Your IP Infrastructure is like oxygen for your network--you don’t see it or pay it much attention, but take it away and nothing works.  For years now, DHCP and DNS have been integrated into network and server infrastructure.  But because these services have been freely available in network devices and server operating systems, vendors have had little incentive to make any significant improvements or enhancements to the end-user experience. Although things may functionally work, management has been a pain.  And, it’s becoming an even bigger pain due to the rising complexity of modern networks and the fact that businesses are still using cumbersome, error-prone spreadsheets to manage their IP space.  Spreadsheets may have worked in the past because there weren’t that many IP addresses to manage and the IP addresses didn’t change that often. However, that is no longer the case.  New trends in today’s enterprise networks, including virtualization and BYOD, have led to a rapid proliferation of IP addresses, and as such, the ever-increasing need for a better IP management solution.


Of course, when faced with a poor product experience, technology entrepreneurs responded with the creation of sophisticated tools like those from InfoBlox and BlueCat, which got the job done but at a hefty price.  These solutions, however, require you to replace a perfectly good working DHCP/DNS infrastructure and install a dedicated proprietary appliance if you want to reap the advanced features they tout.  This might be a fine solution for businesses where the infrastructure itself is a limiting factor, for the rest of the market, it might be more than what they need. Further, they are not practical solutions for small to medium sized business, may provide more features than desired, and may simply be overkill for most businesses.


Fortunately, the market has evolved and the freely available DHCP/DNS infrastructure has gotten better, covering 99% of the scenarios for most businesses. As such, the number of businesses that actually need dedicated/specialized appliances for their IP infrastructure has gone down.  However, the need for effective management tools to maintain, control, and scale existing infrastructures has gone up. Businesses today need a powerful, yet simple-to-use IP management solution that won’t break the bank.   For example, at SolarWinds, we have evolved our IP address management product into a full featured DHCP, DNS, IPAM (DDI) solution that seamlessly overlays onto your existing DHCP/DNS environment. So now, if you have Cisco or Microsoft IP infrastructures, you can layer SolarWinds IP Address Manager over it for a complete and affordable DDI solution for companies of all sizes.


So what’s left for Infoblox and BlueCat?  Unfortunately, it’s likely a shrinking pie.  The complex value propositions around orchestration and automated network control might be appealing if you’re on the very bleeding edge of technology and have the luxury of deep pockets to pay for such functionality. The fact is that most IT folks don’t need all this extra stuff to ensure the smooth running of their IP infrastructure.


So are these dedicated appliances on the way out—a victim of market evolution?  Tell us what you think.