IP addresses are typically a very important part of any network and managing them can prove to be quite difficult due to their ever-growing number. As more and more IP addresses are needed for various apps, databases, microservices and other technological advances, managing all necessary IP addresses is becoming extremely important because the ability of devices to establish interoperability and communicate successfully with each other makes all the difference between functional and inaccessible services.
What is IPAM?
We are currently living in a world that depends on the Internet Protocol (IP); the explosion of IP-enabled devices such as smartphones, laptops, tablets and various other devices have made today’s enterprise networks more dynamic and more complex.
IP Address Management (IPAM) is a method of monitoring and managing IP address spaces on a network. IPAM typically integrates with DHCP and DNS services, providing real-time visibility of changes across all systems, and propagates automatic updates when such changes occur in any of these systems.
When it comes to network and computer security, having access to IPAM data may make it easier to detect potential breaches or misuse within a particular infrastructure. IPAM data include information such as used IP addresses, devices to which they are assigned, specific time each was assigned, and the user of a device with the assigned IP address.
Information such as this can be useful in identifying patterns that indicate security breaches or another network misuse. Of course, preventing or eliminating such security issues is of utmost importance for maintaining data integrity and overall health of your network and other systems.
IPAM can also be of assistance when it comes to compliance. Specific internal policies can be implemented using IPAM data and a network access control (NAC) system. For example, before access to your network is granted, NAC can determine – with the help of IPAM information – if your antivirus software is up to date and able to prevent potential attacks or infections from spreading.
Additionally, if you are subject to any regulatory compliance requirements, IPAM can provide assistance in identifying information that can help you to complete the compliance process. For example, if regulation requires that logs are kept by your systems, containing all network IP resources assigned in a given time, the IPAM data can be used to quickly generate such logs in order to establish and maintain compliance with the regulation.
IPAM Network Health
IP address conflicts – duplicate IP addresses in use – are one of the biggest issues that may occur on an enterprise network.
While security and compliance are certainly very important, IPAM is also quite useful in providing you general information on the state of your network and all IP addresses that are in use in any given time. For example, information can be collected on whether a specific IP address is static, dynamic, reserved, or in another status. Additionally, data such as MAC addresses, DHCP leases and hostnames can be collected and viewed together with various other information in order to help you get a comprehensive overview or detailed report on what’s happening in your network.
What IPAM solutions are available?
If your company has not yet adopted an IPAM strategy, this may be the right time to consider such an option. With all these new devices and services requiring IP addresses, tracking all of them across your network without an organized plan can cause a rather big mess. Depending on the size of your enterprise, you may be able to achieve some monitoring and other required functionalities using simplified tools, or you may invest in the right solution that will meet all of your requirements and provide you with features and customization options that your enterprise needs.
If your company and/or network is small enough, you may get away with using an in-house solution for things such as tracking IP addresses in one or more spreadsheets. Of course, if these spreadsheets are not properly managed and maintained, some information may become outdated and therefore useless to someone trying to get a report or analyze potential security or compliance issues. Robust in-house solutions could be deployed in specific cases, such as developing your own reporting system.
As technology changes, so do the employees, making these in-house solutions increasingly more complicated to use and maintain, which is why it may be useful to switch at some point to a system that you can use without worrying about maintenance. A solution managed and maintained by an external vendor can help you establish a simple and up-to-date system that you can use in the long run. Of course, this assumes you invest certain assets and also the time needed to select a vendor that will be around and help you achieve these goals in the long term.
As you can see, each approach has its own advantages, depending primarily on the size and needs of your enterprise, risk assessment, investment opportunities, etc.
IPv4 i IPv6 adresses
Figure 1 – How IPV4 and IPV6 addresses are formed
IPAM for Microsoft – How to optimize efficiency, visibility, and security
Successful management of IT networks is directly correlated to the efficient IP address management (IPAM) system, providing accurate and in-depth IP address-level details.
Specific deficiencies in Microsoft IPAM create inconsistency between the current state of network topology and the information contained in Microsoft Active Directory (AD). This could cause instant outages of basic services such as user authentication and availability of shared resources.
Infoblox IPAM integrates seamlessly with Microsoft AD Sites and Services and eliminates these deficiencies for both AD and network administrators. Furthermore, Infoblox expands granulations and brings the entire Microsoft environment into a centrally managed GUI, offering unique visibility, operational efficiency and service uptime.
If you would like to deploy IPAM or strengthen general security of your DNS infrastructure, feel free to try Infoblox’s leading products from the DNS, DHCP and IPAM solutions segment.