What is IPAM?

We are currently living in an IP dependent world where IPAM (IP Address Management) has become an inevitable part of network management. Within the span of two short decades, IP has become the lingua franca of virtually all interconnected technology. Network growth and complexity is skyrocketing. Before the explosion of IP-connected devices, IPAM network typically grew with the number of connected users. However, now networks must scale three to five times for each employee based on the number of IP devices we use to do our work. This means the challenge of managing IPAM and securing endpoints has also become much arduous. Without a doubt, the synergy that comes from greater connectivity also creates greater challenges if you’re an IT or security manager. IPAM tools are used to provide essential functionalities for effectively managing IP addresses within a network infrastructure, streamlining allocation, tracking, and monitoring processes.

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What is IPAM? - ManageEngine OpUtils

What is IP address management (IPAM) tool?

IP Address Management (IPAM) refers to a method of IP scanningIP address tracking and managing the information associated with a network's Internet Protocol address space and IPAM system. With IPAM software and IP tools, administrators can ensure that the inventory of assignable IP addresses remains current and sufficient with advanced IP tools and IPAM services. IPAM simplifies and automates the administration of many tasks involved in IP space management, including writing DNS records and configuring DHCP settings. Additional functionality, such as controlling reservations in DHCP as well as other data aggregation and reporting capability, is also common with network IPAM. Hence in today's complex IT environment, effective IP address management is crucial for maintaining network integrity.

Using a spreadsheet to manage IP addresses is never a good idea!

It is not recommended to use spreadsheets to perform IP management duties, no matter the size of the address pool. This method of managing IPAM is not only time-consuming to maintain, but increasingly prone to human error, which can result in erroneous configurations in your network. With the proliferation of non-traditional connected devices such as IoT and BYOD, free IPAM is required more than ever. Non adopters risk losing control of their allocation and introduce bottlenecks which could have catastrophic effects on their network and wider business. As businesses scale, networks grow and the need for a robust IPAM strategy becomes evident, streamlining the process of assigning, tracking, and organizing IP addresses for optimal network functionality. An IPAM solution lets administrators keep up-to-date records of IP assignments and available addresses. Records might include:

  • Free/assigned IP address space
  • Size and users of subnets currently in use
  • Status for each IP address
  • Hostname associated with each IP address
  • Hardware associated with each IP address

Is IP address management (IPAM) solution really necessary?

There are five main reasons why IPAM server is necessary for an organization:

IPAM in networking is the management of DNS and DHCP servers along with the network IP address space. IPAM automatically discovers IPAM network's IP infrastructure, IP address assignments, IP subnets, and can perform IP address resolutions with DNS servers in the IPAM network.

  1. Capacity Planning

    If you're unable to track your address space accurately, then you could probably run out of IP addresses. This would forestall you from simply adding new subscribers and would limit your ability to grow your business. The more IP's you have, the more management of IP is required, and the better will be the growth of your organisation.

  2. Transition to IPv6

    IPAM has become important since the introduction of the newIPv6. An IPv6 uses a 128-bit address, whereas IPv4 follows a 32-bit address scheme. The added complexity of IPv6 means that while an administrator may have once been able to remember an IPv4 address, an IPAM tool is necessary to track all the IPv6 resources. Also, an IPAM solution allows you to catalogue your IPv4 network resources, as well as IPv6 address space.

  3. Management of resources

    A system for organizing IP address space is important because there are only a finite number of IP resources available and these cost money. If you have no IPAM network system to track and manage your IP addresses, issues like IP conflicts will cause serious problems for users. IPAM solutions makes managing the available resources a piece of cake job.

  4. Turn data into information

    IP address management solution has the ability to collect data associated with devices, networks, services and then convert them into a clear picture. IPAM allows users to associate information for all objects in a database so administrators can search, sort and export based on any data.

  5. The needed information

    Network administrators are interested in the IP address space and the resource assigned to each IP address. With IPAM, an administrator can get the meta-information related to a resource such as hostname, device type, physical location, etc from his own location with leisure. Alerts are sent at necessary times and reports with needed information can also be generated easily.

Hence, an IPAM system integrates various features such as IP address assignment, subnet management, DHCP configuration, and DNS management to optimize network administration tasks.

What makes an IPAM software stand out?

With a myriad of IPAM solutions available on the market, network admins need to carefully choose IPAM software that enables effective IP address space monitoring and management. However, identifying the right IP address manager for your IT infrastructure can be confusing given that most tools offering similar IPAM capabilities. So, what makes an IPAM solution stand out from the rest?

Solutions that continually improve and scale with efficiency to adapt to the changing networking landscape help modern IT infrastructures stay ahead of address space issues. Some of the capabilities that make advanced IPAM possible include:

  • Enhanced subnet management

    IPAM software should be able to manage IPv4 and IPv6 addresses in tandem without any additional requirements. It should support various subnetting techniques, such as /32 subnets, and should also allow subnet grouping and group utilization tracking.

  • Supernet monitoring

    Modern networks that are distributed across remote sites and data centers rely on route aggregation to improve network communication efficiency. Supernet monitoring thus becomes a critical IPAM aspect. IPAM software should be able to discover, track, and monitor IP supernets and their associated subnets.

  • Enhanced IP conflict detection

    IP address conflicts can cause havoc in your network when left unmonitored. Deploying an IPAM solution that not only detects an IP conflict but also aids in inspecting details such as the MACs causing the conflict, their DNS status, and location is the need of the hour. These solutions enable you to quickly discover, diagnose, and fix an IP conflict before it can cascade into a costly network issue.

  • IP request streamlining

    Multiple IT operators who provision IPs in their network require access to IP addresses to carry out their day-to-day tasks. They gain access by raising an IP request to the IT admins through channels such as emails or chats, or through other modes of communication. This can lead to disparity between the different IP requests raised and can be difficult to keep track of, which makes it important for organizations to deploy IPAM software that offers built-in IP request creation, tracking, and management.

  • Role-based access controls

    Another problem that arises with multiple IT operators and admins managing your IPAM is their exposure to unauthorized data and controls. Implementing an IPAM solution with role-based access controls ensures that your IT team has enough information and control to carry out their tasks and not be exposed to any unauthorized data. This enables you to secure your IP address space from unauthorized access.

Lousy IP address management has its own dire consequences!

The risks associated with inefficiently managed IP networks include network downtime, lost revenues, dissatisfied customers, and network security and access problems. Improper IP address management causes massive server outage, mass confusion, productivity loss and delays in deployment. A proper IPAM solution must be capable of doing the following:

  • Reporting : Report generation and alerting is a major aspect to be expected in a IPAM solution.
  • Performance: Capability to handle large IP pools or manage busy operations.
  • IPv6 support : No matter where you are in the transition, future-proofing is key.
  • Historical data: Critical when operating in regions with lawful intercept requirements.
  • DHCP and DNS integration : Compatibility with a system already in place.

Points to consider before installing IP address management (IPAM)

When choosing the best IPAM solution for your organization, factors like scalability, ease of use, robustness, and integration capabilities are pivotal considerations for selecting an optimal tool to meet specific network management requirements. Your IP Management tool should support,

1.Ease of use :

The first factor you would like to consider is the ease of use. If IP address management solutions are easy to use, then task performance is probably going to become faster and a lot more efficient.

2.Ease of integration:

The second things you would like to consider is the ease of integration with your current network systems (eg: NMS, DNS, and DHCP). If the systems don't seem to be properly synchronized, errors are likely to happen.

3.Cost efficient:

Lastly, the cost is also a noteworthy consideration. You will be able to choose high end dedicated appliances or free open source systems. It is also important to note that the more you pay the less training and maintenance you've to do.

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With the cost of windows IPAM so low and the stakes so high for technology dependent organisations can a business really afford not to be using it? So, keeping all of these advantages of OpUtils in mind, why not try the free demo or download a free edition and take advantage of all that the ManageEngine OpUtils has to offer?

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