Feds tackling IPv6, office of Treasury Board Prez tells me

Snippet from ISOC Web page

Credit where credit is due.

In January of last year I wrote 2 posts about the depletion of IPv4 addresses – IANA out of IPv4 addresses this week. In the course of my research, I discovered some members of Canada’s IT community were very unhappy with the federal government’s apparent inaction on the crucial IPv6 transition.


Fun facts: IPv6 uses a 128-bit address system, i.e. 2^128, which = 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 addresses (a 39-digit string). So roughly 3.4*10^38, or 340 trillion, trillion, trillion addresses. IPv6 is big enough so that every square meter of the Earth’s surface could be assigned 6 billion billion billion addresses (6 octillion, or 6*10^27).


So I decided to go to the horse’s mouth – namely the office of the CIO at Treasury Board Secretariat, which has control of the deployment of digital technologies among federal departments and agencies. The timing seemed appropriate, given the world-wide attention being given to depletion of the original address space. The response I got was prompt and not very encouraging:

“Here is Treasury Board Secretariat’s response to your question on IPv6:
Question: What is the Government of Canada’s strategy for upgrading to Internet Protocol Version 6?
– The Government of Canada is aware of the technical requirements and the service improvements IPv6 will provide, and will be following a similar direction as other countries for its migration.
– The Treasury Board Secretariat is working with departments to define a path and timelines for migrating to IPv6.”

Oh what a difference 18 months can make.

Last week was, of course, the official reboot of IPv6, carried out under the auspices of the Internet Society (check out the ISOC page for lots more info here). So I decided it was time to send another inquiry to the feds. It took a few days (okay, this isn’t the New York Times), but this email response really turns things around. Here’s the verbatim, signed by an official in the Office of the President of the Treasury Board:

“The Government of Canada is committed to strong leadership on Information Technology issues.  The adoption of IPv6 will ensure that the Government of Canada and its web presence will remain accessible to citizens, businesses and the world.

The adoption strategy is split into three phases; enabling, deployment, and completion. The first two phases are expected to be completed within the next three years.  This strategy maintains business continuity and minimizes implementation costs during the transition period.  Phase One is expected to be complete by the end of September, 2013.

The Government of Canada’s actions will encourage adoption of IPv6 in Canada and positively influence Canadian suppliers and providers of IPv6 equipment and services.

On June 6, 2012, the Government of Canada launched Phase One, which will develop IPv6 architecture and standards, establish governance bodies, and provide a shared infrastructure which will enable government departments and agencies to begin connecting their public facing websites and applications when they are IPv6 ready.”

One of the developments to watch will be how well the feds coordinate such broad technical changes in the engineering of the Internet with whatever national digital strategy Minister Paradis comes up with later this year. Meanwhile, kudos for developing what now appears to be a serious approach to the disruptive benefits of IPv6.