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IPAM: The Foundation of the Modern ISP

December 6, 2016 | EfficientIP |

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To deliver IT services successfully you need a system of record- one place that holds the details of all the devices running on your network, where they are and what they are doing. In most modern service management methodologies, that one place is a configuration management database, where service managers monitor and control changes.

But in the cloud and at scale that, model breaks down. That’s why ISPs and telcos are starting to take a different approach to finding the one truth for their networks: where consumer and business devices are connecting to resources across fixed and mobile connections, and where the device that was connected to a network yesterday might not be connected today. These are networks where users do many different things, using resources differently; one day reading email and sending replies, the next binge-watching every episode of a top drama streamed from services like Netflix.

IPAM for service management

Instead of a Configuration Management Database (CMDB), IP Address Management is at the heart of telco and ISP business. However, it’s not just any IPAM, as it must be one that can handle the scale of a modern distributed network, mixing an ever-increasing amount of customer premises equipment with cloud services. These businesses need to have an IPAM solution that is scalable, and offers rich API set and other integration points as the hub of their entire management platform, feeding CMDBs, help desks, provisioning, and other key functions.

If service providers don’t have a scalable and integrated solution, they are going to have multiple versions of the truth (without a complete view of the IP addresses they’ve deployed and how they’ve been deployed). With an appropriately scalable IPAM that links into the rest of their business systems, they will be able to automate much of their core operations, as well as delegate part of the IPAM process to other departments, reducing bottlenecks.

Building a service platform around IPAM can also help with more than just understanding what’s currently deployed. It can also help make sure that users are on the correct plan. Are they using the right number of IP addresses, and do they need more or fewer addresses? Are they using multicast streaming services, or do they need to be offered access to the appropriate VLAN for specific media services? IPAM-based service management lets an ISP be proactive, reducing the risk of errors in provisioning and in service deployment. It’s an approach that allows a service provider to optimize Quality of Service (QoS) for its users by limiting the risk of errors.

IPAM in action

One of our ISP customers is running IP address discovery daily; automating its IP Address Management. It can detect what’s connected to each port in its network, scanning thousands of ports every morning, giving it a view of exactly what using its network and services.

IPAM is the center of its service management model, acting as the single source of truth that underpins every element of its services, including its more traditional configuration management database. By using IPAM as a key repository for its services, the ISP can automate many other key functions, orchestrating its cloud services and using it to manage QoS for its users. The result has been a series of significant cost savings, as well as a better overall service for its users.

With IPAM-based service management showing positive results for users, it’s an approach that any ISP or telco should consider, especially as it can improve customer relationships and help with long-term retention and growth.

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