My – how research has changed in the 20 years I have been working in IT and high-tech! Normally, you would have to scour reams and reams of articles in trade rags delivered via snail mail to find information relevant to your work. Now we have the ability to set alerts, custom feeds and create targeted searches to find many more ‘diamonds in the rough’ than was even possible 10 years ago.
Given this preface, I’d like to share some insight into why you need IP Address Management (IPAM). I myself didn’t see this need as a system administrator many years ago as the Internet was still in its infancy — there were plenty of IP addresses to go around. In fact, the university where I worked had been allocated a full class B range of public IP address (65k of them). We were literally swimming in IP address that would never be used.
Contrast that work environment with today: the IPv4 address space of just over 4 billion IPv4 addresses is gone. IPv6 (3.4 x 1038 addresses) is gaining traction with sites like Facebook, Google, YouTube, Bing, and Yahoo! all enabling IPv6 access on their main websites. June 6, 2012 was the 2nd World IPv6 Launch Day, including participation from Akamai, Comcast, AT&T, Cisco and others. Many companies are still slow to adopt IPv6, but it’s coming as IT departments try and figure out how and when to deploy it. Finally, contributing to the perfect storm of IPAM is the overly hyped trend (in my opinion) of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in the workplace. Personal opinions aside, the reality is that this trend causes the need for IPAM more than ever.
Many workers in today’s workforce have at least a corporate laptop and a personal smartphone. Move up the corporate food chain, and that worker profile now includes a corporate smartphone, and possibly a tablet device. Thus, one person could very likely account for four wireless devices, each contending for IP addresses across the environment (and, according to Cisco, this average could be seven devices by 2015!). Since mobile device carriers are working harder to rid themselves of “unlimited” data plans, mobile device users are becoming more sensitive to the associated costs of their mobile plans and attempt to get free Wi-Fi whenever possible. The corporate network today is now providing this service to their users, whether they know it or not. My question to you is – do you have a handle on not only IP address management, but also where your bandwidth is going?
IPAM is a booming section of the Network Management arena. According to a recent Cisco survey, by just 2015, there will be almost 15 billion network-connected devices – a little less than three times the world population. A recent Global Industry Analyst report mentions that the global market for IP Address Management is projected to reach US$3.4 billion by 2018. With these forecasts, the question is not if, but when will you take control of the devices attaching to your network? Many IT administrators are managing their IP space via manual technology, namely spreadsheets. It’s time to exit from last-century technology and use automated methods to discover and manage your IP space!
Tools such as Ipswitch’s WhatsUp IP Address Manager offer automatic discovery of your IP space, and allow you to make asset-related notes to remind you why you did something, or who owns a specific IP address. WhatsUp Flow Monitor also determines where your precious bandwidth is going and eliminates those abuses from the system. Ignorance is no longer bliss – it’s costing you and your company money. It’s time to take control of your IP address space – and the time is now.