Christmastime 2001, three wise guys gathered at the Bahama Breeze in Atlanta to discuss forming a partnership to solve the IP address management via spreadsheet nightmare. John Lee, Dennis Boylan, and I all had long tenures in network management. In the mid-nineties one of my primary responsibilities was managing the International MAEs East and West as the Director of Operations at MFS DataNet. Attempting to manage multiple ASNs on multiple spreadsheets was overwhelming. I tried unsuccessfully to hire contractors to write a simple IPAM to aid in the provisioning bottleneck caused by uncorrelated IP address management as Internet traffic exploded. John and Dennis had also made several attempts at resolving the issue in their networking lives.
In February of 2002 Internet Associates was officially organized in the State of Georgia and work on a prototype began that would revolutionize and automate IP address management. We intended to be leading edge by offering IPv6 support as a primary differentiator. Our secret sauce would also include a graphical display of the addresses to allow the user to visualize the relationships between the blocks. We knew most engineers could subnet v4 easily but the complexity of IPv6 exceeded spreadsheet management capability from address size and sheer numbers. The ideas of managing the entire block including free space, policy enforcement via login, network containers with various control mechanisms, lending with limit control, and block reclaim were coded into the prototype. These were groundbreaking ideas in the field of address management, so IA applied for patents. The initial 2 patents were filed in 2003 and to date 6 U.S. patents have been awarded on the technology. In 2004 an application was also filed with the European Union where getting a patent is a lifelong endeavor.
Recognizing the IPv6 was going to be the network management challenge of the future, we turned our focus to attending IPv6 conferences and summits where the mainly Federal Government attendees were beginning to discuss transitioning to IPv6. The DOD representatives were pushing hard to move to IPv6 by 2005, and as a Navy veteran I wanted to contribute to that goal. Our newly developed product IPal (Internet Protocol Address Lifecycle) was designed as a front end for DNS/DHCP appliances focusing on planning, policy enforcement and management of every address for an ASN. The Navy wasn’t using DHCP and IPal was perfect for their networking needs according to feedback at our SPAWAR meetings. As the transition to IPv6 slid farther into the future we turned our attentions to enhancing the capabilities like automating Domain name creation and Resource Records to push to appliance partners like Infoblox. Bob Kloak, a senior Infoblox Sales Engineer, first visited our office in Duluth GA in 2004. He soon arranged for the delivery of an appliance to our office so we could connect the products together via the API.
Over the years, IPal has been utilized by many government agencies to develop a preliminary address plan for their justification for their IPv6 block allocation from ARIN. Our involvement in the various v6 conferences, forums and organizations has been consistently recognized by the community and John Lee was appointed the IPv6 SME for the North American IPv6 Task Force by the late great Jim Bound. In 2012 while working with ACT-IAC under the direction of Carol Bales a policy Analyst in OMB, John Lee and I received honorary mention as contributors in the Planning Guide/Roadmap toward IPv6 Adoption within the U.S. Government. In 2013, much to my delight, the IPal technology, patents and several personnel were acquired by Infoblox. This IPal introduction is Part 1 of a series on IPv6 transition related blogs as I expand on our interactions with v6 transition efforts with the government and milestones achieved.