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IP Address Management Tools: best IPAM tools review

ip address managementMost network engineers understand the frustration of ip address management, especially when you work with a very large network. Being able to quickly and accurately find available ip addresses, know where each ip network range is located within the network, avoiding duplicate ip address assignments, and even still, know if the ip addresses in use is crucial.

Most network teams use spreadsheets of some kind or another to track ip addresses and this can work fine when your network is small. But as your network grows, the use of spreadsheets makes it harder and harder to accurately track and assign ip addresses.

With many organizations planning to migrate to IPv6, ip address management (IPAM) is being looked at more and more as a must have application, allowing the engineer to seamlessly track and plan the migration of your infrastructure to ipv6.

Having your ip addresses in a database is the easiest and most scalable approach to managing ip addresses. The problem with this solution is that is becomes exponentially more complex to setup your own database.

In this article we are going to review a few of the better ip address management solutions and let you know what we found was to be the best ip address solution for a very large network with a large network team.

Desktop IP address management solutions

For network engineers who have a small to medium sized network and possibly only one or two engineers managing the ip address space we recommend Solarwinds IP manager included with the Solarwinds Network Engineer toolset. The application has been around for a LONG time and it is extremely useful. I think most people the engineer tool kit just for this one tool. The Solarwinds Engineer’s Toolset isn’t cheap though, the current list price is about $1395 but it includes an entire suite of helpful tools for day-to-day use.

Client Server IP Address Management

When you start looking at server based IPAM solutions, most come integrated with DNS and DHCP. This allows for monitoring and management of not only your ip space but also the health of your DNS and DHCP servers.

solarwinds ip managementSolarwinds

Solarwinds again has a server based IP management application that is part it their Orion set of network management applications. This tool performs really well though in our test scenario it was running as part of the full Orion application set so we were not able to test scalability and performance. The nice thing about being part of Orion was that all of your network discovery data, switch port analysis, link status, etc., could be seen quickly in one Window.

IP Plan

IP PLAN is a free (GPL) web based IP management solution. The best part about IP Plan is that it’s FREE! It runs on most any linux distribution (also free) and runs well even in a VM.

IP plan supports ipv6 and even has a template system to extend the ip database to include extensible attributes allowing to you have fields for vlan, circuit ID, asset information, and any other information you may have stored in your excel spreadsheets.

The biggest drawback we found with IP Plan is that you have to be very comfortable with databases, linux, php and have the time to work with this tool to get it working and looking the way you want. Also, if you run into any issues at all, you’re on your own. IP Plan has no support center to call to bail you out when you screw up your database.

Straight out of the box it’s not pretty but very functional. If you have the time and skills to dedicate to setting up your IPAM tool then this is highly recommended.

Diamond IP

Diamond IP Little known BT Diamond IP is similar to IP Plan but definitely a step up. They’ve recently cleaned up the interface quite a bit in their recent release and this tool is looking very shiney… like a diamond? ( sorry I couldn’t resist)

This tool has all of the benefits of any of the widely known IPAM tools available today. Diamond IP is available as an appliance or as a software install for your own hardware. Supports ipv6 as well as templates and extensible attributes to allow for your database to grow and have extra information attached to your networks and hosts. It integrates well with existing DNS and DHCP services already existing in your environment. It is also fully supported so if you get yourself in a bind, you have the warm fuzzies of knowing that there are experts you can call 24×7. At least your boss will feel warm and fuzzy. And your finance and accounting team will love it as BT Diamond IP was the most affordable of appliances in our round up (besides IP Plan of course).

BlueCat Networks

bluecat ip address managementWe reviewed Bluecat networks 4 years ago and we touted it as the best solution out of our round up at that time. This year however we found Bluecat just a little lacking in a couple areas. It is still an amazing product and if you’re a fan of Bluecat then you will continue to be happy.

Bluecat used to be only available as an appliance and they have moved away from this model and incorporated software distributions of their applications that you can run on any VM in your environment. The interface is very clean and polished. If you are familiar with Microsoft DNS and that style of user interface then you will feel right at home with the Bluecat IPAM. We do have to admit that we only tested their Proteus IPAM product and did not look at their Triton Orchestration product. However for our requirements Proteus did most everything we needed it too.

The one area where Bluecat seemed to be lacking was in extending the database and adding templates and extensible attributes to your IPAM information. This for us was a big deal and was the main reason for giving Bluecat a slightly less spectacular review. One other ding for Bluecat was their price. They were the highest priced solution out of our round up.

Infoblox

ip address managementFinally in our review is Infoblox. Infoblox has come a long way and has always been a leader in DNS/DHCP/IPAM solutions. Any network engineer who owns or read the O’Reilly DNS book has seen the author name Cricket Liu. Cricket works at Infoblox and was Integral to the DNS grid architecture that Infoblox has become famous for.

With the Infoblox tool, DNS, DNCP, NTP, FILE Distribution and IPAM are all integrated into one appliance. Separate licensing unlocks each feature for use. The biggest benefit of the Infoblox IPAM solution was it’s scalability. This is due to the Infoblox signature grid technology that enables the various databases to be distributed and replicated throughout your environment. Rights and permissions were easy controlled throughout the distributed architecture. Authentication could be done by either Windows AD, TACACS, or local user.

Another big winner for Infoblox in this review was the extensibility of the database and templating. This was the best in our round up, by far, out of any of the other solutions. Attributes are easily added to either the network or the host. Attributes could be a simple text string, drop down list, email, date or URL. Also attributes could be required to force certain information to be included when an IP address is assigned. This we found was really helpful on a large team with many people many updates.

We also found the database to be easy to work with in bulk. We ran into a couple scenarios where we had to make sweeping changes to the entire ip database. To do this we were able to quickly and easily export the data into a CSV file, use Excel to make the modifications, save and re-import.

The one drawback we found with Infoblox IPAM tool was in the discovery. There was no ability to run scheduled scans of your ip space. You could only do manual discovery/scans. But what we did find was with the addition of Infoblox’s NetMRI tool our discovery issue was solved.

With NetMRI and IPAM together we had more data in one window than we ever had in any of the other tools combined. An example of some of the information you can see from this combination was: upstream switch name, port, vlan, link status, link speed, version of IOS of the upstream switch, mac to ip correlation, and more. Also NetMRI provides configuration management that is a must have in any large environment. The big problem was that you HAD to have NetMRI in order to have this level of functionality and detail in conjunction with IPAM.

Overall the Infoblox solution of IPAM/DNS/DHCP/NetMRI was cheaper than the Bluecat Adonis/Proteus combo and provided much more value by having a greater level of detail, network status and configuration management.

Summary

Depending on your personal scenario each solution was a winner in it’s own right.

If you were limited on your budget and had the skill set then we would recommend IP Plan. If you had a bit more money and wanted or needed the tech support and a more polished look, Diamond IP was your best bet. If you had a Windows shop and a team of engineers who were comfortable with the Windows style user interface, then Bluecat might be your choice.

But overall our recommendation is for the Infoblox product.

With the scalability of their grid technology, the extensibility of the database, and coupled with NetMRI for higher visibility and configuration management, this is an amazing tool that will make your day to day life so much easier.

What is your experience with IPAM tools and managing IP addresses?  What is your favorite tool?  Leave us a comment and let us know.

IP Address Management Tools: best IPAM tools review
5 (100%)

About Joe

Senior Network Engineer, technology enthusiast, guitar and bass player. Joe Wilson is the creator of RouterFreak.com as well as other niche websites that can be found around on the Internets.

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18 comments

  1. Hey Joe,
    Have you ever happen to work with Cisco Prime Network Registrar? If yes, do you mind to share the experience, pros and cons?
    Thanks!

  2. what about phpIpam

  3. Hi Joe, I was just thinking of looking my neteng contacts to get more background on ipam solutions. Great write up!

  4. Next to “Desktop” and “Client-Server”, i feel, yet another category can be added: IPAM as a Service. One example is Apterisk IPAM – https://www.apteriks.com/Products/IP-Address-Manager. It is free for SMB’s but lets you upgrade/downgrade in real time.

    SaaS based services are getting more and more popular, and the biggest showstopper is still a customer trust in a “remotely” deployed solution.

  5. Has anybody used/reviewed/compared Men and Mice IPAM with these?

    • I’ve worked with DNS One at two companies, then we recently installed Men and Mice for DDI at a good-sized corporate acquisition. The product is simple to use and ISC BIND compliant. Also has Microsoft AD support. Great software support for all platforms if you can handle Iceland support hours. We made frequent use of the scripting interfaces. I’m yet to see an InfoBlox deployment that’s as clean as what we deployed with MenAndMice. InfoBlox DNS One is just too big a product and has too many knobs to be able to have everything set correctly when there are many hands in the pot. As always, your mileage may vary.

      • Thanks for the plug Sir! I would be happy to expound on the functionality of The Men & Mice software overlay solution, including our new Redundant DNS Management feature across ALL platforms and Cloud Services from a “Single pane of glass” for anyone interested!

  6. Great post Joe,

    We just released our IPAM solution at http://ipam.lightmesh.com – would love to hear your thoughts and get some feedback. Send me an email if you want to kick the tires!

  7. After we went thru an RFP process we went with BlueCat, after using it for a short time it is a very easy tool to use for DHCP, IPAM and DNS. It allows for all our network needs, security, reliability and especially for those networks that Microsoft cannot support on a dynamic basis such as /25, /26, etc… . With the additional components of Automation manager we now have kiosk style DNS/IP/F5 configuration portals and with the flows process of Automation Manager we now have streamlined our servers provisioning process from our ticket process to auto pull/create DNS/IP data right into our build/decom processes. Also they provide a provisioning agent between VMware Orchestrator and BlueCat Address Manager that allows VMware to provision/de-provision DNS/IP on the fly. you really need to go and take another look at BlueCat again.

  8. I had tried IP Plan in the past (your link brings you to solarwinds, not IP Plan Sourceforge page) but it is no longer supported/updated.
    I am using GestioIP at the moment.
    But what I am missing that I can get from a spreadsheet is the ability to say if you pick this subnet for an application, you need to pick these two others as well.
    Anyone have any ideas for tools that support this?
    BTW, discovery and DNS/DHCP are not required.

    • Me again, since my last comment in 2013 we have been working with quite a few of the other vendors including Infoblox, Bluecat and BT Diamond IP – if you want something that allocates more than one subnet at a time, e.g. for this application allocate x other subnets too, take a look at BT Diamond IP – it has the ability to do this.

  9. We have good experience with the free IPAM solution GestióIP (www.gestioip.net)

  10. I am going to go with Paul – I have used them all and Efficient IP is by far the best. Its the fastest and the only one that allows you to manage your existing Microsoft and ISC (BIND & DHCP) servers so you do not have replace your entire infrastructure. Great product.

  11. Interesting review but you missed off Efficient IP – really if you are going to do reviews like this you should at least include all the products that Gartner recognise in their Marketscope reports. Efficient IP SOLIDserver has some incredible features that are not available in any other product, I know because I have worked with most of them over the past 15 years and we chose them to launch our business with! 🙂

  12. Why was Alcatel-Lucent VitalQIP which is the most flexible and scaling not included in the article.

    • The two little guys (Infoblox & Bluecat) grew up to be the gorillas and left the giants of the early 2000’s in the dust (QIP, Metaip, Network Registrar).

      Seemingly overnight it became a new marketplace but that’s what happens when big names acquire an otherwise decent product (QIP) and bookshelf it in a backoffice somewhere so they can say they have a play with their other net mgt tools of former (but shrinking) glory.. All while cutting development & support staff.

  13. We found Infoblox more expensive than Bluecat for our non-profit, but both sure are
    better than MS….

  14. We have been using device42 (http://www.device42.com) for our IPAM and data center inventory management and it does a great job with a very affordable price tag.

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