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As the number of devices and systems increase clutter on corporate networks, IT managers must struggle with the onslaught of individual IP addresses. To help address the demands of increasingly complicated IP environments -- particularly with the rise of IPv6 networks -- management tools and capabilities are appearing to provide IP address management services.
An IP address designates a unique identification for every system or device within a network. As networks grow and become more complex, the traditional process of assigning static (unchanging) IP addresses has largely been abandoned in favor of more versatile technologies. For example, the dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP) can assign IP addresses automatically. These later advances helped to automate IP assignments and avoid configuration errors caused by IT staff. Still, there was no straightforward means of IP management.
IP address management (IPAM) is a software feature that allows IT administrators to discover, track, manage and report on the IP addresses used across an enterprise network. IPAM also integrates DHCP with the domain name system (DNS). IPAM is increasingly important as traditional IPv4 (dotted decimal) IP addresses are replaced with much larger and more cumbersome IPv6 128-bit hexadecimal IP addresses. There are many IPAM software products, but IPAM capability is integrated into Windows Server 2012 and updated with the R2 release.
IPAM offers a highly customizable display of IP addresses and the way those addresses are used (auditing). IP addresses can be organized by address, or by user-defined groupings which are often easier to visualize for complex data center environments.
For example, IPAM can eliminate the manual spreadsheets or scripts that often accompany IP address changes or additions, instead providing a single platform for IP management and DHCP/DNS services. The ability to track and audit IP address use can help optimize limited IPv4 space and also help organizations meet aspects of regulatory compliance reporting.
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