What Is IPAM in Networking? – IP Address Management Technical Overview

Entuity Software

John Diamond Sr. Solutions Architect, Product
John Diamond Published: July 17, 2023

There is a “multitude of separate resources” that are juggled when managing an IT environment. These resources range from equipment deployed to ports or interfaces. For example, ethernet switches to end user workstations. Ports need to be monitored to stay within capacity.

Bandwidth is another resource, pushing too much data down the pipe will lead to constraints. These constraints can be solved by a bigger pipe or data offload and limiting the amount of traffic flowing.

IP addresses are another form of resources. When IP address spaces are organized, IP address ranges are allocated for certain purposes around an organization. They could be allocated by geographic location like campuses or regions. Ideally, never use up all the IP addresses so that there are always more are available for any unforeseen requirements.

What Is IPAM?

IPAM stands for network IP Address Management. It is the act of administering and regulating IP addresses inside a network. Devices such as PCs, servers, routers, and other network devices are linked to an IP-based network and given unique IP addresses.

IPAM comprises the organization, distribution, monitoring, and management of IP addresses to guarantee dependable and effective network operations. It offers a centralized method or software that assists network administrators in efficiently managing IP addresses.

IT monitoring and management requires being aware of resource constraints and utilization. It is important to avoid surprises that require the performance of unnatural acts. The basis of IPAM monitoring allows organizations to keep track of how many IP addresses are being used, where, and in which parts of the network. Not planning for changes now forces unwanted and undesirable acts to be performed in case of emergencies.

Example of IPAM

Infoblox is an example of IPAM, where the resources being used are monitored and managed. DNS and DHCP services are provided. Most organizations have some form of DNS and DHCP services already, it’s rare not to have both. Even if an all-encompassing suite is not being used, such as the one from Infoblox, the monitoring of what is already being used is relevant.

Before DHCP was adopted, organizations used to manually track and allocate in notebooks or spreadsheets. Now the industry standard is to use dynamically managed IP addresses and DHCP for more efficient tracking.

4 IPAM Challenges

IPAM challenges continuously arise since the technology world is always evolving. Careful design, deployment, and continuous management of IPAM systems are required to meet IPAM challenges. Here are four main challenges:

1. Gathering Usage Information

Obtaining precise and current usage data is one of the difficulties with IPAM. This entails keeping track of how IP addresses are used inside the network and keeping a list of allotted and free addresses.

2. IP Address Population

Another difficult element of IPAM is understanding the population of IP addresses, including which addresses are in use and how many are assigned.

3. Identifying Available Headroom

Precise headroom estimation is essential for efficient IP address management. Due to changing network settings and various allocation patterns, headroom estimation can be a challenging process. To solve the issue of not knowing how much headroom is left in IP address ranges, IPAM systems with utilization tracking, planning tools, alarms, IP address reclamation capabilities, and subnetting choices offer helpful assistance.

4. IP Allocation & Hostnames Associated with Each IP

Hostname-to-IP address mappings in IPAM systems must be managed effectively using a combination of automated procedures, DNS integration, and manual tracking. Administrators may get around the difficulties of keeping track of hostnames and IP addresses by utilizing the features of IPAM systems, which will speed up troubleshooting and improve network administration.

The decision between on-premises and cloud-based IPAM is dependent on several variables. These variables include organizational needs, security concerns, financial constraints, and existing infrastructure. While some businesses choose the control and customization possibilities of on-premises IPAM, others place a higher value on the scalability, usability, and ease of maintenance provided by cloud-based IPAM systems.

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is related to IPAM, but they are not the same thing. DNS, DHCP, and IPAM may also be referred to collectively as DDI.

The DNS server allocates human-understandable host names to IP addresses. DHCP makes sure that within the restricted ranges, only one host uses each IP address at any moment. The resources are allocated an address for a “lease time” during which they can use that IP address. Their network connection has a worldwide unique MAC address – the MAC and IP addresses are associated and remembered by the DHCP server so that it can access utilities for which it has a “lease.”

For example, if a lease period is only 12 hours, new IP addresses are allocated frequently like workstations at an office. This is not usually an issue for “ordinary” end users but can be difficult when reporting on NetFlow where traffic is associated between certain hosts based on IP addresses. Users shuffling through different IP addresses make it difficult to report on specific user activity. Some organizations increase their lease times to stop that level of churn in the IPs.

Increasing the lease time has consequences; increasing lease time to 30 days means that the given IP address is allocated to the given host for 30 days. If all IP addresses are actively being used, the DHCP server isn’t going to allocate more because it does not have more to allocate. Low lease times can lead to more available capacity but complicates the tracking ability. High lease times make for simple tracking but complicates resourcing of IP addresses.

It is a matter of what is typical vs. what is a theoretical extreme. Finding an economically responsible middle ground is the goal. And, without a good understanding of which IPs are being used, IP resourcing models cannot be built.

How Does IPAM Work?

Getting new IP addresses depends on public vs. private IP addresses. Most organizations have several public IP addresses that form their Internet presence. This can be their outbound Internet connection or publicly accessible resources that are given to them by the Internet authority.


Internally, they use private IP addresses. These are not allocated to them by the Internet authority, but they are taken from the recognized private IP address spaces. Organizations allocate what they want and there is no need for unique allocation between companies, organizations, or even households because they are not exposed to the Internet, and they are local to that organization or household.

Examples of internal resources are anything in the organization like servers, PCs, workstations, printers (anything connected to the network internally). Typically, a private address is allocated and there is no need to coordinate with anyone outside of the organization. From outside the organization, there is no direct access from the Internet to any of these addresses under normal circumstances.

The Entuity network monitoring software uses any combination of “ping” and reverse DNS to support its IPAM functionality. Ping is where IP addresses are checked (or “pinged”) to make sure they are responding. Reverse DNS is when an IP is provided, and the associated hostname is returned.

There is another approach using the ARP protocol, which stands for address resolution protocol. This involves ARP sources like routers to identify which IP address is associated with each MAC address. These relationships may have been allocated by the DHCP server. Entuity asks the ARP server for all the IP addresses that it has MAC addresses for within the address ranges it is interested in.

4 Benefits of IPAM

Organizations gain a variety of advantages from IPAM, such as effective IP address distribution, improved network observability, and increased network security. Organizations also use IPAM to simplify network administration duties, increase network security, and decrease network downtime. Below we will explore four main benefits:

1. Improved Capacity Planning

Improved network capacity planning is also referred to as “headroom planning.” It is an essential part of network administration that offers centralized management and oversight of IP address distribution, use, and tracking. Organizations may better understand their network resources, distribute IP addresses in an efficient manner, and prepare for future expansion by including IPAM into their capacity planning procedures.

2. Streamlined IPv4 and IPv6 Management

To assure optimal use and seamless functioning of both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses, organizations encompass the procedures, instruments, and methods used to allocate, track, and preserve IP addresses.

Organizations ensure effective IP address space use, lower operational complexity, decrease address conflicts, and promote the smooth functioning of their network infrastructure by employing simplified IPv4 and IPv6 management procedures.

3. Simplified Compliance

IPAM streamlines IP address management procedures and offers the required tools and capabilities to successfully manage IP addresses in a compliant way.

Internal organization policies need compliance. For example, under normal circumstances, what percentage of IPs should be kept unused? Planning for headroom will minimize the risk of exceeding the physical limit and inhibiting efficient use of employee time or preventing service operation.

Regularly exceeding the headroom policy allows companies to add more available IP addresses. Lease times can also be shortened if it doesn’t have serious negative reporting consequences. If decreasing lease times is uncomfortable for the organization, IP ranges may need to be expanded.

4. Enables Faster Troubleshooting

IPAM contributes to faster troubleshooting by offering precise and current details about IP addresses and network setups. Network administrators can use this data to identify the devices or subnets at the root of a problem and confirm the accuracy of IP address allocations.

Simplify Your Toolset with Comprehensive Network Management Today

IPAM centralizes IP address management, integrates with DNS and DHCP, offers tracking/ reporting tools, and improves network security. Advancing these procedures leads to lower administrative costs, fewer mistakes, and improved effectiveness of network operations.

By bundling IPAM and network monitoring, organizations improve overall network performance and advance their network procedures.

If you have in-house networking talent, learn how Entuity Software™ can help increase staff productivity and efficiency today! Our enterprise network management software proactively generates alerts before service impact and can help reduce MTTR by 45%. And the built-in IPAM functionality allows you to combine the network intelligence of Entuity with the administrative management of IP address resourcing and allocation.

If your team is being spread too thin as it is, you can reduce the need for manual internal network administration with our IT infrastructure managed services! Our network management services combine automation and orchestration with the human touch of a trusted third-party maintenance provider to ensure a great experience for all users!

Get in touch with Park Place Technologies to explore how we can help your team be more effective, right away!

John Diamond Sr. Solutions Architect, Product

About the Author

John Diamond, Sr. Solutions Architect, Product