Lately I've been looking for robust IP address management (IPAM) software to replace the unwieldy subnet spreadsheets I try to corral every day at work. You'd think this would be a fairly straight-forward task, but you'd be wrong. See, I work for a managed services provider (MSP), which acts in many respects as a sort of mini-ISP. We don't install or maintain physical circuits but we do act as a middleman for carriers who do, and we manage a large amount of address space both private and public, customer and internal. As an added bonus, we also have to carefully track how address space is imported and exported among hundreds of independent customer VRFs, which can potentially employ overlapping address space.
The problem I've encountered repeatedly whilst searching for an IPAM solution is that most of the products out there are intended to cater toward enterprise and datacenter customers. The key differentiating factor between these and an MSP or ISP is that enterprise and datacenter networks tend to focus on individual IP address allocations and DHCP leases, whereas service provider networks have a wider perspective, focused on IP prefixes and VRFs. As it turns out, there are surprisingly few IPAM solutions which favor the latter.
Here's what I've come across so far...
Infoblox. Their claim to fame is three-in-one IPAM, DHCP, and DNS. Unfortunately, I only need one-in-one, and their IPAM software doesn't have VRF support.
BT Diamond IPControl. Looks promising, but I can't get their sales department to respond to my inqueries. And if sales won't answer, you can sure as hell bet support won't.
BlueCat Networks Proteus. A demo confirmed my suspicion that this is very much an enterprise-grade product. Not a bad one, just not up to the task at hand.
SolarWinds Orion IPAM. A familiar interface and integration with a product we already use. But no VRF support.
IPplan. Haven't looked to closely at this one. The beta-stage IPv6 support isn't too tempting. Also, its interface reminds me of when I was first learning about web design in the late nineties.
The NOC Project. An intriguing open source application built on Django (a Python framework with which I'm very familiar). It seems to have enhanced SP-grade IPAM capabilities and a number of other very useful features (such as circuit tracking). Unfortunately, like so many open source products it's a bit rough around the edges. And it doesn't help that half of the documentation is in Russian.
An in-house solution. Could I create a custom IPAM solution with everything we need? Sure! The problem is that I'm a network engineer, not a programmer (a natural division of labor which, it seems, is mostly to blame for the lack of robust IPAM solutions available). Even if I had the time to undertake such a project, I have little interest in providing long-term maintenance of it.
I'm sure there a number of potential solutions I've missed, and I'm hoping my fellow network engineers reading this article can point them out.