IPAM? What is it and How to Use it to Manage IP Address & DHCP
Last Updated : 10/07/2022
Managing Hundreds, if not Thousands, of IP connected devices can be a big pain – But imagine trying to keep track of which IP Address is assigned to each device, which the dhcp lease is up or when the IP has changed?
Well your in Luck, as there is a solution to managing IP addressing tracking issues just like the one above.
This is what we call IPAM Solution.
Here is our list of the eight best IPAMs to manage IP addresses:
- SolarWinds IP Address Manager – EDITOR’S CHOICE This flexible on-premises package is an IPAM but it also has integrated DHCP and DNS servers built in to create a full DDI solution. You can also choose to use third-party or native Microsoft DHCP and DNS systems with this tool. Runs on Windows Server. Start a 30-day free trial.
- BlueCat Address Manager This IPAM is part of a full DDI solution and it offers the option to create an overlay network address strategy that can feed through an SD-WAN system to integrate multiple sites and cloud platforms into a single network. This is a cloud-based service.
- Infoblox IP Address Manager This IPAM is part of a DDI package that is delivered as a SaaS solution and will be of particular interest to multi-site businesses.
- The NOC Project This is an Operational Support System that includes much more than just an IPAM. The package has a DNS server but no GHCP server; it includes routing and network management support. This is a free package that installs on Linux and FreeBSD.
- BT Diamond IP This is a virtual appliance that runs on a cloud platform or on site over Hyper-V or VMWare and connects through to associated DHCP and DNS servers.
- SolidSever IPAM for Microsoft This standalone software solution will work with the native DNS and DHCP servers built into Windows to form a DDI. Runs on Windows Server. A DDI suite is also available as a network appliance.
- Crypton Easy IP This IPAM software package works on virtualizations – either installed on your chosen cloud platform or run on site over VMWare or Citrix.
- Windows Server 2016 IPAM This IPAM is already available on your server if you are running Windows Server 2016 and it is also packaged in with Windows Server 2019 and Windows Server 2022.
What is IPAM?
Internet Protocol Address Management, or IPAM, is a procedure for organizing, tracking, and adjusting the information related to the IP addressing space. It can help a network admins guarantee that the list of IP addresses remains updated.
It can be an inventory of the used and unassigned IP addresses, their subnets, their status, host name information, and even what hardware is associated with it. Normally, an IPAM integrates to DHCP and DNS to allow even more precise information.
Why is IPAM Important?
We live in a world that is highly dependent on IP addressing. From personal to enterprise-sized networks, IP addresses are essential for communication. If it is connected to a network, any device depends on its address. On top of that, emerging technologies such as IoT, Cloud Computing, and wearable devices are increasing the demand for IP addressing space.
We need efficient IPAM to help us manage, plan, and track all our IP addresses.
Getting by Without an IPAM
Some businesses seem to get by without paid or free IPAM software. Their IT departments are managing IPs with the help of spreadsheets and documents. A spreadsheet with an IP addressing scheme may contain information such as, IP addresses, subnets, VLANs, connected devices, and even switch port numbers.
When the network admins are planning and executing an IP addressing re-assignment or expansion they will take this document and modify it with the new information. In order to avoid any IP address conflict, the admins check this document when assigning IP addresses to new devices and communicate it with the rest of the team.
An example of an IP spreadsheet?
But it gets really challenging when trying to update this spreadsheet. Pinging an IP just to confirm that the destination is “no reply”, doesn’t really tells you much about the other end. Maybe there is a device using an IP, but it just happens to be momentarily out of the network.
But checking and updating a spreadsheet every time has the following major flaws…
- Frequent IP address Conflicts In some cases when a DHCP is not configured properly, it can dynamically assign reserved IP Addresses to devices plugged into the network. In the same case, an IT team member might assign the same IP address, statically, to a new critical device. Creating a duplicate use of the address and making both devices unavailable. These conflicts in IP addresses can create massive outages, which is particularly harmful in large networks.
- Higher risk to Security Breaches A simple spreadsheet has no value for security audits. Without knowing which IP addresses are assigned to which device, when they were assigned, and to which particular user, there is a higher risk to a security breach.
- Tougher to Remain Compliant Some regulatory compliance requires IP assignment logs and reports. This calls for extremely well-organized documentation and logging procedure in part from the network managers.
- Troubleshooting Time When problems occur and the spreadsheet is not updated properly, troubleshooting becomes complex. If the network faced a temporary outage, it could be due to a cabling problem, port mismatch, IP address conflict, or a breach in security.
With a million dollars of infrastructure in play, it seems illogical to try to “cope” with a spreadsheet and the communication from your IT team. When rolling out new IT equipment or troubleshooting network issues, you want to be 100% confident that the IP addressing design is accurate.
Popular “IPAM” Solutions
Fortunately, you can leave the spreadsheet behind and implement a comprehensive IP management solution.
Modern IPAM solutions call for management capabilities far beyond traditional IPAM. Some services provide what is known as a DDI or “DHCP, DNS, and IPAM” bundled into one tool. Services such as DHCP and DNS are critical components for good IP management.
Our methodology for selecting an IP address management tool
We reviewed the market for IPAMs and analyzed options based on the following criteria:
- An IPAM that is bundled in with DHCP and DNS servers or can interact with third-party servers.
- An IP address scanner that can be set to run continuously or on a schedule
- On demand IP address scanning
- Exportable results for analysis in other systems
- Options to manage SD-WAN overlay networks
- A free trial or a demo system for an opportunity to assess the tool before buying
- Value for money from an IPAM that provides a competent service at a reasonable price
With these selection criteria in mind, we identified a number of reliable IP address management systems and we made sure to include some free options.
1. SolarWinds IP Address Manager (IPAM) – FREE TRIAL
SolarWinds IPAM is a DDI solution. It integrates DHCP, DNS into a single platform. With it, you can manage and track DHCP and DNS services in real time, alongside with traditional IP address management. SolarWinds IPAM supports many DHCP/DNS vendors on-premises and cloud deployments.
Other Notable features of Solarwinds' offering include:
- Automatic IP addresses tracking
- Alerting and reporting systems
- Automated IP Requests
- Customizable dashboards that work great for network operation centers
- Multiple alert channels ensure teams are notified across SMS, email, or app integration
- Uses anomaly detection to assist technicians in their day-to-day operations
- Supports files integrity monitoring that can act as an early warning system for ransomware, data theft, and permission access issues
- Forensic log audit features enable admins to create reports for legal cases or investigations
- Can take time to fully explore the platform
SolarWinds IP Address Manager This is our top pick for an IPAM because it implements automated IP address tracking and coordinates with DHCP and DNS servers. It uses the DSHCP and DNS systems, Microsoft native solution or third-party DHCP and DNS servers included with this tool. This package will raise an alert if it encounters anomalies or errors in IP address allocation. The system also handles IP requests to process address demands.
Download: Start 30-day Free Trial
Official Site: https://www.solarwinds.com/ip-address-manager/registration
OS: Windows Server
2. BlueCat Address Manager
It is an advanced IPAM that allows global visibility in the IP addressing scheme, efficient management, network planning, and automation. With BlueCat Address Manager, you can manage every connected device from a centralized platform. BlueCat is also a DDI solution. It allows you integration of IP address, DNS, and DHCP data in a single place.
Key Features of BlueCat Address Manager includes some of the following:
- Support for VMWare and Microsoft Hyper-V.
- Comprehensive out-of-the-box reporting capabilities.
- Flexible Role-Based Access Control.
- Tracking and Auditing.
- Scheduled and On-Demand Deployments.
- Interfaces from the web, making management accessible from anywhere
- Can easily tracking DHCP lease times, used IP addresses, and device hostnames with little configuration
- Can be deployed physically as well as virtually
- Must contact sales for pricing
- The interface needs improvement, could be easier to save configurations and navigate menus
- More knowledgebase articles would be helpful for new users
Price: Contact a Bluecat sales representative for more details.
Download: No trial download available.
3. Infoblox IP Address Manager
Another centralized DDI solution. Infoblox IP address manager uses Infoblox Grid, a technology that provides high availability of DNS, DHCP, and IPAM in a distributed network. This service can be deployed on-premises, on the cloud, or in hybrid environments.
The important features of Infoblox IP Address Manager include:
- DHCP, DNS, and IP address manager
- Fast scanning
- Rogue device detection
Infoblox provides amazing reporting and analytics capabilities so you can plan for capacity, manage your assets, and fulfill regulatory compliance.
- Can automatically identify unmanaged devices, great for MSPs cleaning up new client infrastructure
- Supports LDAP Active Directory integration
- Can create customized workflows for repeat administrative tasks
- Generous 60-day trial period
- The interface isn’t as intuitive as leading tools on the market
- Reporting is considered an add-on, and not included in the base product
Price: Price is not published in InfoBlox official site, contact them for more information.
Download: Register to download a 60-days fully featured Infoblox DDI trial.
4. The NOC Project
The NOC project is an Operating Support System “OSS” designed for enterprise or large networks. The NOC project is open source and completely free. It covers many areas for management and provisioning for Network Operation Centers “NOCs”. The multi-VRF address space management (IPAM) is included among the NOC operative features.
Some features of NOC’s IPAM include:
- Support of Multi-VRF.
- Automatic search.
- DNS Integration.
- Reporting tools.
- Scripting for workflow integration.
- Designed for larger networks
- Supports automated search
- Offers robust scripting and workflow integrations
- Completely free and open source
- Not the best option for enterprises look for “done for you” solutions
Price: Free and open source.
Download: Get it from its official website or through its code location.
5. BT Diamond IP
Diamond IP is an IPAM solution that provides efficient management for IPv4 and IPv6 addressing scopes. This solution can be deployed on-premises, on cloud domains, or hybrid environments. Diamond IP offers hardware, virtual appliances, and managed IPAM services.
Diamond IP is also a DDI solution. It comes with an intuitive web user interface that allows you high flexibility. With it, you can manage IP blocks, subnets, and a long list of different DHCP/DNS vendors, all from a central place.
Some features of BT Diamond include:
- Support for Multi-cloud IPAM with virtual appliances.
- Cloud automation appliance.
- DNS, DHCP, and DNSSEC solution.
- Offers the product as a tool or a managed service, good for resellers and companies who wish to outsource IP management
- Supports multi-cloud environments for larger networks
- An ideal choice for organizations that rely heavily on cloud-based services
- Must contact sales for pricing
- Manage service is likely more costly than self-management
Price: Contact GlobalCervices BT to talk to a representative.
Download: Trial download unavailable.
6. SolidServer IPAM for Microsoft
SolidServer IPAM for Microsoft from EfficientIP works with the DNS server and DHCP server utilities that are built into Windows Server. The IPAM will coordinate address statuses with those two functions when it scans the network for expired address allocation leases. The package also coordinates with Active Directory to ensure that it has secure access to your DNS and DHCP servers.
Some features of SolidServer IPAM are:
- Uses SNMP to discover network devices
- Coordinates with Windows Server DNS and DHCP services
- Spots security problems with unauthorized devices
- Available as a network appliance
As well as being available as a software package for Windows Server, this IPAM is offered as part of a network appliance package that implements the full DDI suite. This appliance can be accessed on a free trial.
- Has a fantastic user interface
- Can coordinate Windows Server DNS/DHCP
- Can be deployed as a network appliance
- Works well for MSPs
- Must contact sales for pricing
Price: Contact the EfficientIP Sales Department.
Download: Ask for a free trial of an EfficientIP network appliance.
7. Crypton Easy IP
Crypton Easy IP is a web-based IPAM solution. It allows you to keep track of all IP (IPv4 and IPv6) addresses, subnets, and VLANs/VRFs. With Crypton Easy IP you can view current IPv4 addresses and plan for smooth IPv6 migrations.
Some Features of Crypton include:
- Intuitive user interface
- Automated subnet allocation
- Network Auto-discovery
- Real-time SNMP Inventory
- Role-based user privilege
It can also help you with audits by keeping track of all changes in the IP addressing scheme and see assignments by MAC or hostname.
- Supports both IPv4 and IPv6
- Can sort by IP range and VLAN
- Supports live SNMP inventory
- Interface could use improvement
Price: Starting from $495
Download: Try Easy-IP free for 30 days.
8. Windows Server 2016 IPAM
Initially, Microsoft integrated IPAM functionality into Windows Server 2012, and later expanded its range capabilities in 2012 R2 and finally in 2016.
IPAM from Windows Server 2016 allows end-to-end IP infrastructure planning, managing, and tracking. This tool can provide the IP and DNS management capabilities for large scale enterprise networks. It can automate the IP address and DNS discovery process and allows you to manage them from a central platform.
Windows Server 2016 IPAM is considered a DDI. It can manage and integrate additional DHCP, DNS, and Domain Controllers into a single place. Windows Server 2016 allows you to visualize all DNS resource records in detail and their assigned IP addresses. It will also allow you full management for DNS and DHCP IP addresses.
Key features include Windows Server 2016 IPAM offering include:
- Improved DNS Management
Support for DNS resource record, conditional forwarder, and DNS Zones.
- Support of IPAM via PowerShell
Use Powershell to find DNS and DHCP objects and role-based access control.
- Active Directory Forest
Manage multiple DNS/DHCP servers of multiple AD forests.
- Purge IP Addresses
Reduce the IPAM database size by eliminating unnecessary IP address utilization.
- Comes with Windows Server
- Sleek, easy to use
- Offers IPAM support through PowerShell
- Only for Windows Server environments
Price: For more information on Windows Server 2016 licensing options refer to their official site.
Download: You can a Windows Server 2016 evaluation for 180 days FREE to Test!
We hope this article was informative and that you've learned more about IPAM along with some solutions for managing your IP addresses and managing them correctly. Having a Solid IP Address Management platform integrated into your environment will help you keep track if IP address changes, updates and ensuring you keep up-to-date with changes in your environment.
IP address management FAQs
Why is IP address management important?
Each device on a network has to be identified by a unique IP address in order to communicate through a router across links – link-level communication through switches is managed with MAC addresses. If a device does not have an IP address, other devices on the network cannot contact it. If two devices have the same IP address, it would be impossible for the router to know which of the two devices another device on the network is trying to contact. IP addresses are assigned by a DHCP server on a lease. When a lease expires, the address needs to be renewed. IP address managers poll the network to see which IP addresses are still in use. This list enables the DHCP server to update its records of available IP addresses.
What is the difference between DHCP and IPAM?
DHCP is the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol and a DHCP server is in charge of allocating IP addresses to devices on a network for a period on a lease. IPAM is an IP addrdsss manager. It checks across the network to see which IP addresses are currently in use. Feeding the IPAM list into the DHCP server lets DHCP know which IP addresses have been abandoned and can be returned to the pool of available addresses for reuse.
Can 2 devices have the same IP address?
Each device has to have an IP address that is unique within an address space. Thus, each device on a private network has to have an IP address that is unique within that network. However, that same IP address can be deployed for another device on a separate network. This is because those two devices will never be subject to the same router. Every device on the internet has to have an address that is unique throughout the internet. As private networks connect to the internet through a gateway, the network is represented by the gateway, which has an IP address and the devices behind them are not directly contactable. If two devices on the same network have the same IP address, it would be impossible for the router to know to which of those devices it should send messages that are tagged with that address.