Evaluating IPAM Solutions

By Tuan Nguyen
Sunset Learning Institute Cisco Specialized Instructor
Feb 2015

Recently, while I was working out in the field as a consultant for a Global Nutrition Firm, they were using the product called Infoblox to manage their DNS services, DHCP services, and IP addresses from a single location.

The customer has the LAN at the main campus and remote sites and the WAN connectivity linking over 90 different countries worldwide. Among other activities, the IT infrastructure team assigns and manages IP addresses for the entire global network.

Before Infoblox, the IT team had been performing IP Address Management (IPAM) using spreadsheets, which didn’t scale well as the company grew. Supporting an ever-growing and fluctuating range of IP addresses became increasingly difficult, particularly as employees around the globe added voice over IP (VoIP) phones, laptops, and their own mobile devices to the network.

They began facing some challenges. For example, when an IT system manager logged into a spreadsheet, it became locked, and other managers had to wait to use it, causing backlogs and delays. Additionally, IP addresses might be reserved or assigned but not yet entered into the spreadsheet, making it difficult to identify the device, its purpose, the IT owners, and the business users.

Another challenge emerged after the company moved to a virtualized environment. Using a spreadsheet to manually assign and document IP addresses for new servers was fine when it took a week to build and deploy a physical machine. But with the company deploying five or six new virtual servers each day, the organization needed a much quicker way to manage the addresses.

The IT team was quick to point out that the entire infrastructure was managed by only a few individuals. This meant that a new IPAM solution had to make address management simpler and more efficient for the system managers.

The IT team had three key requirements for the IPAM solution:

As a lean IT organization, they wanted to run IPAM on a dedicated box that was completely supported so that maintenance of the solution would not fall on the small internal team. A web-based solution was essential for streamlining the IP management process. The company also needed a solution that could keep up with growth and meet additional network management needs in the future.

Since Infoblox IPAM technology is available on both purpose-built physical appliances and a variety of virtual platforms, it was the logical choice to meet the company’s need for a combined hardware and software solution. The IT team also liked the range of network services—including Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP), Domain Name System (DNS), Network Time Protocol (NTP), and Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP)—that the Infoblox appliance provides in the same box, capabilities the IT team could use moving forward.

The result is that the IT team says that Infoblox IPAM technology simplifies IP address management and delivers significant time savings. The team can now manage IP addresses more easily worldwide and can assign them more quickly for rapid deployment of virtual servers. The IT team has enhanced its ability to support business growth—without increasing headcount. The DHCP, DNS, NTP, and TFTP services are ready to be activated as needed.

The new solution will also help speed the documentation process for Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) qualification. As a biotech manufacturer, the company must meet GMP requirements for medical and pharmaceutical manufacturing and testing, some of which directly affect network management.

According to the IT team, manageability is now on par with the needs of a growing global company. Infoblox IPAM enables the IT team administrators to enforce prerequisites for obtaining each IP address, including all of the ownership information. As this biotech company continues its mission of advancing therapeutics and improving lives, its product portfolio and workforce will continue to grow along with its global IT needs. With the Infoblox appliance in place and the IT team observed, the network staff is well prepared for the future.

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