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The Hidden Cost of Free IPAM

Level 9


Many of us use Microsoft Server in a variety of roles, including DHCP and DNS.  Microsoft DHCP and DNS services are provided at no extra cost and do a good job.  Besides, the Active Directory service depends on the use of DNS, so many organizations choose to use the Microsoft DNS services if for no other reason than to support the Active Directory.


Many of us (especially those still using spreadsheets to track IP’s) were excited to see a new IP Address Management utility bundled with Windows Server 2012.  However, Microsoft IPAM is somewhat comparable to many of Windows Server’s other built-in management tools.  That is to say that these tools are functional, but are not necessarily elegant and often suffer from a number of limitations. In fact, the Microsoft IPAM tool has many of the same limitations as the built-in DNS and DHCP management tools.

For example, Microsoft IPAM works great within a single AD forest, but it won’t work across forest boundaries. Organizations that have multiple Active Directory forests can deploy multiple IPAM instances, but these instances are not aware of one another and do not provide any sort of data synchronization.

The Microsoft IPAM console does a decent job of managing Microsoft DHCP servers, but is not designed to replace the DHCP MMC. Unfortunately, the Microsoft IPAM console provides very little DNS functionality, although this is expected to improve over time.

So why does any of this matter? Because your time is worth something.  If the tool is free, but it doesn’t save you time then the solution is not cost effective. This is why some organizations eventually graduate from Microsoft bundled tools to third-party solutions. 

What is your point of view?  Do you use Microsoft IPAM?  Why or why not?  Have you graduated?  If so, to what and why? If you would like to learn more about how Microsoft IPAM may cost you more, view this recorded webinar.


Level 14

just migrating to here, it has a nice cost

should work within our environment at least

Level 17

Someone paid for a tool, but I do not know if everyone graduated when it comes to mindset. I would learn more about MS IPAM if I did not have a some other things I learned, I do learn and learn it fast and well when it comes time to do so.

Of course I think I would always push for the SW Orion Suite of apps to be budgeted into operating costs! It just makes life easier.

Level 15

We are in the evaluation stages of IPAM -- either MS solution or Solarwinds solution.  Will make decision in the next fiscal year.

Level 14

I am glad that we decided to buy SolarWinds' IPAM before Microsoft came up with their "free version".  To be honest, I am not sure that upper management wouldn't have pushed for the "free version".  Since we already own the SolarWinds solution, we should be OK now -- I hope. 

Level 13

We just brought up MS IPAM recently.  I can't get any budget for another solution.  It has limitations, especially where static IPs are concerned.  Either that or we have not figure out that part of the tool yet.

Level 14

I do not think that I would be very big on this solution.  I do like the SolarWinds IPAM solution. I have used it for many years with no issue.

Level 14

There's two more advantages that SolarWinds IPAM has over the MS alternative -- at least for us. 

  1. We can pull data from the Orion IPAM SQL tables whenever the report writer does not meet our needs.
  2. We can use API's to update the SQL tables, thus saving time in data entry.

By the way there's one thing that I wish Orion IPAM had -- additional Polling Engines.  I know that the SW engineers and developers say that IPAM does not require much cycles to warrant polling engines. Still, I think there's value to having additional polling engines for IPAM  -- and I am not alone in that "wishful thinking". 

Level 18

The Microsoft only restriction will hinder most shops these days...

Level 14

Agreed.  By the way, the same applies to Cisco Prime and other network management apps that only work with their own hardware.  If these guys wish to remain competitive, they need to wake up to the reality that almost no company has single vendors for their O/S and network hardware. 

Restrictions like these are almost caveman-like thinking...


Level 18

my solution....infoblox.

Get IP management out of the hands of the server folks and into the hands of the network folks.

Level 12

I had looked at several IPAMS, we were already a Solarwind's shop, and boy am I glad I started using their IPAM. It was originally missing a lot of features, but now they have a few of their own.

About the Author
9 time Microsoft MVP and freelance writer. Formerly a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and healthcare facilities. Previously worked as a network administrator for several large insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox.