Delivering a more effective network: the case for a best practice IPAM strategy

Tools such as Address Resolution Protocols (ARP) and spreadsheets are no longer sufficient to identify and respond to dynamic changes and evolving threats.

Optimising the management of network services can, however, still be achieved by deploying a best practice IP address management (IPAM) strategy.

On a basic level, a best practice IPAM strategy should identify everything attached to an organisation’s network that has an IP address.

More importantly, the strategy must be able to deliver a complete, thorough and accurate inventory of everything that is connected to an organisation’s network. This is essential if the network is to remain healthy.

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It is crucial to all tasks in IT service delivery to have a clear understanding of exactly what is connected to the network.

The desktop teams, who are responsible for administering and managing internal user resources, need to understand what networks exist, what is connected to them, and how they are organised.

The server teams need a clear picture of what servers are on the network, and what services each of these servers deliver. This is has never been more important than with the recent expansion into virtual environments and the cloud.

And the modern network teams have a full time job just managing these complex and dynamic networks, without the additional demands from the security, server and desktop teams.

A best practice IPAM strategy can help these other teams become more self-sufficient and make a significant difference to the day-to-day tasks of the network team.

The ability to identify hosts according to criteria such as the model, operating system, type of software running or region, could allow these teams to respond quickly to the constantly evolving needs of the modern network, and also help them address issues that may affect similar groups of hosts.

With the dynamic nature of today’s IT environments, where new devices constantly come and go, inventory needs to be continuously maintained in as close to real time as possible.

This could be achieved without the need for human intervention with a best practice IPAM strategy, by ensuring that the picture remains accurate through continuous updates as the network changes. 

No two networks are the same. Each network needs to ensure that its best practice IPAM strategy uniquely reflects the natural structure of the organisation to which it applies. It is important to properly model the strategy on a specific network so that searches and address changes make more sense.

Furthermore, the information contained in virtual devices will have as great an impact on network management as that held by their physical counterparts. This data, which includes information on virtual machines such as IP and MAC address, OS and virtual hostname, also needs to be integrated into the IPAM database.

Finally, carrying out searches based on an organisation’s specific requirements, using a variety of historical data, will allow administrators to generate reports which will allow them to track issues and progress towards optimising the network and all its connected devices.

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By using the search-and-action tools provided by a best practice IPAM strategy, security teams will easily be able to find, identify and isolate issues. This will massively reduce both response times and their workloads.

Implementing a best practice IPAM strategy will offer benefits to both the organisation and its individual teams. The visibility, improved efficiency and enhanced data accuracy that such a strategy delivers is essential to the effectively management of today’s dynamic IT networks.


Sourced from Rick Bylina, Infoblox

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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