Strong Internet Protocol address management (IPAM) solutions aren’t the first things people think about when trying to save time and money. However, for many organizations, it’s an undiscovered resource-drain. It’s a lot like holding a race car back (your organization) with extra weight and bad suspension setups. Successful organizations understand that higher levels of performance demand more efficient processes. Companies competing at very high levels require every extra advantage to outperform their peers. While IPAM isn’t a tip-of-the-spear initiative for most companies, it is vitally important. Among other critical problems, without proper IPAM, you can easily run out of addresses, preventing new devices from being deployed.
IPv4 Exhaustion Is Real
In 1981, the Internet Engineering Task Force(IETF) created IPv4 and allocated approximately 4.3 billion addresses. What was seemingly an inexhaustible number of addresses then ran dry in less than four decades:
- According to Réseaux IP Européens(RIPE), a nonprofit dedicated to maintaining and developing the internet: “Today, at 15:35 (UTC+1) on 25 November 2019, we made our final /22 IPv4 allocation from the last remaining addresses in our available pool. We have now run out of IPv4 addresses.”
- IPv4 addresses are still being used because they are being recovered from closed, defunct and repurposed networks. However, RIPE asserts that, “While we therefore expect to be allocating IPv4 for some time, these small amounts will not come close to the many millions of addresses that networks in our region need today.”
- Mega cap titan Amazon purchased over 100 million IPv4 addresses for approximately $2.5 billion.
- According to IPv4.Global:
- In 2015, IPv4 addresses, sold via third-party auctions, could be acquired for about $6 each.
- In 2021, IPv4 addresses cost about $32 each, or $320,000 to support 10,000 subscribers.
- In 2023, IPv4 addresses are projected to cost $60 per address, or $600,000 to support 10,000 subscribers
That’s an increasingly expensive proposition for startups, fast-growing companies and even large-scale organizations.
Why Not Just Upgrade to IPv6?
Most organizations are hesitant to make the jump to IPv6 for many reasons, including security concerns. NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence published a paper stating: “IPv6 and IPv6-based evasion techniques pose a difficult task for network security monitoring. While detection of various transition mechanisms is relatively straightforward, other evasion methods prove more challenging. Additionally, some security solutions do not yet fully support IPv6.” In other words, the security vulnerabilities come from IPv4 to IPv6 transition tools. The threats can be neutralized with proper support but, if left unchecked, represent a very real risk. Keeping your IP addresses secure and manageable are top priorities.
Your IPAM Spreadsheet Is a Weak Link
Regardless of whether your organization is in the IPv4, IPv6 or dual-stack camp, many organizations still rely on the outdated method of unwieldy spreadsheets. Some pervasive IP spreadsheet problems include:
- Fast-Finger Typos: Wherever humans are involved, the probabilities of manual errors increase. Small errors can grow into larger network issues inclusive of the dreaded downing of your network. Every single time your records need to be modified for tracking or updating, the specter of human error is a real possibility.
- Real-Time Data Is Not Possible: If your IP spreadsheets are manually updated, it’s likely that tracking data is difficult. Administration teams can vary in size and the more team members, the more time and resources will be burned up unnecessarily in the documenting and tracking of IP addresses.
- Multiple DHCP/DNS Services: As your network grows, it’s typical to include DNS and DHCP servers from satellite locations. The greater the number of servers, the higher the difficulty in managing them. The decentralization of IP addresses increases the likelihood of glitches. Multiple DNS administrators only compound the issue because of the constantly changing IP address assignments — especially if they’re in disparate geolocations.
Internal vs. External IPAM Solutions
Proper IPAM solutions do exist — and you don’t even have to implement them. In fact, it’s more efficient that you don’t. According to BlueCat Networks, when you implement IPAM in conjunction with your DDI technology solution set, your organization can:
- Centralize Your IP World: Your entire IP address network will be in one consolidated and organized place.
- Speed Up Service for Your Users: No matter what size your organization, automating IPAM reduces time to provision IP address spaces.
- Secure Your Network: The DNS data can be used to help your organization detect malicious anomalies and take commensurate recovery or preventative actions.
- Upgrade Your Team Projects: When your administration team isn’t needed for manual IP spreadsheets or tweaking IPAM freeware, they can be better utilized for more productive and profitable initiatives.
Much like the internet, IPAM is a very different beast from only a few decades ago. Solid IPAM solutions will not only save time, they can also yield advantages, like managing DNS/DHCP servers and tracking IP address assignments and network allocations all from a single web-based interface. For example, this new set of collected device data can be used to associate information for all objects in your database — allowing administrators to search, sort, adjust or export based on any criteria.
Adjacent partner benefits also include accelerating the time-to-revenue ratio. The faster, more streamlined your IPAM is, the greater your operational effectiveness, and so too is your organization’s ability to deploy new applications, services and projects. Lose the clunky spreadsheets, not just because they’re cumbersome, outdated and represent a security vulnerability, but because you can turn your IPAM into a net advantage with specialized support. Upgrade your IPAM solutions by partnering with a strategic partner like The Migus Group that can alleviate your IPAM issues and, as a result, can streamline your entire network.
Marty Aquino has been a passionate writer on venture capital, technology, forecasting, risk mitigation, wealth and entrepreneurial topics since 2009. He is the founder of Carbonwolf Energy, a venture-capital firm specializing in world-changing and status-quo-defying technologies and people.
- RIPE NCC — The RIPE NCC has run out of IPv4 Addresses
- Toonk.io — AWS and their Billions in IPv4 addresses
- IPv4.Global — IPv4 Prior Sales
- NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence — Hedgehog in the Fog: Creating and Detecting IPv6 Transition
- BlueCat Networks — Your IP address spreadsheet: A network menace