Windows Server 2012 makes IP management easy -- even IPv6

IP management just got a little simpler, with IPAM utility for IPv4 and useful tips for IPv6

This week I'm at the TechMentor conference in Orlando, Fla., where I'm delivering several Exchange sessions. While at the show, I've also been able to drop in on a few sessions and pick up new tips for Windows Server 2012.

Don Jones, cofounder of the consultancy Concentrated Technologies, gave an interesting session on a new feature in Windows Server 2012 called IP Address Management (IPAM), an agentless, multiserver, multiservice management tool that allows for IP management. Currently available in version 1.0, IPAM has room for growth, but it's worth considering if you use Microsoft DNS and DHCP.

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IPAM must go on a member server running Windows Server 2012 with a GUI -- no Server Core here. It's installed as a feature, not a role, through Server Manager, although you could use PowerShell to add it (Install-WindowsFeature IPAM -IncludeManagementTools). Upon configuration, it's essential to read the wizard's instructions carefully so that you can provision the server properly.

You can configure provisioning manually or through a group policy object. The manual method gives you more control, but Jones mentioned he's never been able to get IPAM to work that way; again, it's a 1.0 feature, so it has some quirks. Alternatively, GPO is the easier method. For a complete set of instructions, check out the TechNet article "Step by step: Configure IPAM to manage your IP address space."

IPAM goes through a discovery process and finds your DNS, DHCP, and domain controllers. It compiles all the data it gathers into one GUI. It's primarily focused on IPv4 -- a pain point for many admins -- and allows you to view, monitor, and manage IPv4 addresses. It can even track which user is using which IP address, and it provides reporting and sorting back to the admin. In addition, it can detect overlapping ranges, find free addresses, and create reservations and DHCP records.

The auditing and tracking features are interesting because IPAM will audit pretty much everything. In addition, it tracks your leases and user logins. On the negative side, there is no router/switch address consistency. Also, IPAM doesn't address IPv6; the tool was built to address an immediate need with IPv4 management.

Perhaps you hadn't heard about IPAM until now, but it's worth checking out. I'm looking forward to the 2.0 version to see how it evolves.

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