The Government Shared Network could potentially be New Zealand’s first major experiment with the IPv6 internet protocol, offering a vastly expanded address range and better support for more recent media such as multicasting.
A reliable source in government has told Computerworld that the GSN will be built from the beginning to the IPv6 standard, but State Services Commission spokesman Jason Ryan says suppliers were merely requested to provide IPv6-compatible equipment and software.
“You should not necessarily read this as an intention to run IPv6 from the
beginning,” he says.
So the GSN will not begin with the new protocol? “It may not,” Ryan says.
The GSN is intended to provide easy and economical communications within and among government departments. As the conditions in the contract made clear, it will have to run IPv6 sooner or later, and it would make more sense to start with the new protocol than to run the existing IPv4 and have a second change, says the source.
The alleged IPv6 plan would be an example of the government acting as a leader by example to bring New Zealand quickly into the new-style internet world, he says.
Ample solutions have been deployed to interface IPv4 equipment and software to an IPv6 network or vice-versa, including duplicate IP stacks, amended APIs and tunnelling schemes to run IPv4 end-to-end over an IPv6 network.
The Chinese government, for example, is tunnelling in this way over the latest version of Cernet, its wholly-IPv6 equivalent of New Zealand’s proposed advanced research and education network. Cernet has been running IPv6 in testbed and subsequently production mode since 1998.