BlueCat launches virtual version of IPAM gear

A Canadian manufacturer is offering IP address management (IPAM) software for VMware Inc.’s ESX hypervisor, which an analyst says is attractive to companies looking to reduce capital spending on network infrastructure.

Toronto-based BlueCat Networks Inc. recently announced its Proteus and Adonis products will now be available as “virtual appliances,” meaning users can download files and create virtual machine instances of them.

“Anything you can do in our physical appliances you can do in our virtual appliances,” said Branko Miskov, BlueCat’s director of product management.

BlueCat’s hardware includes Proteus 5000, which is designed to let administrators manage Domain Name System (DNS) and Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) services on the network. The Adonis 250 is a DNS caching appliance while the Adonis 1000 and 1750 support both DNS and DHCP.

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The virtual versions are available for download for a 15 days free evaluation.

“A lot of organizations are moving away from buying a specialized box for each system or each application that you want to run, because you run into a situation where you have 10, 20, or 30 boxes in a data centre all doing their own specific task, and in many cases none of them are actually running to their full capacity,” Miskov said. “You have unused hardware, you have unused CPU, and there’s also the electricity cost, the rack space cost, so being able to consolidate that is a huge boon for customers.”

The products would be attractive for companies that have had their capital budgets cut, because the subscription-based pricing lets companies use their operating budgets for IPAM, said Jayanth Angl, senior research analyst with the London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group.

“The hardware consolidation benefits, helping organizations reduce their overall footprint, that is certainly going to be attractive to many,” Angl said.

But Angl added the hardware version lets administrators separate IP address management (IPAM) from the rest of the server infrastructure.

“You have these appliances that fit in with the other network devices and those are the sole accountability of the network team,” Angl said. “When you move that back into server infrastructure, it could be a concern that you’re moving to a situation where network operations doesn’t have sole control over these key network services. I’m not saying that it’s going to be a barrier (to adoption) but for some it may be something they want to consider.”

Miskov said Adonis and Proteus are available for VMware Server and ESXi.

“On the Proteus side we limit the number of connected Adonises,” Miskov said. “So when you buy a 2150 virtual appliance, you’re allowed to connect up to 20 Adonis systems and when you buy a Proteus 5000 virtual appliance you’re allowed to connect more than 20 Adonises.”

He added the virtual IPAM appliances let users recover from disasters.

“In a virtual environment if you take snapshots of your virtual appliance that you’re running for DNS and DCHP, if one goes down can then just load up a snapshot that you’ve taken and you’re off to the races.”

Key features of BlueCat’s technology include integrated workflow where managers can approve changes on the network. It also has “sophisticated network discovery tools” that can track of IP addresses, reclaim unused IP addresses and detecting unauthorized IP address space.

IP address management is becoming more important as organizations add more types of electronic devices, including phones and cameras, to their networks, Angl said.

“Some organizations are well beyond servers and workstations,” he said. “We’re looking at IP phones, security cameras that are IP enabled.”

BlueCat is also including DNS Security Exentsions (DNSSec) on its products, Miskov said, adding it will have customers go live with the technology this month.

Concerns over DNS security heightened when Dan Kaminsky, director of penetration testing services for IOActive Inc., discovered a flaw in the technology last summer.

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