Nibbles & Bits

Cloud-Based IPAM Solutions: The Coming Thing

by | July 13, 2020

Big Thing

Internet Protocol Address Management (IPAM) has emerged as the most important function of network management for service providers and enterprises alike. The reasons are pretty simple: Internet usage continues to grow, the number of online devices is not slowing down, and IP addresses are required for all these elements to be identified and controlled.

Not too long ago, an employee or a consumer used a single PC or workstation and accessed the Net via a single IP address, which was manually assigned and tracked on a spreadsheet. Today, the typical employee is no longer going to always be in the same place, using the same device and will be using a variety of applications, both local and cloud and with multiple devices. At the same time, the growth in IPv6, virtualization and mobile devices has exponentially increased the number of IP addresses to be managed.

I know what you are thinking – “But $author, don’t scalable technologies like DHCP and SLAAC solve these connectivity challenges automagically?”. It is here that we say “I am sorry $reader, but that’s not where IP addresses come from.” Unfortunately, many environments still rely on spreadsheets of values that get manually pasted into scripts and/or config files. Yes – we truly live in the future where legacy tools still provide the magic behind our infrastructure. This leaves network administrators with tough choices to modernize their tools in the face of minimizing disruptions to revenue generating services.

So today, an automated IPAM platform that eliminates addressing errors and accelerates service provisioning time is clearly part of any technical strategy.  Still, there’s an open question—should the service provider or enterprise deploy the IPAM suite itself, locally, behind its firewall?  Or should it make use of a SaaS-based service that provides IPAM via the Cloud? How does service delivery work effectively?

While allowing for exceptional scenarios when some combination of regulatory, governance, and security requirements necessitate a local implementation, Cloud-based IPAM solutions are a valid option for a variety of organizations.  Here’s our reasoning:

Reduce your CAPEX

IPAM shouldn’t require a ton of infrastructure, but it does require some. Why take on that additional overhead if you don’t have to? Whether you want a fully hosted solution or hybrid, a true Cloud-based IPAM solution will have you covered and permit a variety of federation models and deployment methods that don’t require up front costs.

Reduce your OPEX

IPAM will dramatically reduce your operating costs however you choose to deploy it. But a SaaS-based solution will reduce them further.  Keep in mind that when you deploy a new IPAM solution, you will have two options: One is where you “rip and replace”, requiring new training, workflows and documentation, Two is “use in place” where depending on the integration options available in your budget, may significantly reduce the retraining side by being a behind the scenes change. In either approach, you still reduce the need to maintain, patch, or upgrade it—so there is a tremendous value there if done correctly.

Reduce your footprint

Data center space costs money. The cost of energy is increasing. Servers hosting applications cost more to operate than to purchase over their lifetime. Savings by going to a Cloud-based implementation are real and reduce the need for infrastructure.  Your service provider benefits from economies of scale and passes on some of those savings to you.

Ease your deployment

We already said this, but it’s worth repeating: If you’ve been tracking your IP addresses manually for 10 years or more, your logs and entries might not be all that they should be.  Your SaaS provider (if you choose the right one) will have tools to quickly verify your address blocks, to identify bad addresses, and to screen for double-assigns. This will save you grief, time, and money. Data normalization is a key step to a successful implementation – it’s not all CSVs and rainbows.

Capacity on demand

IPv6 is here!  The number of addresses to manage is going to the moon.  That said, it won’t happen all at once.  Why pay for capacity now that you won’t need until two years from now?  A Cloud-based service gives you room to grow and takes the pain out of doing it. When evaluating solutions, make sure to understand how IPv6 plays into their pricing model. If you roll out IPv6, does that cost extra? Does it involve a change to your workflows? Does it even work correctly? With the historical focus on IPv4 subnets, IPv6 can be a checklist item. It is worth confirming these scenarios with IPv6 even if you haven’t deployed it yet so you don’t find yourself deployed to an IPAM service that can’t grow with you.

6connect is an industry leader in automated network provisioning. See how ProVision can make your networks manageable and scalable.

“We decided to move our rather complex IP address and DHCP management process to ProVision and it has worked out great for us!! The team at 6connect were very flexible and went above and beyond to accommodate our requirements and helped to make the migration as smooth and hitch free as possible. Kudos to the team @ 6connect!”

Premkumar Subramaniam
Head of R&D
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