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Government’s Journey to IPv6

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend and present at the 2015 North American IPv6 Summit. Several hundred IPv6 experts and networking professionals attended from across the country to discuss the IPv6 adoption, hear about the latest IPv6 research and learn what others are doing to prepare for the transition to IPv6.

To refresh, IPv6 is the next-generation Internet Protocol (IP), the communications protocol that provides identification for computers on networks and allows computers to talk to each other. The existing Internet Protocol, IPv4, has a finite number of IP addresses, limiting the number of devices that can be given a new address. In fact, the free pool held by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) was depleted in 2011 and the American Registry of Internet Numbers (ARIN) has less than 3.5 million IP addresses left, a supply so small it could be completely exhausted by June of this year. IPv6’s large number of new IP addresses make it a foundational building block for the future of the Internet, especially as increasingly more devices become connected as part of the Internet of Things (IoT).

U.S. Government Should Lead

It’s not just that government agencies should be migrating to IPv6 themselves, it’s that they should be leading that charge given our history. Public Internet was born through the U.S. government, and as Internet leaders, we need to continue to be at the forefront of the Internet’s evolution. Currently, Belgium is leading the world in IPv6 capability with 49 percent adoption. By comparison, the United States is at 35 percent.

The U.S. government has issued several mandates and deadlines to facilitate the IPv6 migration among agencies. The most recent one in 2014 called for all government agencies provide IPv6 connectivity to their user community. However, despite the mandate deadlines, many government agencies are struggling to make the switch. Out of over 1,200 federal agency websites, less than 500 are IPv6 enabled. It’s time for the U.S. government to start leading this necessary transition.

Why Migrate Today?

Beyond simply providing more IP addresses, there are business benefits to transitioning for both private and public sector organizations. IPv6 will enable organizations to take advantage of numerous opportunities presented by IoT and the Internet of Everything (IoE) – the networked connection of people, devices, data and processes. For instance, future Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies need to be IPv6 enabled as new devices will automatically be IPv6 connected. Further, IPv6 will allow agencies to achieve value from future connections to help optimize business functions, support mobile workforces, improve security and enhance citizen services.

There will be an estimated 50 billion connected devices by 2020, which means migration is not an option – it’s a necessity given how few IPv4 addresses remain. If your organization is not IPv6 enabled, you won’t be able to connect natively with these new devices. In order improve network operations and processes in the future, private and public sector organizations will need to transition to IPv6.

So, why are some organizations and agencies putting off migrating? Simple – because change is scary. Organizations have been managing the legacy protocol for over 30 years, and there is uncertainty that comes with transitioning to something different. Also, many don’t fully understand the big picture benefits. By getting hung up on potential deployment challenges, IT managers and network engineers overlook the fact that their organizations won’t be able to leverage the power of IoE tomorrow unless they start transitioning to IPv6 today.

Create Your IPv6 Transition Plan

So what can government do to start leading the switch to IPv6? Below are five key steps to migrating to IPv6:

  1. Identify the business value and impact.
  2. Create a project team of IT professionals, technical business owners and an assigned project manager to manage progress and address any outstanding issues.
  3. Engage in assessment of equipment and assets for infrastructure readiness.
  4. Develop architectural solutions.
  5. Test, monitor and deploy IPv6.

As an industry leader in IP technology and pioneer of IPv6 technology since its beginning in 1996, Cisco is well positioned to assist government in this process from beginning to end. We have experts that can help your organization walk through each step above; from evaluating IPv6 readiness to offering deployment services, our IPv6 can expertise has helped organizations save time, money and resources. In addition, we have the widest range of platforms and features for IPv6 compared to any other vendor, which enables us to provide customized solutions sets to meet the needs of customers.

Ultimately, IPv6 is the global plan of record for a sustainable, scalable Internet, and public sector organizations need to migrate to continue improving operations and meet citizens’ needs. Click here to learn more about the IPv6 transition and how Cisco can help.

 

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The shift in Education towards Mobile Learning

Technology is important to children in terms of how they learn and how they live. A challenge for many school districts is the ability to offer a mobile learning by putting digital resources in a student’s hands with constrained funding for education.

mobile learning

Katy Independent School District located in Katy TX needed a wireless infrastructure that would support this vision. With over 62,000 students, Katy ISD needed to move from a wireless network that was built for coverage to a network that is built for density. By providing 802.11ac-based Wi-Fi access points in classrooms and outdoor locations and centralized management, the school district is supporting more than 40,000 concurrent Wi-Fi users and empowering faculty, students and staff. Read More »

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A Wider View of Collaboration – and its Benefits

“Collaboration” usually means “people working together productively by sharing voice, video, and data”. Inside Cisco, the standard idea of Collaboration includes a lot of IT Technology, like:

  • all voice-based Unified Communication (that is, all IP Telephony from hardware and software phones, and all Unity voicemail, and all Contact Centers)
  • all Video conferencing (from Jabber or WebEx clients, video phones, desktop video, room TP, and immersive TP),
  • all streaming video like Cisco TV (IP/TV) for large multicast events, and
  • software clients like email, web sites and blog sites and document repository sites, Jabber IM, voice and video, and WebEx voice, video and data

But sometimes Collaboration means more. For example, Cisco IT likes to say that we “enable people to collaborate with any device, from anywhere, at any time” which really expands the scope of collaboration. Read More »

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Cisco Annual Security Report 2015: Secure Access for Defending Against Threats

Cisco recently published their Annual Security Report (ASR) for 2015 and there was quite a bit of interesting information on what happened in 2014, but also trends for 2015. We saw the rise in the number of highly publicized attacks in 2014 and the fact that C-Level Executives are under a lot of pressure to improve the security of their networks and protect sensitive client data. While attackers have always targeted IT users, in 2015 the trend is shifting where the primary target is to take advantage of user behaviors to breach the network. This last point is important because once the user has been compromised or their credentials have been lifted, the attacker then has access to anything important that is connected. The Cisco 2015 ASR shows that only 43% of organizations leverage identity administration and provisioning to properly secure their networks and data. This means that over half of organizations don’t know who is accessing their networks, where they’re going or coming from, or what they’re using and if it is even authorized based on business policy. As we all know, once someone unauthorized gets inside it can be challenging to track down the incursion and negate the threat.

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Reducing the Attack Surface: Takeaways from the 2015 Annual Security Report

As the Cisco 2015 Annual Security Report shows, current security approaches aren’t sufficient. Attackers are shifting methods and becoming more sophisticated in their approaches, users are unwittingly complicit enablers, and defenders struggle to keep up with all of these things. It is time for defenders to take a different approach to security that not only outwits attackers but also makes security a competitive advantage that enables business growth.

By taking a threat-centric and operational approach to security, organizations can reduce complexity and fragmentation, while providing superior visibility, continuous control, and advanced threat protection across the extended network and the entire attack continuum.

Using Cisco technology, this approach is enabled by broad visibility for superior intelligence across the extended network, where all the solutions a customer deploys communicate with each other. Organizations using siloed solutions will have holes in their security. Siloed solutions do not provide full protection since they do not communicate with one another, thus leaving security gaps and the inability to create actionable intelligence.

Cisco can provide a holistic solution to this problem by reducing the attack surface and extending protection across the network – before, during and after attacks.

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