With virtualization now widely deployed in the data center, many large organizations are looking to private cloud for the next wave of business and operational benefits. However, organizations will only experience the full advantages of virtualization and cloud if the underlying network is as dynamic and elastic as the virtual environment. This is where the critical need for intelligent IP Address Management (IPAM) comes into play.
IPAM provides key capabilities for managing, automating and securing virtual environments and cloud networks, regardless of the hypervisors in place. Wherever an organization is on its journey to private cloud, a fully automated, reliable and secure network infrastructure with support for multiple cloud-based hypervisors is essential.
To realize the full benefits of virtualization, here are 6 things organizations need to know:
1. The Private Cloud is Real
Although private clouds have been talked about for some time, the technology has only recently reached critical mass with organizations moving from private cloud trials into full production. If the deployment of private clouds has been slower than anticipated, it is because many enterprises have encountered significant management, security and compliance challenges.
Private clouds place a heavy demand on the network services that are critical to business connectivity, availability and application access. Virtual servers and vApps need to be accessible over the network. In order for users and other systems to find and connect to the VM, an IP address and DNS hostname are needed. As a result, organizations need to understand that improvements in network automation are required before private clouds are ready for prime time. Putting in place a solution that offers a fresh approach to network and device management, spanning physical, virtual and cloud environments, will ensure private clouds are able to maintain a reliable and consistent IT capability.
2. Xen and KVM – The Cloud is Open
Even though VMware dominates the data center, clouds are much more heterogeneous. We see many enterprises choosing to build clouds on second-source hypervisors including Microsoft Hyper-V, Xen and KVM.
The viability of other hypervisor alternatives helps enterprises address concerns over a single-vendor virtualization strategy and vendor lock-in. Organizations need to consider an IPAM vendor that supports a broad range of hypervisors so they can have the freedom to select the best hypervisor for their application, while benefiting from heterogeneous IPAM automation.
3. The Cloud Needs Automation
In a recent poll conducted by BlueCat, 31% of respondents said the number one challenge of implementing a private cloud was automation. Even though virtualization makes it possible to stand up a new virtual server in minutes, this is of no benefit to an organization if it still takes days for IT to manually look up an IP address for the virtual server, create a new DNS record and update core network services.
Organizations are quickly realizing that manual processes don’t work. Spreadsheets, scripts and outdated IPAM tools lack the automation and scale needed to meet the current demands of mobility, virtualization and cloud, much less accommodate emerging technologies like software-defined networking (SDN) and machine-to-machine (M2M) that will put an even greater strain on a network infrastructure.
Without effective IPAM automation, organizations will be unable to:
- Automate and accelerate new cloud service provisioning
- Gain visibility and control of all connected devices across the data center and cloud
- Avoid cloud service disruptions resulting from manual configuration errors
- Ensure that every change in the data center and cloud is audited for security and compliance
- Proactively identify and secure rogue networks and wireless hotspots that put business at risk
4. The Cloud is Self-Service
Integrating automation and provisioning with a self-service portal will help enterprises improve user experience and quality of service, empowering users to rapidly self-provision a new virtual machine or cloud service.
To reduce the burden on the IT team, workload requests need to be made through a self-service portal that minimizes IT involvement and interactions. This is where an automated IPAM solution proves essential. With IPAM automation, the workload is instantaneously and automatically IP addressed, named and provisioned without any manual intervention from anyone within an IT team.
In addition to eliminating repetitive tasks that can bog down IT staff, automation and self-service makes a cloud network more reliable by connecting existing IT tools to the centralized DNS and IPAM data needed to validate network changes. Ensuring all core services changes associated with the service request including DNS are queued, validated and completed, dramatically reduces the risk of manual network configuration errors that can disrupt cloud services.
5. The IP is Key
Virtualization brings new security and compliance challenges. Organizations often lack visibility into how their virtual infrastructure and cloud services are using networks and IP address space. These network “blind spots” put businesses at risk of outages and security breaches.
As a central control point, IPAM provides an authoritative source for information about the cloud network. This rich source of network intelligence is essential for policy enforcement and to monitor which cloud applications are being accessed and by whom.
6. SDN and M2M are Next
Virtualization, cloud and mobile devices have transformed the network. The next wave of disruptive technologies will include software-defined networking (SDN) and the explosion of machine-to-machine (M2M) devices.
Tomorrow’s SDNs will be more dynamic, requiring automated IPAM solutions to provide real-time visibility into the network as it changes. IPAM will also bring control and policy enforcement to SDNs by allowing administrators to monitor and block specific devices and network traffic through DNS.
In addition to SDN, the M2M movement will create vast networks of sensors and data collection devices – everything from sensor grids to RFID tags to thermostats to wireless heart monitors and wearable tech will be connected to the network. The sheer volume and scale of M2M will make the transition to IPv6 inevitable, as the already scarce supply of IPv4 addresses will be insufficient. M2M simply isn’t possible without IPv6 and IPv6 DNS isn’t possible without IPAM automation as it’s too complex to manage manually with spreadsheets and traditional IPAM tools.
All in all, cloud is about immediacy. Business users expect to be able to rapidly self-provision a new cloud service or virtual machine. With a heterogeneous IPAM solution, critical network configuration tasks required by virtual data centers and private clouds can be fully automated to deliver the speed and agility users expect from the cloud. Furthermore, organizations that employ an intelligent, reliable and secure network foundation today will be much better prepared to take advantage of the next wave of network-dependent initiatives including SDN and M2M.
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