IPv6 conference plans for 'key technology insertion'

  • Published
  • By Katherine Kebisek
  • Air Force Network Integration Center
More than 60 representatives from across the Air Force and Department of Defense gathered recently in San Antonio for the Internet Protocol version 6 Conference to discuss the status and way ahead for the Air Force's transition to IPv6.

As part of the event, 24th Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Suzanne Vautrinot highlighted the benefits IPv6 will offer for her organization's mission to manage the complex cyber environment while addressing increasing threats.

"You are doing key technology insertion when you do IPv6," said General Vautrinot. She noted the significance of the large number of new IP addresses IPv6 will provide, which she described as 32 Internet Protocol addresses for every square inch of dry land on Earth.

"It's about the flexibility that it gives you ... in what we can do as people move around on the battle space. It's the additional security involved. We are looking forward to that change," she said.

Internet Protocol is the way in which computers and other networked devices identify themselves and communicate over the Internet. The Air Force Network Integration Center is leading the Air Force's transition from IPv4, the current IP addressing format, to IPv6, taking great care to ensure this major change to the network is seamless and transparent to Airmen.

As such, AFNIC officials hosted the IPv6 conference to bring Major Command, sister services and cyber operators together to educate them on the Air Force's IPv6 transition and their roles in planning and implementing that transition, with hopes that they'll then help educate others.

"Our customers are going to be coming in on IPv6, and a lot of what we do for our jobs may change depending on IPv6," said Lt. Col. Richard Janoso, AFNIC Vice Commander, during his remarks. "It's our job to understand and work through those things and try to figure out what we need to do to position our Air Force for the environment that is coming rapidly."

During the three-day conference, attendees participated in a number of interactive sessions and received several briefings to learn more about the Air Force cyber missions they support, the importance of IPv6, and the way ahead for transition.

"Since there are so many organizations that have to work together to ensure network planning and operations work, it's important to bring them all together at one time in one place," said Doug Fry, AFNIC's IPv6 Lead Engineer. "It allows them the opportunity to ask questions, highlight concerns, and share successes and lessons learned."

Training and tools were among the biggest needs voiced from the operational community during the conference. These concerns and others will be addressed in an IPv6 Implementation Plan the AFNIC's IPv6 Transition Management Office is developing, which is expected to be completed later this year.

"As a MAJCOM action officer, I found [the conference] very informative and beneficial," said Master Sgt. George Garcia, a program manager in the Pacific Air Forces Capabilities and Integration branch, and an IPv6 lead for PACAF. He noted that the opportunity to meet with stakeholders and other IPv6 key personnel was invaluable in helping to make sure the transition goes smoothly.

The IPv6 transition of the unclassified portion of the Internet within the U.S. government is scheduled to be completed by 2014 in accordance with a mandate by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.