Success in the digital era requires a significant rethink of IT strategy. Technology approaches have historically focused on the compute platforms, but in today’s digital world where billions of devices are being connected and the cloud and mobility have become the norm, IT strategies must become network-centric.
In a digital organization, the network will evolve from being a tactical resource into a high-value, strategic asset that will have a direct impact on the success of new business initiatives.
However, if the network is to become the foundation for the digital enterprise, it must evolve to do the following:
- Ensure the availability, flexibility and scalability of digital services.
- Provide security that cuts across silos and eases operations.
- Automate compliance tasks.
- Unlock meaningful insights to transform the organization.
- Provide full visibility and operational efficiency to make the network a competitive differentiator.
Accomplishing the above requires IT to find a way to control and automate processes. This can be achieved through the use of actionable network intelligence (ANI) that ensures network and service availability, improves risk management and operational efficiencies, and transforms the network into a competitive advantage.
Gathering and making sense of network information to make it actionable is challenging because it consists of a growing number of infrastructure elements and endpoints. DDI is a set of network tools that becomes essential to gleaning network intelligence because the platforms sit at the core of the network. For those who aren’t familiar with the DDI acronym, it stands for DNS, DHCP and IP address management.
- The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical naming system for computer systems and other resources connected to the internet and private networks. It uses a variety of information associated with domain names and translates those names into numerical IP addresses, making DNS an essential component of the internet.
- Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is a standardized protocol used on IP networks to dynamically assign IP addresses to network-connected endpoints. The automation capabilities of a DHCP server obviate the need for a network administrator to configure these settings manually.
- IP address management (IPAM) tools are used to plan, track and manage IP addresses within an organization. Without an IPAM tool, network managers often use spreadsheets, general-purpose databases or homegrown tools to manage IP addresses. These manual methods are highly error prone and inexact, and they can lead to significant network issues.
Although the three functions may seem independent, they are not. IPAM integrates DNS and DHCP information so that each is aware of changes in the other and can update accordingly. DDI tools are increasing in importance as more devices connect to business networks.
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In addition to providing core network services, a DDI platform captures both east-west traffic and north-south traffic on the network. That means it sees which applications are being accessed by which users, which devices are joining the network, and which interactions may be malicious.
Actionable network intelligence built on a foundation of DDI is based on three pillars:
- Control the network. DDI provides control of core network services by automating IP address management for on-premises and in-cloud infrastructure and by integrating with other network technologies via APIs to automate and orchestrate critical tasks.
- Secure the network. Insights and intelligence derived from DDI data can be shared across the ecosystem and used to ease security operations by helping security teams prioritize threat responses based on enterprise context and risk.
- Analyze the network. DDI data can be captured and then trending information can be used to monitor the health and security of the network. Also, the status of key capacity parameters can be tracked and measured over time to ensure the expansion of core network services matches the growth of the network. Also, network information can be used to understand which devices are out of compliance and which devices require remedial action.
The network connects all devices and endpoints and is in a unique position to provide unparalleled levels of data. ANI should be an integral part of the IT infrastructure required in the ever-expanding digital economy because it can help enable better business outcomes.
If you want to learn more about ANI, join Infoblox and me for a webinar on Dec. 1 where we will discuss use cases and the role ANI plays in improving a wide variety of business and IT roles, including network and security operations, cloud professionals and executive decision makers.