4. IP Address Management

In order to deal with the unusual structure of the collegiate University, the DNS and DHCP services run by OUCS are understandably rather complex in their configuration. A decade ago, when the current web-based IP Address Management (IPAM) system was written in OUCS, it was a necessary undertaking to support our devolved IT model as no suitable software existed at the time with similar features.

Over time we have augmented the web services as resources have allowed. Inevitably there is also a list of feature requests which we have been unable to fulfil. Later in 2009 the complete infrastructure providing DNS and DHCP will be due for replacement, so we started to evaluate commercial alternatives, or funding of continued development within the department.

Following this investigation we conducted an on-site evaluation of an IPAM system by BlueCat Networks. The product is a complete replacement for the current DNS and DHCP infrastructure, including web management and back-end service provision. The OUCS Networks team is satisfied that the replacement system will meet all our current service requirements and there will be a number of additional significant service improvements for IT Officers.

In particular, much more control will be devolved to the IT staff of a unit, effectively reducing the need to email Hostmaster with change requests. The better integration of DNS, IP address management, and DHCP, provides a much improved user experience, and the web interface far surpasses what we would be able to develop in-house. Being able to support IPv6 was a key issue as we are gearing up to its deployment in the University. We hope to enable a SOAP-based API to both DNS and DHCP, on request, to IT staff.

The new IPAM deployment will be a significant undertaking for the team, and so we have pencilled two windows for changeover to the new service. If planning and integration proceed well, then we will migrate before the start of Michaelmas term 2009. Otherwise, we will wait until the middle of term.

Your users will see no change in service, but we know you will want to familiarize yourselves with the new web interface, so we will avoid the start of term for disruptive work. We also intend to collborate with ITS3 to provide training or open workshop sessions on the new interface. We will email you as further details are settled.

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