As June 6th 2012 approaches, which has been designated for the "launch" of IPv6 by the Internet Society, what, if anything, should SMBs be doing to prepare?
Addressing a growing problem
- IP Address Management (IPAM) is an essential service for managing an organisation's IP infrastructure, but is often neglected by IT departments
IPAM involves the allocation, classification and management of all IP addresses for securely controlling network access. However, many organisations use rudimentary manual methods, such as spreadsheets, that are costly and inefficient, and are often out of date and error prone.
- The proliferation of IP-connected devices is leading to an overload of IP addresses that have to be managed
Not only mobile IT devices and smart phones, but Voice over IP (VoIP), Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and other devices used for industrial automation each have IP addresses associated with them that need to be managed. This can lead to the number of IP addresses in use growing exponentially.
- Not only is the number of IP addresses in use by organisations growing, but each address is becoming more complex
The IP address system most commonly in use today-IPv4-was put in place in 1977 and the number of available addresses is fast running out. Its successor-IPv6-provides a seemingly limitless stock of IP addresses as each address space is a 128-bit string, as opposed to the 32-bit space of IPv4. Although both systems will run in parallel for some time to come, the switchover to IPv6 will increase the complexity of manually administering and processing each IP address.
- Technologies to automate the allocation, classification and tracking of all IP addresses in use are available and these can also be used to manage other closely related technologies, including Domain Name System (DNS), Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) and endpoint security solutions
IPAM tools provide greater visibility into IP networks, as well as enhancing the accuracy and simplification of management tasks, allowing organisations increased control over costs and productivity, and providing greater control over the security of networks.
- The benefits of IPAM are tangible, promising to slash costs from the bottom line and help achieve compliance objectives
Organisations can use such technology to account for which IP addresses are in use and who is using them, which will boost their governance efforts.
Organisations today are reliant on their IP infrastructure, and with more and more IP devices in use, that reliance is growing. By implementing IPAM tools, organisations of any size can reduce their dependence on the manual processes that impact the productivity of limited IT management resources and bring down costs by gaining better control of essential business assets.