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This syndicated post originally appeared at Zeus Kerravala's blog.

The services that make up the DDI market (DNS/DHCP/IPAM) have been around since the birth of IP.  These services are essential to most IT departments and are a definite “need to have” set of technologies.  IT has certainly evolved over the past couple of decades and DDI has kept up with the times adding incremental features to help IT keep up with the constant evolution of IT.   However, I believe DDI now sits on the precipice of its most significant transformation yet – the shift to Active DDI.

The reason I feel this way is that IT is currently going through a mini perfect storm scenario where many forces are coming together that will drive the need for a more advanced DDI solution.  These converging IT forces are:

  • Virtualization.  More virtual machines drive more DHCP calls and increases the number IP addresses used in data centers.  Additionally, booting a VM requires DNS calls.  Moving a VM creates network issues where some reconfiguration of the network is needed.
  • Cloud computing.  Cloud is certainly on the rise and each time an enterprise endpoint accesses a cloud resource, it can generate a dozen or so DNS requests.  This alone can overwhelm legacy DDI systems.
  • Consumerization of the enterprise.  The tipping point happened this year.  From anecdotal conversations, it appears there are at least equally as many companies that allow consumer devices than do not.  When this happens the number of IP addresses per user goes through the roof.  So, even if the company doesn’t grow, you can have 4-5x the number of addresses to manage. 
  •   IPv6.  I wrote my first report on IPv6 back in 2001 and nothing happened.  I wrote another in 2003 and still nothing happened.  Then I stopped writing and now the industry is on the verge of migrating to IPv6!  Maybe it’s me!  The actual reason that IPv6 is hot now is that we finally did run out of addresses and there are some Government mandates in place.   IPv6 is like IP addressing on steroids.  Think managing IPv4 with spreadsheets is tough?  You ain’t seen nothing yet!

So all of these trends are coming together and driving the need for a better DDI system.  As I mentioned, earlier, I call this market, “Active DDI”.  The characteristics of Active DDI are: 

  • Massive scale.  Any DDI solution used in this consumerized, cloud based, v6 world needs massive scale to meet the increased demands on all facets of DDI.  When it comes to DDI, scale is a must.
  • Automation.  This is core component of Active DDI.  The solution will need to automate tasks such as network provisioning, data center migration port blocking, router advertisement and other manual tasks will need to be done more often making automation critical. 
  • Real-time visibility.  More and more IT resources are going virtual which increases the demand for improved manageability and security.  Active DDI needs to provide real time visibility to keep up with the rapid move to the virtual world.
  • IPv6 capabilities.  This one is a bit obvious.  Managing a set of 128 bit IP addresses is exponentially more difficult than the old 32 bit addresses.  Home grown tools, spreadsheets and word documents just don’t cut it any more.  

Traditionally, DDI has been something that only the biggest of the big used.  For most other organizations, they may have used parts of DDI but may not have needed the full suite.  Given the changes that sit on the horizon, it’s very important that even mid-size organizations start investigating Active DDI solutions.  IT is changing quickly, the management tools now need to evolve to catch up.

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Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.
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