We’ve all heard it. It comes throughout the year, often in reference to capital expenditures, IT projects and especially during budget cycles—the directive to “cut costs.” And often what’s most visible—and most important—is “hitting the number.” So, why not start by cutting the “low-hanging fruit,” the seemingly obvious places of redundancy, the non-essentials and “nice-to-haves?”
This “hit the number” approach is often the one taken for managing core network services. But the real question should be, “How are key network services valued over time? How quickly can you recover your investment, what’s the ROI and the total cost of ownership (TCO)?” The choice usually comes down to: A) invest in enterprise-grade, core network tools, or B) “cut costs” by using the “free” DNS, DHCP and IP address management (IPAM) (DDI) features of Microsoft Server and adding spreadsheets, tools and processes where needed. Looking back over your career, what choices were made most often? What worked well? What didn’t?
The Cost of “Free” DDI
Initially, you know that choosing “free” will visibly cost less and may bring recognition to team play and compliance. But you also know that eventually, the hidden downstream costs of “free” DDI will emerge—manual tedious processes, un-synced, non-shared data, no single source of truth, disparate systems, non-unified UI and management, single failure points, unauthorized access, labor-intensive reporting and the list goes on.
For the business, this means that instead of deploying IT resources to add value through strategic projects, innovation, expansion, revenue generation, process improvement, automation and more, initial savings are eventually consumed by inefficiency, data inaccuracies, error resolution, security issues and rework.
For the technologist, instead of Friday date night, the weekend hike or your kid’s soccer game, time is spent fixing IP conflicts, network outages, manual provisioning errors, adding subnets, configuring switch ports, tracking down historical IP/domain audit records, building reports and more. So, the downstream value of the “A/B” decision again becomes most visible—and most important.
Manual vs. Automation: The Tolly Group Quantifies TCO
To help IT organizations consider the ROI and TCO of their core network decisions, Infoblox commissioned the Tolly Group to test “free” DDI against the Infoblox DDI automated platform. Infoblox DDI extends Microsoft value through tight IPAM and DNS/DHCP integration to avoid conflicts and network outages. It replaces spreadsheets, tools and manual processes with automated central management visibility and component-syncing without agents, performance impacts or Microsoft infrastructure modifications. It integrates Active Directory (AD) Sites and Service management and delivers IP/domain identity-mapping and Reporting for audits, usage metrics and IP planning analytics.
TCO Test Scenarios
With the two options in view, Tolly measured and verified the time and cost savings by comparing the manual Microsoft network processes against the automated Infoblox DDI solution. Tolly engineers lab-tested and benchmarked 5 common IPAM, discovery and configuration tasks noted below:
- Add a New Host: Add a static IP address, add a dynamic IP address and add a group of 7 printers.
- Add a New Subnet: Add a new network subnet and reserve designated IP addresses that would not be used by the DHCP service.
- Switch Port Configuration: Access a LAN switch and modify designated port parameters. (Infoblox uses a GUI-based workflow. The manual process requires training for the native switch command line interface (CLI)).
- Troubleshooting (Resolve Address Conflicts): Query to discover single IP addresses being used by a second network device.
- Network Resource Management (Switch Port Availability): Monitor which switch ports across the entire network are available for new users.
For these use cases, Tolly engineers calculated the time it takes to complete each task using both the manual CLI steps needed for discovery and control for the “free” Microsoft DNS/DHCP tools and the Infoblox automated platform. Time measurements were used to determine the time and cost savings for each task. Assumptions were then made to develop an estimated TCO over a 3-year timeframe. In the graphic below, a process of changing a subnet is illustrated. This commonly occurs when the existing network runs out of IP space and can’t be expanded because the next space is already committed.
In real-world applications, manual processes associated with “free” DDI usually require collaboration among one or more departments. This means that the actual time it takes to accomplish seemingly basic tasks can take much longer, if not stretching into days with the added potential for errors and rework. In contrast, automation delivers visibility, accuracy, efficiency, time savings, reliability and the ability to deploy IT resources to more strategic, higher-business value tasks. In the Tolly Report, wait and collaboration times were not included when calculating the manual method. A summary of the findings is noted below:
Tolly then calculated the TCO for select DNS/DHCP and networking tasks for 10k, 20k, 50k and 100k IP addresses under management comparing manual to Infoblox automated configuration (see the Tolly Report for more details). For example, for management of 50k IP addresses, Tolly determined the following:
While a number of questions involving this study can be answered in the full version of the Tolly Report, these findings suggest that core network management tools like the automated Infoblox platform can deliver:
- More than 70% savings in labor costs/year on common network tasks—with less effort
- Automated authoritative IPAM that eliminates manual process errors, headaches and rework
- The quick ROI of network automation vs. the hidden downstream costs of “free” legacy solutions
- The latest advancements to improve reliability, scalability, visibility, compliance, and security
If you’re facing the “cut costs” directive, you owe it to yourself and to your company to check things out. Because what’s most visible and most important does not only occur at the beginning of the decision cycle.
To learn more:
- Join the Tolly Group and Infoblox for a deeper in-depth discussion in the free webinar on 5/1, 2018, 10 PDT, 1P EDT, 6P BST. Register today.
- Receive your own digital copy of the revised Tolly Report after registering for and attending the 5/1 webinar.
About the Tolly Group
The Tolly Group companies have been delivering world-class IT services for more than 25 years. Tolly is a leading global provider of third-party validation services for vendors of IT products, components, and services. You can reach the company by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at +1 561.391.5610. Visit Tolly on the Internet at http://www.tolly.com.
Infoblox delivers Actionable Network Intelligence to enterprise, government, and service provider customers around the world. As the industry leader in DNS, DHCP, and IP address management, the category known as DDI, Infoblox (www.infoblox.com) provides control and security from the core—empowering thousands of organizations to increase efficiency and visibility, reduce risk, and improve customer experience. You can reach the company by email at Info@infoblox.com, or by telephone at +1 408.986.4000.