Considering how critical the DNS and DHCP servers are to any organization, and with many organizations having local DNS/ DHCP services in multiple locations, its high time that a centralized management approach is brought to them which can also provide redundancy and high availability of these services. Moving DNS, DHCP and IP Address management out of the Network Operating System/ Individual servers, to centralized Infoblox appliances has multiple advantages.
Today, with organizations distributed across many locations, each location has its own DNS/ DHCP servers and for small branches/ home offices, the same is provided remotely. Mostly, these services are provided by the network operating system / open source applications. While they have good management functionalities, managing DHCP, DNS services over multiple locations has always been a challenge and down-time is inevitable if a server hosting DHCP/DNS services goes down. Actually it affects all the other services!
With network convergence, more and more devices are coming over to the IP platform which in turn increases the number of IP addresses that needs to be allocated and managed for all these devices. Hitherto, companies used spreadsheets or custom scripts to keep track of these IP addresses. While this works for smaller organizations with limited branches, larger ones with thousands of IP addresses needs to invest in a lot of time just for tracing which IP address has been allocated to which device, allocation of new IP addresses, and in general managing IP addresses.
Infoblox, centralizes the management of DNS, DHCP and IP Addresses with a single Graphical User Interface across multiple locations. Infoblox is a hardware appliance purpose built for the above mentioned application and works excellently for and especially distributed deployments using its GRID technology. A GRID enables real time exchange of information between multiple Infoblox appliances in various locations (through a secure VPN connectivity between them) in order to update any changes done in the central GUI Interface/ one appliance, to all of them.
One of the main advantages of GRID is its ability to provide redundancy to the critical DNS and DHCP applications. This can be provided by having two appliances next to each other in HA mode (or) by designating one appliance in a GRID as master and many others as slave, which can become the master upon failure of the master appliance. Even the database (bloxSDB) that stores the DNS/DHCP records are unified and replicated over multiple appliances.
Infoblox allows splitting the management in to multiple zones (based on location, branch etc) and each zone can be individually administered by a separate admin, if required. Sub-delegation of the administrative tasks is also supported by Infoblox. Further, Infoblox appliances can export detailed logs to a centralized Syslog server.
For DNS, a single DNS service with a single IP address can be advertised, while in actuality, the DNS service might be served through multiple DNS appliances in multiple locations with global load distribution and high availability, built in. The GRID provides for real time DDNS updates across all the Infoblox appliances in the GRID. Further, common DNS attacks (mis-matched DNS message ID’s and mis-matched UDP ports) are monitored and reported immediately in order to enable their mitigation.
Infoblox provides multiple options for centralized management of standard as well as custom DHCP configuration and settings. There is a captive portal provided by Infoblox which enables DHCP lease temporarily for guest access and AD/ Radius authentication for internal employees before leasing out the DHCP addresses.
The IP Address management module is an interesting feature as a single GUI interface manages all the IP addresses, MAC addresses, usage statistics, device type, location and many other parameters over multiple branches. It gives a clear picture about all the IP addresses in use (in each network) and also about all the IP addresses that are free as well as conflicting. This enables administrators to identify and reclaim unused IP addresses as well as assign new IP addresses to devices without bothering about DHCP conflicts etc. Administrators can also set a threshold value for each network, and Infoblox will notify the admin when the number of IP addresses cross a particular upper limit.
IP Address management module can search for devices on the entire network and classify them as active/ unmanaged / unauthorized etc automatically or with the input of the administrator.
Infoblox allows the administrator to split the network easily and have the resulting sub-networks inherit the configuration of the parent network. It also allows to combine smaller networks in to a bigger network without losing any of the configuration (fixed addresses/ dynamic configuration etc).
So, basically Infoblox enables automation and centralized management of critical DNS, DHCP, IP Address Management services across multiple locations through a single, easy to use graphical user interface. It also provides High Availability and redundancy for these critical services so that the network uptime can be guaranteed in large, dispersed networks. What more, you can even integrate the Infoblox appliances with the Microsoft Active Directory services so that the existing AD implementations can be retained and managed centrally.
For further information on Infoblox, do visit their website. In case you live in India, and are looking to buy Infoblox appliances for your organization/ company in India, do let us know using the contact form so that we could pass on the same to our friends who are dealing with the same in India.
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