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What is IPAM (IP Address Management)

What is IPAM (IP Address Management)?

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If you manage the network of a company, you have to deal with its IP addresses. In fact, it is important that you remember all the networks and VLANs you have, and where you have them. Many company start small and do not keep track of their network at all. When things grow, they tend to keep everything into an Excel file. However, this approach do not work well for large networks: that’s when you need an IPAM. In this post we will see what is an IPAM (IP Address Management system) and when you should use one.

What is a IPAM?

IPAM stands for IP Address Management, and it is a category of software that help you document your network. Specifically, it contains all the networks you have, the related VLANs, and the site or physical location where they are. Of course, you can also add descriptions and additional fields to each network. Generally, an IPAM is a web appliance: a server hosting a website where you can go and get information about your network. This way, you don’t have to work with several Excel files ensuring everyone has an up-to-date copy. Instead, everyone can go to your IPAM and look for the most up-to-date IP addresses.

Some IPAM platforms have some discovery features, meaning they can automatically discover your network. However, most of the leg work is up to you: you will have to enter manually the network and their descriptions, ensuring everything is up-to-date.

At this point, it should be pretty clear what is an IPAM if you are familiar to the work of a network engineer. Yet, it is worth mentioning that not all companies can afford running a server just for managing IP addresses. Typically, there is no justification to do that in small companies, where a simple Excel file is enough. Instead, it is an absolute must-have if you are an enterprise, or a company with many sites even in a single country.

Where I can get an IPAM?

There are several alternatives when it comes to IPAM platforms, both free and paid. You may think that an enterprise has the need for a paid platform with enterprise-grade support, and this is true. However, not all platforms offer the same features, so it is worth checking that first. Here are four famous IPAMs.

  • Infoblox is the current market leader, and it is a paid solution. Despite being the market leader, I found it extremely limited and clumsy in its interface, up to the point that we never put it in production in our company, despite having paid for it. Infoblox offers additional features that go beyond IPAM, like DNS management.
  • Bluecat is another paid option worth checking out, it poses itself as an alternative to Infoblox.
  • phpIPAM is an open-source option with a nice interface and many features.
  • GestióIP is another free option, with premium features available at a limited price. I’ve been sticking with it at our company for many years, and it is very simple and does its job. A great option if you only need an IPAM.
What is an IPAM? An IPAM is a platform to manage IP addresses in a company, and phpIPAM is an open-source IPAM.
The logo of phpIPAM.

You can use the links in the list to navigate to the websites of the various IPAM solutions.

Conclusion

To wrap things up, an IPAM is a software in the form of a website where you store and check information about your IP addresses. It is an important piece of the IT infrastructure for large companies, whereas it may not be worth it for smaller ones. If you are first deploying an IPAM, I suggest going with free alternatives like phpIPAM or GestióIP. Then, you can evaluate if the upgrade to a more enterprise-grade solution is worth it.

What do you think about the importance of IPAM? Do you know other products that can do this job? Let me know in the comments.

Picture of Alessandro Maggio

Alessandro Maggio

Project manager, critical-thinker, passionate about networking & coding. I believe that time is the most precious resource we have, and that technology can help us not to waste it. I founded ICTShore.com with the same principle: I share what I learn so that you get value from it faster than I did.
Picture of Alessandro Maggio

Alessandro Maggio

Project manager, critical-thinker, passionate about networking & coding. I believe that time is the most precious resource we have, and that technology can help us not to waste it. I founded ICTShore.com with the same principle: I share what I learn so that you get value from it faster than I did.

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Alessandro Maggio

2019-09-05T16:30:32+00:00

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