A shift in how the U.S. Federal Government connects to the Internet is underway. The good news is that it has some very welcome benefits, including enhanced security and greater operational efficiency for federal agencies. Plus, it will help federal agencies with their IT modernization efforts. And it all revolves around IPv6, the most recent version of Internet Protocol (IP).
As the new IP standard for the U.S. Federal Government, IPv6 provides additional IP addressing and security to support the future growth of connected devices in federal agencies. The move is driven by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) mandate that 80% of IP-enabled assets on federal networks be operating in IPv6-only environments, rather than the older and less secure IPv4, by the end of fiscal 2025. By making the move, federal agencies can increase security, decrease complexity, and facilitate innovation in support of their mission.
The benefits of IPv6 over IPv4 for federal government
As I mentioned earlier, security and efficiency are big drivers in the transition from IPv4 to IPv6 by the federal government. But another big motivator is the massive amount of IPv6 addressing available. With the growth of connected devices, the need for more and more addresses has grown. And there is no slowdown in sight.
Thankfully, IPv6 offers up an impressive number of addresses for use. Consider these numbers – IPv4 is based on 32-bit addressing that is limited to just 4.3 billion addresses, but IPv6 is based on 128-bit addressing which offers 340 undecillion (340 trillion3) usable addresses! With numbers like that, the OMB’s mandate is definitely a wise one.
In addition, IPv6 addressing can reduce routing table size. It does this by allowing ISPs to aggregate customers’ prefixes into a single prefix and present only that one prefix out to the IPv6 internet. I’d like to note that many networks implement IPv6 concurrently with IPv4 (in a dual-stack design). But newer networks usually deploy IPv6 natively, providing compatibility with IPv4 if it’s needed. This approach also addresses current government mandates for IPv6 use.
The benefits of moving to IPv6 go beyond addressing. It also offers federal agencies:
- A shift from scarcity to plentiful mindset on IP enabled devices
- Stateless address autoconfiguration
- Eliminates NAT (Network Address Translation)
- True realization of IoT (Internet of Things)
- A lead in the next generation of IP communication
- Easier administration with DHCPv6
- Improved quality of service with flow labeling.
How federal agencies can approach the IPv6 OMB mandate
If you’re a leader in federal IT, I encourage you to gain a deeper understanding of just what the OMB IPv6 mandate means to your organization. As a first step, I suggest getting up to speed with two of our latest resources:
Once you review those two resources, you should start thinking about your approach to implementing IPv6 in your organization, including the opportunities available for:
- Assessing and building a strategy for network transformation to IPv6
- Building an architecture and a plan to support IPv6
- Better understanding the impact of infrastructure migration and applications availability.
How Cisco can help
Implementing a successful IPv6 strategy can be a bit daunting. Our team of Cisco IPv6 experts are glad to help you throughout the process. The Cisco Customer Experience (CX) team offers the following services with expert guidance and insights, letting you achieve better outcomes faster.
- Strategy: We can help you create a customized journey based on capabilities, current network environment, and future vision.
- Planning: Cisco’s experts can help establish and validate a next generation architecture that leverages the capabilities and benefits of IPv6.
- Transformation: We can show you how to accelerate transformation by leveraging automation based on proven methodologies and best practices.
As an industry leader in IPv6, Cisco offers the widest range of platforms and features compared to any other vendor. This gives us the capability to customize and integrate solutions sets to better meet the specific needs of your federal agency. And with 8,500 Cisco approved partners, our partner ecosystem can provide your agency with the customized solutions you need to work seamlessly with your existing or planned infrastructure as you implement the OMB IPv6 mandate.
Additional resources for OMB IPv6 success