Feds making significant progress on IPv6, survey finds

* Juniper's second annual survey of government agency progress on IPv6

IPv6 has finally reached the tipping point in the U.S. government market, according to the second annual survey of federal, state and local agency IT executives released last week by Juniper.

IPv6 is a long-anticipated upgrade to the Internet’s main communications protocol, known as IPv4. U.S. federal agencies are under a mandate to support IPv6 by 2008.

The latest Juniper survey found government agencies are making significant progress in IPv6 adoption:

* A majority of federal IT officials now say that IPv6 is important in supporting their IT goals, which wasn’t the case a year ago.

* Seventy percent of survey respondents say that a lack of additional IPv4 addresses would have a negative impact on their agencies.

* The number of agencies that have written IPv6 transition plans has more than doubled from last year to 34% of Defense agencies and 25% of civilian agencies.

"Federal agencies are responding to the Office of Management and Budget mandate," says Tom Kreidler, vice president for federal operations at Juniper. "Civilian agencies are catching up to Defense agencies. IPv6 is becoming part of everybody’s future plans."

Despite the progress made, 86% of government IT officials say that the fact that other countries are ahead in IPv6 adoption will negatively impact the United States in such areas as technological leadership, national security and Internet stability.

Survey respondents overwhelmingly support the creation of a U.S. government IPv6 transition office that would standardize and coordinate the government’s IPv6 transition efforts and define IPv6 milestones beyond 2008. Such an office would be very helpful or somewhat helpful, according to 75% of survey respondents.

IPv6 promises easier administration, tighter security and an enhanced addressing scheme over IPv4. IPv6, which uses a 128-bit addressing scheme, supports a virtually limitless number of uniquely identified systems on the 'Net, while IPv4 supports only a few billion systems because it uses a 32-bit addressing scheme.

Developed a decade ago, IPv6 has been slow to catch on in the United States because U.S. government agencies and companies secured large blocks of IPv4 addresses when the Internet was first invented. IPv6 is more popular in Asia and Europe, where IPv4 address space is scarce.

Juniper’s latest IPv6 survey finds that attitudes in the U.S. federal market are shifting in favor of IPv6. For example, 62% of survey respondents say they are discussing IPv6 within their organizations, up from 57% a year ago.

More importantly, survey respondents say IPv6 will become increasingly significant in their IT purchasing decisions. Indeed, 68% of IT officials said they were more likely to choose a vendor that supports IPv6, and 30% said they were willing to pay more for IPv6 capabilities.

In terms of direct spending on IPv6 products and services, agency officials estimated their agencies would spend more than $3 million in 2007, but that number would rise to more than $8 million in 2008.

Government IT buyers anticipate a rapid deployment of IPv6 over the next five years. Respondents said that about a third of their agencies’ current IT infrastructure includes IPv6-capable equipment, but that number would be double or more by 2011.

Interest in IPv6 is on the rise for state and local government officials, too, even though they are not under the mandate to transition to IPv6. State and local IT officials say that direct spending on IPv6 products and services for their agencies would rise from $1.3 million in 2007 to $2.1 million in 2008.

"We just saw the first state and local RFP requesting IPv6. It was from California," says Lou Anne Brossman, director of U.S. public sector marketing for Juniper. "The state and local market seems to be keeping up with the same shift as the federal market."

Survey respondents want to see the U.S. government play a more active role in industry adoption of IPv6. More than half of respondents said the U.S. should provide guidance and some level of funding to support the U.S. industry transition to IPv6.

The survey was conducted by Juniper and SynExi. It consisted of an e-mail survey of more than 1,000 IT officials in military and civilian agencies.

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