2014 has just begun, and yet it’s already shaping up to be the year of the Internet of Things (IoT). Everywhere you look you see articles about the explosion of virtual, clouds, and BYOD and you read about all the ways to benefit from new smart devices and sensors like thermostats and smoke detectors. Because we’re all rooted in the practical, we wanted to see how all of this is affecting you on the front-lines. Ultimately, the Internet of Things means more work (and job security) for an enterprising network administrator—more configuring, monitoring and troubleshooting. So it’s in this context that we launched a survey to learn how people approach IP address management in the age of BYOD and IoT.
The survey was conducted between December 9, 2013 and January 13, 2014 in our thwack community. Our goal was to understand IT professionals’ point of view on 13 questions organized under four major sections. We wanted to learn how they define IP address management and what tasks they typically engage in. We also wanted to know how much time they spend on managing IP addresses and what tools and capabilities they prefer. In total, we had 195 responses.
Profile of Survey Participants
Most respondents said they managed large networks. Nearly 1/3 said they manage more than 5000 IPs. About 1/4 of those surveyed said they represented organizations with between 500 and 2000 IPs. Then around 1/5 said they manage 2000 to 5000 IPs and the remaining group managed up to 500 IPs. The most common role was in Network IT Operations with the top three job titles being Engineer, Administrator, and Manager.
What Does IP Address Management Include?
Next, we asked, “What does a good IP address management solution need to offer?” We presented participants with a number of top-level capabilities and asked them to prioritize their answers as “must have,” “nice to have,” and “not needed.” The highest priority (must have) top-level capabilities are:
- Monitor IP address usage and IP resource utilization
- Accurately provision IP addresses and automate routine configuration tasks
- Manage and maintain IP address documentation
How Much Time Do You Currently Spend Managing IP Addresses?
We asked the respondents to cite how much time they spend managing IP addresses across a variety of activities including maintaining and publishing IP address documentation, managing DHCP and DNS configurations, monitoring and troubleshooting IP resources, and more. The weighted average across all participants was 38 hours each month, and 49 hours each month among administrators with more than 5,000 IPs.
What We Learned
We observed a couple of key concepts we learned from these initial questions. First, managing IP addresses is something not limited to large networks. Administrators working with networks of all sizes are impacted by IP addresses and infrastructure management. Second, while we intuitively understand the problems caused by managing IP addresses manually using spreadsheets, we cannot overlook the larger and related challenges associated with managing the entire IP infrastructure consisting primarily of DHCP and DNS servers. Finally, we were surprised to observe that IP management consumed so much time. An average of 38 hours a month is roughly equivalent to one person spending a full day each week. Translating this into dollars, we see that this equals about $23K annually or approximately a quarter FTE.
Below is a slide share presentation of the survey results
But we’re not finished yet. Join us again in the second of this two-part series as we explore what features admins think will simplify IP address and DHCP and DNS administration in the age of BYOD and IoT. Until then, tell us if your experiences coincide with these survey results. How much time do you spend managing IP addresses, DHCP and DNS systems, and monitoring and troubleshooting IP resources and issues? What makes this so difficult and time consuming?