DOD incubating IPv6 technologies

In tomorrow's global grid, military operations will exist at the far edges of the network. The Defense Dept. is helping to jump start development of truly edge technologies.

The Internet as we know it is the result of commercial products and services build to open standards. But it took the Defense Dept. a little longer to see what was going on. "The DOD was taken by surprise by IPv4," Chris Gunderson, executive director of the World Wide Consortium for the Grid, explains.

The W2COG is a commercial incubator seed-funded by DOD to develop some of the applications and tools that Defense will need for IPv6, Government Computer News reports.

DOD wants to leverage the new global information grid with the same approach that so suprisingly drove the explosion of the current Internet - small pieces loosely joined by open standards.

But "leadership realized that DOD wasn’t wired that way," Gunderson said. "We continue to develop the same capabilities with different vendors again and again and again. That’s why [DOD] felt it needed to invest in an organization like this."

W2COG was formed as a commercial incubator in late 2004 with $1.6 million in DOD seed money and was incorporated in June 2005. It helps the department work with academia and the private sector to develop commercial products for its own net-centric operations.

W2COG's first product is making its way to the field. It's a "ultrawideband, wall-penetrating radar device that could create a security bubble for troops in the field," GCN reports. When an area has been cleared, the device would alert troops if anyone re-entered the area. It should be deployed by May.

W2COG is also working with the IPv6 Forum to support development of next-Internet technologies.

"IPv6 gives us the opportunity to improve current communications capabilities, especially at the edge of the network," where it is needed most in DOD net-centric operations, Gunderson said.

"The small companies hungering at the edge are going to come up with these ideas," Gunderson said. "What we’re providing is a place where you can fail fast and cheap," so successful ideas can quickly be sifted out and developed.

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