I Know It Works, But It’s Time To Move Off Your Old Rotary Phone, That Is, Homegrown DDI Solution

I was watching “60 Minutes” last night and started chuckling a little bit over the show’s report about piracy. Stealing isn’t funny, but Leslie Stahl trying to explain how criminals do it is. Take for example the dialogue between a former Justice Department official and Stahl.

"And when we get that complete movie, the technology will rearrange all those little pieces into one complete film that is watchable," John Malcolm, a former Justice Department official, explained.

"There's a technology that automatically puts it in the right order?" Stahl asked.

Yes, Virginia. Technology can do that.

Anyway, the report got me thinking about where we were with multitiered applications and virtualization, and how it won’t be too long before applications can be broken up across servers much the way BitTorrent does with files on the Internet. This dissemination of applications in the data center will force the "dial tone" of IT — an always-on, always-available service for connecting to data and applications — to evolve from a clunky and manual process into an automated one. Much of IP, Dynamic Host Communication Protocol(DHCP), Domain Name Services(DNS) management requires too much hand holding; administrators spend time allocating addresses, capturing unused ones, uploading new records, or checking for errors. On average, it takes two days to allocate a set of addresses for the deployment of new servers when it’s 5 minutes of work.

Infrastructure and operations professionals will have to quickly wean their administrators off manual, script-based, or kludgy homegrown tools soon if they’re going to be ready for:

  • The increase of IP addresses from mobile and non-IT devices. Mobile devices will add level complexity and stress on the movement of IP addresses, but the increasing amount of IP address per-person will cause large strains.  HVAC sensors, manufacturing tools, retail hardware, and other devices are connecting, and the average amount of IP addresses will skyrocket to 20 to 30 per person.
  • Automated network connections. Although most organizations have virtualized their servers, the creation of a pool of highly scalable, abstracted infrastructure that is capable of hosting end customer applications and is billed by consumption will require deploying automated network connections.
  • IPv6. Besides IPv4 addresses running out, there are missed revenue and market opportunities for organizations that don’t start the transition. With only 20% of Asia on-line, tens of thousands connecting, and increasing purchasing power, you will have to ask yourself how many potential customers you’re willing to let go to your competitor.

I&O teams should start evaluating commercial solutions that can bring automation into your infrastructure and develop a staged migration strategy to move away from homegrown DNS and DHCP management systems.

While it’s possible to use open source or  pseudo-freebies from Microsoft, there’s a great deal of benefit to be gained from purchasing a product that combines all of this functionality into one package that’s easy to manage and control and that offers the advantage of a single vendor that can support such a critical enterprise network function. In transitioning to “cloud-like” functionality internally and leveraging the best of the Internet, I&O professionals will need to automate functions, install workflow processes, and set the stage for IPv6 migration.

Can you answer “yes” to any of these? 

  • If you put in a service ticket to allocate IP addresses, on average, does it take more than a few minutes to close? 
  • Do you have more than one person running your DNS, DHCP, and IPAM infrastructure?  Do you have a self-service portal?
  • Do you run your IP addressing on a spreadsheet or homegrown solution?

If you did answer yes, then take a look into research from Forrester, An Infrastructure Can Only Be As Efficient As Its Underlying Components: DNS, DHCP, And IP Address Management,  that provides guidance on why you want to move off spreadsheets or a homegrown DDI solution and which vendor — Alcatel-Lucent, BlueCat Networks, BT DiamondIP, Infoblox— aligns to your business strategy.