August 8, 2010

Internet Protocol Address Management (IPAM)

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Internet Protocol Address Management (IPAM) is a means of planning, tracking, and managing the Internet Protocol address space used in a network. Most commonly, tools such as DNS and DHCP are used in tandem to perform this task, though true IPAM will glue these services together so that each is aware of changes in the other (for instance DNS knowing of the IP address taken by a client via DHCP, and updating itself accordingly). Additional functionality, such as controlling reservations in DHCP as well as other data aggregation and reporting capability, is also common. IPAM tools are increasingly important as new IPv6 networks are deployed with larger address pools, different subnetting techniques, and more complex 128-bit hexadecimal numbers which are not as easily human-readable as IPv4 addresses. IPv6 networking, mobile computing, and multihoming require more dynamic address management and are causing technical obsolescence of the early generations of IP address management (IPAM) software and spreadsheets used for address management.
Third-Generation concept
The latest concept in IP address management, referred to by many vendors as "Third Generation", is that many network service configurations (such as DNS and DHCP) can be automated by a tool that references a network-describing database. Comparing configuration files between switches, DHCP servers, DNS servers, and IP space tracking spreadsheets would show a large amount of overlap in information. Third Generation IP address management looks at creating an abstracted database to store all information about a network and use service specific abstraction layers to extract information and automatically configure those network services.

In theory, third generation IP address management removes the chance that human error may lead to conflicting information across configuration files and spreadsheets used to track IP space allocation.

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