IP Address Management, Part I: Agility and Integration
The ability to deploy new equipment and services in a timely and cost-effective manner – a quality known as network agility– is crucial to maintaining profitability. Bottlenecks that hinder deployment, reduce performance, or result in downtime add cost to every operation. For example, managing thousands of IP addresses by hand creates bottlenecks when provisioning and troubleshooting as well as increases the possibility of service outages caused by human error.
The growing complexity of networks further increases the difficulty of managing today’s networks. Operators must accommodate new types of servers and clients, potentially from multiple vendors. TCP/IP continues to connect more devices, resulting in a higher cost to manage each new device as the number of devices added to the network increases. Furthermore, new technologies like IPv6, virtualization, cloud services, and mobile connectivity which increase management complexity drive the need for comprehensive, integrated, and feature-rich IP address management (IPAM) capabilities.
Agility enables organizations to cut operating expenses by enabling new ways to identify waste, expense, and risk in everyday network management processes. However, organizations can only be as agile as their IP infrastructure can support. To increase operational efficiency and build a network that responds quickly to changing business needs, operators need to optimize their workflow by reducing task steps and eliminating manual input where possible. This is achieved by centralizing IP address space management while automating many common management tasks, including discovery of devices, IP address allocation, reconciliation of IP addresses, and support for both IPv4 and IPv6 within the same network. Operators will also need to be able to manage all IP allocation-related tasks from a single point of access.
By responding faster and with greater accuracy to dynamic provisioning requirements, operators can lower operating costs and improve the customer experience as well as realize reliable virtualization, cloud, and IPv6 services. For example, many vendors treat emerging technologies as problems or exceptions that need to be managed separately from the rest of the network using specialized tools that have not been designed to work with the existing management system. Integrating IP address management capabilities as part of the everyday management workflow allows operators to provide next-generation services faster and support on-demand scalability.
Next time I’ll give an example of how to create a more efficient workflow.