Nibbles & Bits

5 Things to Look for in Cross-Network Configuration Management Tools

by | April 23, 2013

Cross Network Configuration

For carriers and hosting providers, a whole new level of network complexity has been added because large segments of their customers—and their customers’ customers—have unplugged desktops in favor of mobile devices.  In 2012, smartphone sales surpassed those of laptops for the first time, and the trend is still accelerating.  With many users employing more than one device to access the Internet, the number of devices requiring IP addresses is exploding. Cisco estimates that the number of IP-enabled mobile devices surpassed the human population last year and will exceed 10 billion, or 1.4 devices per person, by 2016.

This growth has huge implications for service providers’ ability to configure and manage their networks. Function- or vendor-specific configuration management tools have become highly inefficient, as the mix and total population of devices connecting to the network is now in constant flux. Continued reliance on tools tied to a specific device type or vendor quickly leads to a multiplicity of tools that network managers must learn to use and which require maintenance and management themselves.

Even more fundamentally, using multiple tools is too time-consuming because they need to be used discretely, which means common cross-network operations such as IP address assignment and provisioning can’t be automated.

Deploying software that automatically manages configuration changes to different devices across the network is a far more efficient and reliable solution. Taking this approach improves service levels and liberates operational staffs from a growing horde of routine but critical housekeeping chores. Here are things to consider when selecting a cross-network configuration management solution:

A flexible platform: Seek a solution that provides a flexible, adaptable platform that can conform to the service provider’s configuration requirements and process. This ensures a more rapid deployment and avoids a “force fit” situation in which people and processes must adapt to the new tools.

Vendor-agnostic software: Look for a vendor-agnostic solution that can work with your current set of management tools with which your staff is already familiar. You want to avoid any sort of “rip and replace” scenario.

Comprehensive support for IPv6 and DNSSEC:  Choose a solution that provides more than simple address tracking.  Look for functions such as auto-subnetting, which simplifies configuration issues and eliminates common problems such as double assigning the same IP address, and address block tracking, which can replace ad hoc address assignments based on immediate operational requirements with address allocation policies based on service and customer priorities.  Complementary technologies like Regional Internet Registry (RIR) integration and support for multiple DNS server technologies give you flexibility as your infrastructure changes – but don’t result in additional work for your own operational team.

Rapid provisioning: Only consider automated configuration systems that reduce the time needed for common tasks, such as assigning a block of IP addresses, by a minimum of 80 percent.  This will maximize your productivity gains.

SaaS and local service options: Work with vendors whose software can be deployed as either a hosted, SaaS-based service, or locally behind your own firewall. Either way, make sure the software can be deployed quickly—in a matter of weeks, not months. This gives you maximum latitude, allowing you to choose the model that best supports your own financial and operational requirements.

What combination of configuration management tools do you rely on?

“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
viewquest

“We are excited to be partnering with 6connect to leverage their technology and talent. We particularly admire their long-standing IPv6 contributions and their ability to service and support customers in this area, some who are the largest service provider in the world. The 6connect executive leadership team and technical team are great to work with and we look forward to many partnered projects to help customers address their Cloud, IoT and Security needs with IPv6. Automation, workflow and orchestration are critical to the success of most of these projects and 6connect is well positioned to help our mutual customers in those areas.”

Ed Horley
Co-Founder & CEO
HexaBulid

“Enterprises can struggle managing purposefully segmented DDI architectures with any agility. Our partnership with 6connect empowers customers with complex infrastructures to move faster to service the business while consolidating visibility and control over their estate.”

Andrew Wertkin
Chief Strategy Officer,
BlueCat

“6connect’s approach to automation addresses quite a few challenges with physical and virtual networks – how to improve the agility of your current network infrastructure without sacrificing reliability and adoption of future network technologies.”

Pär Lange
Investment Director
SwissCom

“A customer is looking for an integrated solution from a single vendor for both IPAM and DNS. Through the 6connect reseller program, Secure64 is able to offer the most secure DNS solutions married to a unique combination of IPAM and resource provisioning that customers want. It’s a marriage made in heaven.”

Mark Beckett
VP of Marketing
Secure64

“A huge benefit of working with the 6connect team is that they devoted a lot of resources to get our products integrated so we had the turnkey solution that we could take to market. It was very easy to work with their team to get product integrated and successfully launched.”

Mark Beckett
VP of Marketing
Secure64

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