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Greg Ness

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New CIO Acronyms: DNS, DHCP and IPAM

Today's Challenges become Tomorrow's Pitfalls

Cloud computing and virtualization are promising more dynamic systems with unprecedented cost savings; and network industry leaders are promising more dynamic networks capable of keeping up with the increased rate of change (with these systems). In order for the benefits to be delivered as promised IT will need to evolve from silos into multifunctional teams, and vendors will need to concomitantly embrace their partners like never before. This process is already underway.

I recently addressed the three biggest barriers to cloud: security, network capacity and network management. These barriers will likely be addressed via new and cloud-strategic partnerships of various kinds as the silos of legacy IT converge into pre-configured containers blending multiple vendor offerings that can be scaled up and out to maximize flexibility and cost savings.

Assessing the Leaders

VMware has been the most active of the virtualization players in addressing the new demands of virtualization security. Whether Microsoft and Citrix continue to rely upon partners (or internal development) or make strategic acquisitions of one or more of the virtualization security startups remains to be seen. Ultimately it will be their ability to address customer security demands that will establish their solutions as a clear path to secure, scalable cloud deployments.

On the network capacity side you have to be impressed with the way that Cisco's UCS with its new cloud angle is evolving. Network World certainly liked their Catalyst 6500 in a recent review. At this point they seem to be ahead of the network switch pack; although rival Juniper has announced a partnership with IBM and more scalability and density for service providers. Juniper's historic core strength with service providers cannot be underestimated as packs of cloud service providers emerge.

F5 Networks earlier announced their enhanced software for managing dynamic infrastructure (or infrastructure 2.0- a term for a network capable of supporting virtualization and cloud). Their expertise with application delivery gives them a potent point of leverage. Cisco, Juniper and F5 all understand the implications of the coming sea change in IT and are shaping their offerings to build the roadmap for their customers.

DNS, DHCP and IPAM- The Front Line

In between today's growing, increasingly complex and dynamic networks and the promise of cloud computing are layers of challenges driven at least in part by legacy IT. IT services at the enterprise level have been managed by silos of networking teams, security teams, server teams, operations teams, data center teams, etc. As VMotion is fully enabled, many of those silos will become costly and irrelevant.

While applications and networks and systems are containerized into holistic and replicable offerings, the services that connect and coordinate and deliver them will require unprecedented automation as the silos dissolve and teams begin sharing resources and responsibilities. As enterprises plan this evolution, IPAM (or sometimes IP management) will cross the chasm in the company of integrated DNS, DHCP, network monitoring and other core network services.

Very few CIOs today are familiar with DNS or DHCP; expect that to change as IT begins planning its evolution to infrastructure 2.0. They will become as critical to CIOs as maps are to generals.

Across IT these dedicated, integrated and automated DNS services will be the front lines as systems decouple from hardware and the importance of knowing the location and history of IT assets grows exponentially with increasing rates of change and complexity. Today the spreadsheets and manual configuration requirements are already wearing network teams thin. Mix in accelerating change and complexity and you have obvious operational breaking points.

As networks grow and become more complex their management costs escalate even faster. Core network services, therefore, become critical to availability and security, in the same way that the LAN and WAN became critical components of new IT delivery strategies as enterprises moved employees to personal computers and networked services and then spread computing to branches, teleworkers and partners.

Today the IT strategy list is much larger (including VoIP, wireless/RFID, NAC, Web and eCommerce/supply chain); the services are more critical.

Hence it is likely that CIOs and IT VPs will become increasingly aware of the connectivity intelligence challenges inherent with increasingly large and dynamic infrastructure and these new acronyms. If they don't, many of the consolidation benefits from cloud will be offset by the rising manual network management requirements tied to complexity and velocities of change, not to mention reduced network availability.

If you don't see this coming check out the netbook revolution that is already unfolding, introducing the prospect of even more endpoint growth and ever more reliance on the network. The enterprise cloud is under construction; and before cloud accelerating endpoint growth appears to be a predictable eventuality for most companies.

The success of the larger IT vendors who want to migrate their customers away from silos and into unified fabrics will depend on their ability to automate these manual tasks. You can read more about this at "Clouds, Networks and Recessions".

As vendors aim for the clouds they'll need to address more than security and throughput/capacity. They'll need to embrace automation with solutions which are integrated with DNS, DHCP and IP address management or IPAM. CIOs overseeing these growing and increasingly strategic networks may soon become familiar with acronyms once considered too mundane for executive interest. Those who don't may end up wondering why things don't go as smoothly as promised.

More Stories By Greg Ness

Greg Ness is a Silicon Valley marketing veteran with background in networking, security, virtualization and cloud computing. He is VP Marketing at CloudVelocity. Formerly at Vantage Data Centers, Infoblox, Blue Lane Technologies, Juniper Networks, Redline Networks, McAfee, IntruVerofficer at Networks and ShoreTel. He is one of the world's top cloud bloggers.