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Network Complexity: Three Trends That are Contributing to a “Perfect Storm”

Most everyone who visits CircleID is familiar with Moore’s Law, which stated simply holds that computing power doubles every 18 months. This has been going on since the 1960s and shows no sign of slowing. Moore’s Law drives faster and faster computing, which produces more and more data and network complexity. This inexorable trend is putting immense pressure on corporate networks, and the strain is too much for many of them to handle on their own.

Gartner Research has coined a new term to understand this problem—DDI, which stands for DNS, DHCP and IPAM. In today’s networked world, these three addressing components must be highly flexible and robust to avoid downtime and lost productivity. Ironically, tools designed to increase productivity—like VoIP telephony, smart phones, virtualization and video teleconferencing—can threaten to overwhelm networks with a blizzard of data and IP addresses.

Here are three broad industry trends that are contributing to a “perfect storm” of network complexity:

IP address proliferation – New technologies continue to drive an increase in network IP endpoints. The rough rule of thumb used to be one IP address per employee. No longer. Moving to VoIP telephony doubles the number of IP addresses per employee—triple it when you throw in a Blackberry. Some estimate IP addresses used by a highly “connected” user to be 6-7! Plus, these numbers must be managed dynamically, repeatedly being set up and torn down as needed.

The move to IPv6 (finally!) – It looks like IPv4 address depletion has finally made it onto the radar screen of corporate America. Simply going from 32 bit to 128 bit addresses will add to network complexity—the days of IT guys entering an IP address manually will be gone forever. And, there will complexity due to the fact that end-to-end connectivity will need to be supported for a long period of time between IPv4 and IPv6 users.

Zero tolerance for downtime – With work increasingly integrating with virtualized applications, cloud-based software and the Internet in general, network downtime equates to the inability to work. Assigning a dollar figure to network downtime is tricky, but recently Processor.com published estimates from William Malik of Gartner putting the cost of an hour of downtime at $50,000 for a $100 million company.

Increasingly companies are recognizing this challenge cannot be met with free software. Today DDI is a $200 million market on the rise, and commercial DDI solutions are more affordable than ever. According to Gartner any company with over 10,000 addresses under management should take a hard look at help from a vendor specializing in DDI.

A corporate network is designed to unite employees and serve the business goals of the company. But for too many companies, running the network has become a job onto itself, sucking time and resources away from their core competency.

In the late 19th century, factories were built by rivers because each company had to produce its own electricity. But within a few years these companies were able to outsource this major chore to utilities, thereby reducing fixed costs and freeing up capital to be better used in capturing market share.

Network complexity and the explosion of IP addresses will eventually drive most companies to outsource their DDI headaches in the same way.

By Rick Rumbarger, Co-Founder

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Good Overview...looking forward to the next article. Rick Rumbarger  –  Sep 23, 2010 6:54 PM

Good overview article.  I look forward to your follow on articles on industry solutions.

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