Government Not Driving IPv6 for Enterprise

The U.S. government deadline of June 30 for IPv6 compliance is nearing. Though the government is mandating compliance, two of the biggest vendors in the government networking space do not see a mad rush in the final week.

Some doubt also exists as to whether the government’s IPv6 mandate is having an impact on enterprise adoption in the United States for IPv6.

The move to IPv6 is of critical importance as the IPv4 address space near depletion and the U.S. lags behind the rest of the world in terms of adoption.

“We haven’t really seen any last-minute rush,” Tim LeMaster, director of systems engineering for Juniper Networks (NASDAQ: JNPR), told

“Most agencies seemed to have used their time wisely since the OMB mandate was announced and now have a good handle on where they are relative to IPv6 compliance,” LeMaster added. “This is not necessarily to suggest that they are all compliant, but most seem to know where their deficiencies lie if they have any.”

The U.S. government announced
the IPv6 mandate
back in 2005. The mandate has served to be a wake-up call for the need for IPv6 in the government.

“I believe the mandate has raised the bar and awareness around IPv6,” LeMaster said.

“Even if not all agencies and systems are v6-compliant by the deadline, we are much further along than we would have been without the requirement.”

For Cisco’s Doug Gourlay, senior director, marketing and product management, Cisco Data Center Business Unit, the mandate has created a compelling event to help drive adoption.

Gourlay noted that the U.S. government is a billion dollar plus customer for Cisco.

That said, he added that Cisco has been ready for years.

“IPv6 to me is relatively simple,” Gourlay told “Six or seven years ago we started to make sure that all of the hardware products we were bringing to market were capable of supporting it,” he said. “So while the mandate hits now, it’s a good affirmation of the strategy we were already on.”

The shift to IPv6 for the government has undoubtedly involved billions of dollars. Precisely how many billions has not yet been tallied. In 2005 a report forecast that the cost could hit $75 billion.

Outside of the government, Juniper is seeing a lot of interest in IPv6 within the wireless operators.

“Most of them seem to be really interested in IPv6 for their next-generation mobile networks,” LeMaster said.

“We also see growing interest in IPv6 within the U.S. service providers, mainly around preparedness for the U.S. government mandate,” he said.

“And of course the Asian and European markets are still very actively deploying IPv6 within their networks.”

Next page: What about U.S. enterprises?

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What about U.S. enterprises?

Cisco’s Gourlay admitted that he’s just not seeing U.S.-based enterprises rushing to adopt IPv6 since address depletion is not a pain point.

“The unfortunate thing is we can legislate for the desired outcome we’d like to have, but the reality is the human factor will dictate how quickly we move,” Gourlay said. “People are still comfortable managing IPv4, and it will be a long time before they’re comfortable dealing with a 128-bit IPv6 address that you can’t remember.”

Some basic issues about deployment face IPv6, according to Gourlay. A simple item like will the printer work with IPv6 and can the phone system handle it.

The idea of a dual stack of IPv4 and IPv6 is how IPv6 is being initially deployed to deal with some of the interoperability issues. Gourlay explained that IPv4 and IPv6 are two separate addressing schema.

“Remember with Windows 95 you’d have a Novell NetWare network, and you’d check IPX and IP at the same time it’s not dissimilar,” Gourlay commented. “So while it’s logically disparate physically they’ll integrate into the same switching and routing infrastructure and the network is servicing it. It’s just a question of what addressing schema you will use to address and target an end device.”

Gourlay noted that for IPv6 to be more widely adopted by enterprise there has to be some kind of benefit to them.

“We’re not taking the tact of pushing IPv6 onto people,” Gourlay said. “We want to educate about it and that we develop products so that people are capable of making a decision and one that they are operational capable of supporting.”

Juniper’s LeMaster argues, however, that IPv6 is coming and it’s time to embrace it.

“There is still some lingering view that we need a compelling need or a killer app that will instantly create a business case for people to begin using IPv6,” LeMaster said.

“In our view, IPv6 is coming; it will continue to develop as the new global IP standard, and new applications will grow to embrace it; and the mandate is laying the foundation for those new services and applications. They’re coming and will continue to be developed.”

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