The Australian government says agencies have made "good progress" toward enabling IPv6 by year end. However, Internet Society of Australia (ISOC-AU) President Narelle Clark said she has doubts that this will happen without a formal mandate like the one in the US.
"Agencies are expected to have their external facing ICT systems IPv6 capable by [the end of] December 2012," said a spokeswoman for the the Australian Government Information Management Office.
"This is a target date and not mandatory. Agencies regularly report their progress and most are likely to achieve this date."
The Australian government set the end-of-December 2012 goal in a 2008 paper, A Strategy for the Implementation of IPv6 in Government Agencies (PDF). The Strategy outlined a three-stage process to transition to IPv6 with target dates for each phase.
ISOC AU's Clark is not quite as upbeat about the government's movement to IPv6. "I'm not seeing a lot of progress," she told Computerworld Australia. The team at AGIMO "have been very thorough and supportive. Sadly, their effectiveness has been low."
To illustrate her point, Clark points to a survey of government agencies by Internet architect Mark Prior. Covered with red "FAIL" signs, the chart paints a more pessimistic picture of agencies' adoption of IPv6.
"I am more and more inclined towards a mandate" requiring Australian government agencies to adopt IPv6, Clark said.
An IPv6 mandate in the US ordered by the nation's former CIO Vivek Kundra went into effect on 30 September. It requires all federal government agencies to make all public websites and email available on IPv6.
Even with a mandate, US agencies are still far from 100 per cent IPv6 enabled, according to numbers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) dated 4 October. The chart shows that only about 20 per cent of domains have IPv6 enabled for Web. However, industry observers still say that's good progress.
Clark said it's "extremely important" to the IPv6 transition that government agencies commit to the new addressing scheme.
"With government adopting and providing services over IPv6 you more quickly get to economies of scale," she said.
"You also stop more of the finger pointing, where the ISPs claim there is no need, because there is no content, and the content providers claim there is no one using it, therefore no need to provide content."
"Unfortunately with the transition taking as long as it is we are stuck with NAT [network address translation] and will be for some time," Clark said.
NAT is a process whereby IP address information of IP traffic is modified while in transit. "With NAT you get extra latency (ie delays in content delivery), mismatching of flows, more dropped flows, and more traffic unable to be set up in the first place. That means: missed pages, missed calls, and missed business/education/communication," she said.
"Another issue with wider and wider implementation of NAT is that it provides a distorted network model -- tromboning everyone's traffic through NAT boxes rather than over more optimum paths," Clark said. "This results in more delay and bandwidth inefficiencies--congestion where you don't need it."
IPv6 provides about 340 trillion IP addresses, compared to 4 billion addresses under IPv4. Exhaustion of IPv4 addresses has necessitated the transition. When it came to IPv6 adoption, Australia was behind Azerbaijan and many Asian countries going into World IPv6 Day this past June.
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