SolarWinds adds IP address manager

SolarWinds has become the latest company to offer an IP address manager in an effort to wean network administrators away from overseeing hundreds of addresses on pieces of paper.

“If you ask every network guy what they have in their office, it’s a drawing of their network on a white board and an Excel spreadsheet to list IP addresses,” said Kenny Van Zant, SolarWinds’ senior vice-president and chief product strategist. Orion IP Address Manager aims to automate much of the work of discovering and controlling addresses to help minimize IP conflicts.

Companies often designate several administrators to allocate IP addresses, Van Zant said. For example, one person may look after Windows desktop users, another oversees servers while third allocates addresses for network devices. Orion IPAM can give a single screen overview for all in a single repository, while limiting access to individuals.

It’s server-based software that can run standalone or as a module for Orion Network Performance Manager. If the latter, administrators can view a node’s detailed biography on a single screen, including complete fault and performance statistics. Network scans can be scheduled to run automatically, and scans can be split into subnets. For example, mobile subnets could be scanned more often than subnets with more static IPs. Also, addresses can be segmented to be managed manually or automatically.

The application can also designate addresses. For example, if a static IP goes offline during a maintenance update and is not reachable, it will configured as transient so it can’t be assigned. The application also lets users create customized Top 10 lists of subnets in a variety of categories including IP space.

Orion IPAM ships with Microsoft SQL Server Express to serve as the address repository.

Jim Frey, research director for network management at Enterprise Management Associates of Boulder, Colo., said SolarWinds “has done a pretty nice job of finding something that is not done well and providing a tool that can make it simple to manage IP addresses.”

Orion IPAM competes against applications from companies such as Toronto’s BlueCat Networks, which recently released a version of its IPAM for VMware environments, AdventNetwhich includes address management in its OpUtils tools, InfoBlox’s IPAM WinConnect as well as a number of open source applications. However, Frey said the shareware apps are more suited for small organizations.

Like InfoBlox, SolarWinds also offers a free version of Orion IPAM, called IP Address Tracker, which has fewer features than its big brother. For example, it only does manual network sweeps.

Frey said that IP address management applications are significantly better for avoiding address conflicts than a spreadsheet. “One of the things that often gets overlooked is reclaiming address once they’re no longer used,” he pointed out.

Pricing of Orion IPAM runs from US$1,995 is based on the number of IP addresses managed. The base price could cover 1,016 addresses (or four Class C subnets of 254 addresses). Versions are priced at 4,000, 16,000 and unlimited addresses.

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