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IPv6 Test Methods: General Description and Validation



J. S. Nightingale


The USG profile for IPv6 specifies requirements for host, router and network protection devices (NPD) and this document specifies the validation requirements for test methods and test specifications used to test these devices. It has become the practice for networked devices to be subjected to two different types of testing, for Interoperability and for conformance. In a mature network, Interoperability is prioritized over conformance, since the ability to communicate with the installed base is paramount. As a prudent step to secure procedurally correct testing, we are recommending that testing be done in laboratories accredited to ISO 17025. That standard refers to general testing requirements and so this document specifies the technical test methods involved in IPv6 device testing. This embraces both the conduct of each type of testing and the validation of test methods. The bedrock of each testing framework is a set of published test specifications, traceable to the protocol specifications. Abstract Test Specifications are initially validated against protocol specifications or standards. This is necessarily an informal heuristic step, as the RFCs underlying the profile are informally written in natural language text. Even so, this process gives some confidence in the integrity of the Abstract Test Specifications so that executable test methods can be validated by the lab, against these abstract test procedures. Conformance, Interoperability and network protection device (NPD) testing have different traceability chains, and these are further detailed in the document. Tests, like software, are always works in progress. In continuous operation there will be bugs, and confusions of interpretation. In order to converge on a truly interoperable community, it is necessary that tests be maintained in synchronization across all participating laboratories, and test interpretations be agreed among laboratories and test method suppliers.
Special Publication (NIST SP) - 500-273
Report Number


IPv6, Conformance Testing, Interoperability Testing, Network Protection, Firewall, Accreditation, Test Laboratory, Traceability, Product Compliance


Nightingale, J. (2009), IPv6 Test Methods: General Description and Validation, Special Publication (NIST SP), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed May 22, 2024)


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Created November 29, 2009, Updated March 1, 2021