IPv6 - The Time is Now
The OMB directive on upgrading to IPv6 affects not only agencies, but network providers as well. Verizon Business is fully committed to supporting the new IPv6 protocol, while continuing to evolve and modernize its IPv4 capabilities.
Verizon Business has been involved in the development of IPv6 since 1998, when then-MCI provided an experimental IPv6 service for the National Science Foundation. In 2002, the company offered Internet Exchange IPv6 peering service at the MAE-West peering location. In 2004, we offered global public IPv6 Internet service over the UUNet backbone and participated in Moonv6 interoperability testing.
Today, Verizon Business offers native IPv6 service on its nationwide vBNS+ backbone. This service, available to federal agencies, can be ordered as IPv4, IPv6 or dual stack IPv4/IPv6. The vBNS+ backbone was designed for federal agencies to have a secure IP backbone with no external gateways, thus making it a private backbone. The backbone is MPLS-enabled, providing communication at the IP protocol layer, natively. The vBNS+ IP backbone provides standard based Layer 3 VPN service based on RFC-2547.
Many Verizon Business customers are moving from a frame relay/ATM type of network to vBNS+, allowing them to connect to a fully IPv6 enabled backbone and to request IPv6 at any time. Verizon Business is also in the final planning stages of upgrading the backbone that support its commercially available Private IP (Verizon Business’ Layer 3 MPLS VPN) service and the Public IP backbone to natively support IPv6 by the end of 2007. Our Public IP currently supports an overlay IPv6 network using GRE tunnels, providing agencies the ability to directly connect to an IPv6-enabled backbone or just have native IPv6 connectivity.
Verizon Business also provides managed services for IPv6-enabled backbones. We have been supporting and managing the first DoD pilot IPv6-enabled 140-node nationwide network since 2003. This network is managed out of our Government Network Operations and Security Center (GNOSC) in Ashburn, VA. To support IPv6-enabled backbones, Verizon Business has developed custom management tools to monitor the IPv6 network via SNMPv3. The GNOSC management center has the ability to support custom management and security solutions, based on the customer requirements, in a secure environment that meets NIST and FISMA requirements.
To ensure that their applications will work properly over the new protocol, agencies need to create a test lab environment. An effective method is to connect the test lab to the outside world and learn from other users, rather than testing in a closed environment. A test bed that is connected to a dual stack IPv6-enabled backbone, such as vBNS+, will allow agencies to test many different facets of IPv6 as it relates to their core business requirements.
The IPv6 transition is driven by the dedication and determination of visionaries, and it will not be easy. It will require many test phases, design changes, addressing plans, numerous discussions, re-planning, and re-designing to ensure a successful implementation.
Verizon Business provides Life Cycle Engineering (LCE) and professional services to help customers analyze their current infrastructure, transition methodology toward IPv6, create test plans, and test security concerns. Verizon Business uses its developmental lab (D-Lab) services to offer agencies the opportunity to test IPv6-compatible hardware and software on our live network prior to purchase and implementation. Agencies can utilize this lab to test the impact of IPv6 on their current applications and infrastructure.
Any successful IPv6 transition will require many test phases, design changes, and multiple planning sessions. So, the question becomes: Is IPv6 ready for the mainstream? At Verizon Business, we believe the answer is yes!
Many Asian countries are already transitioning to IPv6 because they are running out of IPv4 address space. For the United States to be competitive in the global market, we must embrace IPv6 now. Internet protocol survived the days of IPX/SPX, NetBIOS, and Banyan Vines and emerged as a communication protocol leader, and if Internet pundits are right, soon we will have everything over IP (EoIP). The shortcomings of IPv4 have been discussed since the early 1990s, and now is the time for federal agencies to take the IPv6 leap.
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