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Cisco, Juniper conduct trial of fed’s IPv6 tests

The University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory in July conducted the first trial of the U.S. federal government's new IPv6 test suite on equipment from 10 leading network vendors, including Cisco, Juniper, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Sun.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is launching a new IPv6 compliance testing program called USGv6 Test Program. All routers, hosts and network security systems must pass the USGv6 Test Program by July 2010 in order to be sold to U.S. federal agencies.

IPv6 is the long-anticipated upgrade to the Internet's main communications protocol, known as IPv4. IPv6 features vastly more address space, built-in security and enhanced support for streaming media and peer-to-peer applications. Available for a decade, IPv6 has been slow to catch on in the United States. Now that unallocated IPv4 addresses are expected to run out in 2011, the pressure is on U.S. carriers and corporations to deploy IPv6 in the next few years.

UNH-IOL held its test event in conjunction with NIST from July 13-17. The event allowed vendors to pre-test the USGv6 test specifications, provide input to the development of the test specifications and prepare for passing the tests in the first half of next year.

The test event “was to work on the NIST test specifications,’’ says Erica Johnson, Director of UNH-IOL. “We were making sure that the test cases made sense…Another goal of the event was to inform the vendors about the USGv6 Test Program. A lot of the vendors had no idea what the program was and what was going to be required of them.’’

The NIST IPv6 test plan covers basic IPv6 functionality as well as related standards such as: IP Security (IPsec), Internet Key Exchange (IKEv2), Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCPv6), Open Shortest Path First (OSPFv3), Border Gateway Protocol (BGP4+) and multicast requirements in MLDv2.

Timothy Winters, Senior Manager at UNH-IOL, said the test event participants found that they need to create more test cases for IPv6 features such as IKEv2, multicast and OSPFv3.

“We ran into a lot of configuration issues,’’ Winters said. “We ran into a lot of issues related to support for security features.’’

Nonetheless,Winters said that NIST is “more than three quarters of the way there’’ with its IPv6 test suite. “In November, NIST will be able to point to all the different specifications and test cases that need to be run.’’

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