Industry First IPv6-only Support on Servers and Storage

The origins of the Internet Protocol (IP) can be traced back to the 1970s when researchers at the U.S. Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) were exploring ways to connect different computer networks together. This led to the development of the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) suite, which became the basis for the modern internet and is now crucial in providing the foundation for communication between different devices connected on the internet, enabling communication on a global scale.

Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is the latest version of IP that is designed to replace the previous version, IPv4, that was released in 1981. To put that into perspective, that’s eight years before Sir Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web in 1989, an advancement that revolutionized how we live, work and communicate. This subsequently led to the exponential growth of connected devices as the internet became more ubiquitous. And since each connected device requires its own unique address, this has resulted in IPv4 address exhaustion.

How IPv6 is Changing the Game

While IPv4 allowed for about 4.3 billion unique IP addresses, IPv6 expands this to an almost limitless and incomprehensible number of possible addresses using 128-bit addresses (2128), allowing 340 undecillion, or approximately 3.4 x 1038, unique IP addresses. To explain the size of that number, if every square meter of the Earth’s surface were assigned an IPv6 address, there would be enough addresses to cover the entire surface of the Earth more than seven billion times. So, we don’t see the world running out of IPv6 addresses anytime soon.

Due to the current address limitation of IPv4, organizations have adopted various workarounds, such as Network Address Translation (NAT) and private addressing schemes. These solutions can help alleviate the address limitation but can have a negative impact on network performance.

The U.S. government has strongly advocated for IPv6 adoption and has taken steps to require IPv6-only support in certain circumstances. In 2020, the US government issued OMB M-21-07 directing all federal agencies to enable IPv6-only networks and services starting in 2023, with a goal of being 80% complete by 2025. The directive also acknowledges that IPv6 offers significant benefits in terms of improved network performance, enhanced security and future-proofing. The latest National Cybersecurity Strategy Paper from March 2023 specifically states that steps must be taken to mitigate the slow adoption of IPv6.

The drive to IPv6 is not just restricted to North America, and task force-like groups are emerging worldwide. To help with the global adoption, the IPv6 Forum, a worldwide consortium focused on providing technical guidance for the deployment of IPv6, launched a single worldwide IPv6 Ready Logo Program, a conformance and interoperability testing program intended to increase user confidence by demonstrating that IPv6 is now available and ready to use.

Having completed the multiple steps required, Dell has achieved an industry first by being awarded IPv6 Ready Logos for both PowerEdge servers and the Unity-XT storage products.

But it’s not all about addresses. IPv6 offers several other improvements:

    • Enhanced security. IPv6 provides enhanced security features that are not available in IPv4. For example, IPv6 has built-in support for Internet Protocol Security (IPsec), providing end-to-end encryption and authentication. Additionally, IPv6 includes multiple auto-configuration options, including support for stateless address autoconfiguration (SLAAC) and Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) v6, which can help simplify managing an address. In addition, it adds security by preventing attacks such as DHCP spoofing.
    • Improved network performance. IPv6 provides numerous benefits that can improve network performance. For example, there is a reduced need for the fragmentation of packets, which can help reduce latency and improve network performance. Additionally, IPv6 supports larger packets, which can help reduce overhead and improve network throughput.

Dell’s Industry-first Certification

To uphold these standards and help organizations achieve their adoption goals, Dell PowerEdge servers can now offer IPv6-only support, enabling federal agencies to comply with the government’s directive and take advantage of the many benefits of IPv6.

Through this program, Dell has achieved several key certifications covering both our PowerEdge servers and our Unity-XT storage products.

    • Dell PowerEdge is the first server in the industry to be fully IPv6 Ready Logo 5.1.2 compliant while running Operating Systems Red Hat 8.4 and greater and the applicable versions of Windows 2019 / 2022
    • Dell PowerEdge iDRAC9 with firmware is the 1st BMC to be “IPv6-only” compliant and validated on the USGv6R1 register
    • Unity-XT is the first storage product to meet the USGv6r1 profile capability requirement IPv6-Only Functional v1.1 (36277)

IPv6 is still a relatively new technology, and some customers may not be ready to transition. However, it is our responsibility as a technology leader to push the industry forward and to offer our customers the latest and most advanced technologies. In addition to the benefits of IPv6-only support, Dell PowerEdge servers offer exceptional performance, reliability and security features. With PowerEdge servers, Dell customers can be confident they are getting the best of both worlds: the latest and most advanced technology combined with the exceptional quality and performance for which Dell is known.

In conclusion, we’re proud to be the first company to offer IPv6-only support on our PowerEdge servers and Unity-XT storage products. This is a significant milestone for Dell and the industry, and we’re excited to see the positive impact that it will have on our customers’ networks.

Explore the Dell PowerEdge portfolio of servers here, or if you are looking for more detailed information, take a look at our InfoHub server page.