Statistics show that IT pro’s spend on average 38 hours each month managing IP addresses (even more for larger networks of 5,000 IP’s or more). More specifically, you spend a considerable amount of your day provisioning changes, monitoring faults, and troubleshooting problems. (SolarWinds® IT Pro Survey)
Your IP management in-basket probably stays pretty full by virtue of the fact that technology doesn’t stand still. Networks grow and manual management methods such as spreadsheets are becoming less practical. As you look toward more advanced DNS, DHCP, and IP address (DDI) management solutions, strongly consider adopting the following DDI best practices for effectively managing both IPv4 and IPv6 address blocks.
Transition to an Automated IP Management System - Automated Scanning & Discovery
The biggest disadvantage of manual IP address management (i.e. spreadsheets and management system databases) is the amount of time required to keep your documentation updated, which takes a toll on overall productivity. Manual IP management methods:
- Have no change management system.
- Inhibit IT team collaboration.
- Are difficult to implement, oversee, and update.
- Require more time and effort for troubleshooting.
An automated system saves time, reduces risk of human errors, and takes the guess work out of your IP address space management. An automated tool automatically scans, discovers, and updates your IP status and usage information in real time. An automated tool:
- Includes active IP space and network monitoring.
- Helps detect IP conflicts in the network.
- Compiles historical data of IP address usage.
- Manages DHCP and DNS servers on an organization-wide basis.
- Helps simplify the transition from IPv4 to IPv6.
Manually tracking IP address usage is becoming less practical for organizations of all sizes. Trends such as BYOD, IoT, and Server Virtualization have greatly increased the consumption of IP addresses. Therefore, it’s apparent that automated IP address management is a more reliable way of tracking IP address usage.
Configure IP Address Lease Durations Based on IP Usage and Availability - Planning & Provisioning
All DHCP servers are configured with a lease configuration that contains information on the duration for which an IP address is leased out to a particular device/client. The DHCP server leases the IP to the client for a preset length of time and the client can automatically renew the lease further, if required. The lease duration has a direct impact on IP consumption in the network. Consider this fact when you configure the duration of leases.
For example, when a client leases an IP address, it retains ownership of the IP for the specified lease period. If the client needs the IP address for only a few minutes and the lease time is set to a few days, the IP remains tied up when it’s actually not being used. Here are a few tips for ensuring that IP addresses are used efficiently:
- Set the DHCP server lease terms based on the types of clients that the DHCP server services.
- Keep the lease duration for the DHCP server that services BYOD relatively short (i.e. a few hours).
- Try to keep the lease durations of the mobile/wireless devices coming in and out of your network short.
- Ensure that your DNS servers are updated with all of the leases, lease renewals, and lease expirations.
Proactively Identify IP Conflicts or Utilization - Monitoring, alerting, & Troubleshooting
You actually serve two purposes when you actively monitor your network: Avoid network performance issues and troubleshoot problems. This helps keep you aware of situations that can cause network downtime or slow employee productivity. Active monitoring adds a layer of security by detecting occurrences such as the presence of a rogue device on the network or an unrecognized MAC address in that subnet.
Obviously, you want to make sure that your reservoir of IP addresses never runs dry so you can ensure that all end-users can connect to the network. Tracking IP address consumption over time helps you project the eventual depletion of your IP addresses and make the necessary plans. Also, being alerted about events like IP conflicts, full scopes, DNS record mismatches, etc. is helpful for effective IP management.
Performing all these tasks using an IP management solution makes your IP address management life easier. A tool that tightly couples DNS and DHCP keeps you more organized because IP addresses and DNS records are updated simultaneously, which prevents problems resulting from outdated host records. Also, make sure that your IP management tool can function as a management layer that provides reliable interoperability between heterogeneous DNS and DHCP solutions.
Read this whitepaper to know more about best practices for configuring & monitoring DHCP, DNS, and IP addresses.