Last updated on May 23, 2023.
Is your do-it-yourself approach to DNS, DHCP, and IP address management not cutting it anymore? Are you tired of managing your core network services with spreadsheets and open-source software? Have network issues stifled cloud migration or automation initiatives or increased security risks?
If you need to tame your complex enterprise network, it’s time to implement a more mature solution.
DNS, DHCP, and IP address management (IPAM) provide the core services that enable network communications. DDI is often used as an acronym to describe the integration of these three core components of networking into one management solution.
A recent survey conducted by Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) of 227 IT professionals from medium and large enterprises (more than 2,500 employees) across North America and the United Kingdom found a four-part recipe to ensure success when implementing a DDI solution. These four steps are:
- Dump DIY solutions
- Avoid common pitfalls
- Align technical teams with IT management
- Focus on cloud support and integration
This post will explore each of these recommendations in depth, as well as how BlueCat’s solutions can help you better succeed along the way.
No. 1: Dump DIY solutions
The first step to a successful approach to DDI is to adopt commercial solutions. A DIY approach that relies on spreadsheets or open-source software for IPAM and free or open-source software for DNS and DHCP services just doesn’t cut it in today’s complex networking environments.
IT enterprises should strive for the most mature solution that they can adopt.
A DDI management platform that controls DNS, DHCP, and IP address space across all networks is the best approach. However, some organizations may find that an IPAM overlay is the best solution if they lack the ability to consolidate disparate DNS services. If you’re unsure what solution is best for your organization, BlueCat has some concrete suggestions for what to ask a potential DDI solution vendor.
No. 2: Avoid common pitfalls
Second, there are some common pitfalls that can trip up an organization’s DDI solution implementation.
A struggle to understand budget needs
EMA research found that more than 52% of organizations struggle with budget. People outside networking don’t often understand the importance of DDI solutions. As a result, winning budget support from upper management can be a challenge (more on that in a minute).
Network engineers must explain how critical it is to do DDI right from both operational and security perspectives.
“People don’t understand why [DDI] can be so expensive,” a network engineer with a Fortune 500 aerospace and defense company told EMA. “Senior leadership is disconnected from understanding how intricate our DNS is until we depict it in a PowerPoint network drawing, showing all the servers across our international data centers.”
Realistic budgeting for a DDI solution can be challenging, even for the technical experts who understand it. BlueCat offers some useful guidance for how to calculate costs and ROI for a DDI solution.
EMA research found that network complexity is a struggle for more than 52% of organizations. Today’s networks extend across multiple disparate platforms, including multi-cloud, software-defined WAN, software-defined data centers, and the Internet of Things. All of this drives additional complexity.
To reduce it, a DDI solution should integrate with the various systems that manage these environments.
Lack of personnel with DDI expertise
In 2016, according to EMA’s biennial Network Management Megatrends research, 49% of network operations professionals said that their teams were, by their own definition, fully successful. By 2022, only 27% reported total success.
In EMA’s 2022 survey, respondents identified their top barrier to success: a shortage of skilled personnel. In fact, only 12.5% of enterprises believe that it’s easy to hire and retain skilled networking personnel. Their chief complaint about today’s IT labor pool is a lack of advanced skills.
According to EMA, more than 42% of organizations lack personnel with DDI expertise in particular. Networking teams primarily struggle to hire people who understand network security and automation, two key components of DDI administration. IT organizations often work around it by hiring smart people with a good basic technical foundation. And then the organization trains them in advanced networking skills.
DDI vendors can also help with training, too. BlueCat Learning offers self-paced online learning, instructor-led training, and expert certifications with digital badges.
No. 3: Align technical teams with IT management
During the course of its research, EMA found several examples of executive IT management and technical experts having very different perspectives on the state of DDI at their organizations.
For instance, members of networking engineering teams were more likely to report a mid-level stage of maturity. This might include a commercial IPAM solution that integrates third-party DNS services into an overlay. Meanwhile, respondents in the IT executive suite were more likely to report that their organization employed a fully mature DDI management solution.
Network engineering teams are usually the true subject matter experts on DDI. The CIO’s office can have an awareness gap about the level of presence of third-party DNS services in their enterprises.
IT management misunderstands what DDI maturity means
CIOs can also misunderstand what DDI maturity truly means.
EMA found that although CIOs were more likely to report that they have a full-stack DDI management platform, they were also more likely than technical experts to report the use of Microsoft DNS. Furthermore, IT executives were less aware than members of IT or cloud architecture groups of the risks of using Microsoft DNS. These risks can include DNS replication issues, change control problems, outdated DNS records, operational complexity, and security.
When CIOs misunderstand the true state of DDI maturity at their organization, they will be less likely to support investments to improve it. Network engineers often find themselves having to educate IT leadership about DDI and its criticality to core network services. (The internet can’t work without it, after all.)
Talking to IT management about DDI solutions is hard
And it’s not always an easy task. It can feel awkward or daunting to start a conversation with management to help them better understand DDI.
“One thing that inhibits us from investing in DDI is just the difficulty of trying to explain to upper management why we need the product,” a senior network engineer with a Fortune 500 retail company told EMA.
BlueCat’s guide on how to talk to your boss about buying a DDI solution offers practical suggestions to broach the topic and bridge the DDI knowledge gap. It includes conversation starters that you can actually use.
No. 4: Focus on cloud support and integration
Network teams should design their DDI environment with both cloud and integration support in mind. Vendors should support a range of cloud providers.
Indeed, BlueCat’s hybrid cloud management solution is environment agnostic. It provides single-pane-of-glass command-and-control for on-premises, virtual, hybrid cloud, multi-cloud and private cloud environments. It integrates seamlessly with both native DNS and IP configuration services offered by cloud providers.
With Cloud Discovery & Visibility, your network operations team can have full visibility and control to provision cloud network sources. And you can do so in any type of public, private, multi- or hybrid cloud environment.
Furthermore, security monitoring and off-the-shelf integration with IT service management tools such as ServiceNow should be priorities.
For example, the separate silos of ServiceNow tickets and IPAM, which is controlled by network admins, typically creates a real challenge. ServiceNow consoles do not contain all device and network data, so there is no capability for end-to-end automated fulfillment and centralized system investigation.
Enterprises can use BlueCat Adaptive Plugins for ServiceNow and the ServiceNow Configuration Management Database (CMDB) to synchronize network and device assets from BlueCat’s IPAM tool, Address Manager, into a standard configuration management system.
Ready to implement your DDI solution? Learn how organizations set themselves up for success by downloading EMA’s report today.
Want to read more about the report? Learn how two-thirds of enterprises realize the benefits of full-stack DDI solutions and how cloud, automation, and security drive the pursuit of DDI.
Want to know more about DDI maturity at small and medium enterprises in Europe, the Middle East, the Asia-Pacific region, and Latin America? Read the international version of the report and learn how automation is the No. 1 driver of DDI investment.