RealTime IT News

The Sprint To IPv6

Sprint is gearing up for deploying the next generation IPv6  Internet protocol with new IPv6 services. The effort by the national carrier is being driven by a June 2008 US federal government mandate for IPv6.

Whether or not the government agencies will actually be running IPv6 by June of 2008 is an issue that is still not yet clear. All told, it could amount to billions of dollars of revenue for vendors in 2008 and beyond.

Tony D'Agata, vice president of federal sales for Sprint explained to InternetNews.com that Sprint has been working with IPv6 from a development point of view for many years. That said, due to the looming federal mandate Sprint is ramping up some specific IPv6 offerings that are expected to be ready in the second quarter of 2008.

"We are IPv6 enabling our network and actively pursing putting IPv6 on our peerless IP network," D'Agata said. "We also have plans to implement IPv6 on other assets."

Sprint's Peerless IP (PIP) network is Sprint's own Internet platform that is both logically and physically separate from the public Internet. According to D'Agata it is Sprint's PIP network that provides competitive differentiation against others that are seeking to provide IPv6 services to the government.

"It's the only physically separated IP platform out there without peering points or gateways," D'Agata claimed. "Having that IPv6 enabled allows agencies to procure peerless IP which has been popular in helping to reduce incidents of denial of service."

In terms of helping government and commercial enterprise customers with migration issues from IPv4 to IPv6, the plan is for Sprint to run a dual stack using both versions of IP.

"For those government agencies that need to be IPv6 enabled, it's just a matter of moving their ports over to the IPv6 environment," D'Agata said. "Those that don't can stay with IPv4."

What's driving the demand for IPv6 at this point is a US Government Office of Management and Budget (OMB) mandate for IPv6 by June of 2008. The plan for Sprint is to be there for its government customers to help them be compliant with the mandate. There is however still a question of how far the IPv6 mandate actually extends and what it specifically entails.

"The OMB mandate is to be IPv6 enabled," D'Agata argued. "It is not yet clear whether or not agencies will actually chose to activate services on IPv6. They have so many other initiatives on their plate and this is just one of them. Time will tell if they will have active IPv6 networks and will be actually transporting traffic over their networks."

The basic reason why there is a need for IPv6 in the first place is the simple fact that the IPv4 address space is near exhaustion. IPv6 offers significantly more address space, which is something that government wants. D'Agata noted that among the agencies that are likely to deploy IPv6 is the Department of Defense (DoD), which wants to create IP addresses on major pieces of equipment in the battle space.

To date there have been a number of different reasons why IPv6 has not been implemented in the government.

"There have been some contractual delays that precluded the implementation and not all agencies have yet migrated to an IP environment," D'Agata said. "Quite a few are in legacy technologies like ATM or Frame Relay so they have to go to go through a process of re-architecting their network environment."

The other reason for the slow adoption of IPv6 is that for many, there simply hasn't been a real imperative to move.

"There is no critical application yet that agencies are saying 'gee, I need IPv6 for this'," D'Agata commented. "When you're only implementing it to meet a government mandate you go at a different pace then if you actually need if for an application."