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DoD to transition to IPv6 in 5 years starting october 2003 (posted 2003-06-15)

This friday the 13th (of june 2003), John Stenbit, assisten secretary of defense, announced that the US Department of Defense will start its transition to IPv6 this october. The DoD expects to be fully IPv6-capable by 2008. The reasons to switch to IPv6 are:

  • better quality of service
  • end-to-end security
  • to keep in step with expected developments in the commercial internet

The transition is not driven by lack of IPv4 address space. However, there is no fundamental difference in QoS and security mechanisms between IPv6 and IPv4, apart from the flow label field in IPv6 for which there isn't really a use yet, so these are questionable reasons to move to IPv6. The DoD expects switching to IPv6 in the commercial internet (or at least significant parts thereof) to happen at a faster rate, so in order to keep up the DoD is taking a head start.

The DoD initiative was met with approval on the IETF discussion list, although some people remain sceptical as past announcements, such as the adoption of the ADA programming language or ISO CLNS didn't exactly pan out. Still, reading the transcipt of the briefing the DoD seems to mean business by requiring all IP-capable hard- and software procured after october first to support IPv6.