December 2012 deadline for whole-of-government IPv6 capability: AGIMO

Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) preparing for IPv6 capability since 2008

The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) has set a deadline of December 31, 2012 for all Commonwealth agencies to have their customer-facing systems, applications and internet gateways IPv6 compliant.

Speaking at the IPv6 Summit in Melbourne this week. John Hillier, an Assistant Director at AGIMO who is focused on IPv6 transition said that a whole of Government approach has been taken by the Federal Government in relation to transition to IPv6. AGIMO is the nominated umbrella agency for providing and governing IPv6 policies and guidance.

“We have been preparing for IPv6 capability since 2008,” Hillier said of the three stage program of preparation, transition and implementation. “Stage 1 required all agencies to review and update procurement policies to ensure that IPv6 capability was included in all hardware and applications going forward.

“It also included stocktakes of hardware and applications to determine what they had that was IPv6 capable – what they could keep and what needed to be upgraded or maintained as legacy equipment.

“We now have 100 per cent of agencies that have updated their ICT procurement policies to reflect a requirement for IPv6 capability to be included and considered in all hardware and applications.

“So if you are a service provider and you are dealing with the Government and they don’t mention IPv6, then we suggest that you do.

In the stocktake, agencies only had to review externally facing equipment that was being used to send information across the internet.

“Every agency has now completed their stocktakes,” Hillier said. “They now know what needs to be upgraded, what can be kept and what can be maintained as legacy equipment in the transition and deployment of full IPv6 capability.”

Hillier said stock-taking was a difficult task for sprawling technology agencies such as Defence and the CSIRO where there are lots of cell groups developing their own systems and apps, but it was completed by the December 2009 deadline.

The second transitional stage which is mandated to be completed by the end of this year involves agencies upgrading their externally facing hardware and applications to a 100 per cent level of IPv6 readiness including applying for and reserving their own IPv6 address space.

There have been challenges in some agencies to update all of their operating systems and internet gateways to IPv6 capability but work is well underway and most will meet the deadline.

Hillier produced survey results that attested to 78 per cent of agencies being well progressed or better in upgrading their hardware and applications while 76 per cent are well progressed or better with the OS upgrade.

“We are helping the ones that are dragging the chain a little and we are hopeful that they will all get over the line before the December 31, 2011 deadline or shortly thereafter,” Hiller said. “There has also been a gateway reduction program running concurrently which has added complexity.”

Larger “lead” agencies will be allowed until June 2012 to have their gateways IPv6 capable and their “client” agencies could then come on board between June and December 2012 to meet the implementation deadline.

Hillier said that the Implementation stage starts in January 2012 and will be tested and finalised by the end of December 2012.

“By then agencies should be in a position where they can turn on their IPv6 capable systems and it will work,” Hiller said. “Agencies will be able to send and receive information across the internet in IPv6 exactly the same as they do with IPv4.

“Citizens, other people and organisations of all sorts that Governments touch will be able to engage in two-way communication regardless of the protocol they choose to use.”

AGIMO says that it has deliberately made the implementation phase “light-on” because “there will be some agencies that will not complete the transition in time”.

“Most of the hard slog has been in the second stage but for those who are not ready they have 12 months to get it right,” Hillier said. “As we now move onto the implementation stage in January, 2012 we already have 10 per cent of agencies saying that they are IPv6 compliant and ready to roll.

“Our big deadline is December 2012 to get the implementation done. That’s the target we are aiming for. There are some agencies that are looking like they might need some help to get there but we think we can assist all of them to get those requirements.”

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