectives

Paving the Way for IPv6

Posted on 04.17.23

What happens to agencies that can’t meet the 2025 deadline? Can they get extensions?

It would be a black eye for the chief information officer who failed to meet the deadline. People should start the process and the federal government will recognize that they’re working toward that 2025 goal and managing that transition. There won’t be extensions.

What challenges do agencies face in transitioning to IPv6 and how can they overcome them?

A key challenge is finding experienced people with an in-depth knowledge of IPv6 and how to accomplish each part of the transition. Agencies need to bring subject matter experts (SMEs) on board and develop a training plan for staff dedicated to the transition.

Where are the majority of agencies in the transition process? What agencies are taking the lead?

One third of all federal agencies are fully engaged, one third are actively working toward the objectives and another third have plans in place and are gradually assigning resources to plan their path. The Treasury Department is among the government organizations taking the lead, along with the Departments of Education, Interior and Commerce.

What are some best practices for transitioning to IPv6? What are we learning from agencies leading the charge on this?

Lessons learned corroborate the best practices. A best practice is to establish and maintain an appropriate engineering lifecycle tied directly to a professional program management office. IPv6 is a huge technology insertion into the technological enterprise. Government agencies will have challenges if they don’t have good program management practices in place. Another is to bring in IPv6 SMEs to provide guidance and specifications and allow your respective staff members to learn from them.

What is the private sector doing about IPv6?

Large companies are embracing IPv6, as they should. Many of the large data sources — for example, Google and LinkedIn — are using IPv6 already because it’s faster, easier to manage and has better cybersecurity. They’re ahead of their competitors. Medium-sized to small vendors are stuck in their development lifecycle and as yet don’t see the immediate value — i.e., profit — in changing their technical approach.

What are some helpful resources for guidance about IPv6?

Talk with people who have made the journey and come out the other side, such as leaders from the already mentioned federal departments. In the private sector, these include folks from Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Wells Fargo, in addition to Google and LinkedIn. They have good best practices in place. You can also do a Google search for books written about IPv6 — some of which are highly technical. Just make sure the resource you choose isn’t a recipe or cookbook: it has to meet your specific company’s IT needs.

Ralph Wallace

As program director and IPv6 lead at Aptive, Ralph leads a 40-person team through the IPv6 transition under the OMB Memo M-21-07 for a cabinet-level agency. The memo requires the federal government to complete the transition to IPv6. Ralph is internationally recognized as an IPv6 subject matter expert. The IPv6 Forum designated him an IPv6 Deployment World Leader, and he has been inducted into the international IPv6 Hall of Fame. Ralph contributed significantly to the latest federal government directive to move all federal agencies to IPv6-only enterprises by 2025. Over the past 13 years, he has led various federal cross-organizational teams in their respective enterprise transition to IPv6, including every aspect of the transition from technical to logistical and programmatic. Ralph has more than 40 years of technology experience in executive and systems engineering leadership; engineering, portfolio, program and project management; and capture management.