Technology alone will not suffice

Editorial Type: Technology Focus Date: 01-2015 Views: 1,735 Tags: Networking, Infoblox
Rick Bylina, senior manager of product strategy at Infoblox explains the benefits of a best practice IPAM strategy as the foundation for a technology aided solution

The growth in complexity arising from rapidly expanding networks means that managing IP tasks has become more critical than ever. Add to this the fact that complexity renders those same critical tasks increasingly difficult to accomplish with any speed, efficiency, or effectiveness.

Network administrators can no longer rely on traditional tools such as spreadsheets and Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) tables to effectively identify and respond to dynamic changes and increasing threats within their IT environment. An IP address management (IPAM) strategy could be the answer, because it can optimise the management of core network services.

An authoritative IPAM strategy empowers everyone who directly or indirectly deals with an organisation's network, delivering benefit to IT teams and the business. Employing a best practice IPAM strategy establishes a foundational element for the running of a healthy network by delivering a complete, accurate and thorough inventory of connected end points, past and present.

With the never-ending addition and removal of network devices, the inventory of such a dynamic environment must be continuously maintained in near real-time. Using a best practice IPAM strategy to manage this without the need for human intervention ensures that a consistently updated and accurate picture of the network is maintained, even while changes occur.

Identifying and understanding everything with an IP address that is connecting to an organisation's network rests at the heart of effective IT service delivery. Desktop teams, for example, managing and administering internal user resources, need to understand what user networks exist, how they're organised and what's connected.

Server teams need a similarly clear picture of the server estate connected to the network and the services being delivered. Such visibility has only become more important with the recent developments in cloud services and virtual environments. Furthermore, the management of complex and dynamic network environments has become a full-time job in itself. The constant demands from desktop, server and security teams only increase the workload of network teams.

It's clear then that any level of self-sufficiency that a best practice IPAM strategy can offer these teams can only improve the operations of those charged with managing the network. If teams are able to identify hosts by different criteria, such as operating system, region, hostname, type of software or model, then they will be able to respond more quickly and address issues arising that may affect similar groups of hosts.

No two networks are the same, so at the same time as delivering an accurate and up-to-date inventory, a best practice IPAM strategy should mirror the natural structure of the organisation to which it applies. By properly modelling the strategy on a specific network, administrators will find that any searches and address changes they carry out will make far more sense.

The increasingly common use of virtual devices must also be considered. The relating information is equally impactful on network management as that concerned with their physical equivalents. A best practice IPAM strategy requires that information held on virtual machines, such as operating systems, IP and MAC addresses, and virtual hostnames, should also be integrated into an organisation's IPAM database so as to provide a complete and accurate picture.

Finally, administrators should be able to carry out searches using historical data, based on specific requirements. This enables the generation of reports from which administrators can track issues and optimise their networks and the connected devices. The improved visibility and efficiency, along with the enhanced data accuracy delivered by a best practice IPAM strategy, means that its benefits will be felt by the organisation as a whole, as well as by individual IT teams who will be better able to manage their highly dynamic networks. NC