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New tool modernizes campus Domain Name System and IP address management


In two changes over May and June 2018, ITS Communication Technologies deployed a new tool — Infoblox — to replace the in-house applications that run the University’s Domain Name System and IP address management.

WHO BENEFITS

Students


Faculty


Staff


Researchers


The deployment of the new Infoblox product marked a major re-architecture of campus Domain Name System (DNS) and Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) services and the most significant upgrade in these services in 25 years. The launch of Infoblox culminated work that started with an evaluation and selection process in early 2017. The work enhanced and modernized capabilities, including providing better centralized management to campus IT administrators. New features benefit all campus users and open new possibilities for innovation.

Service is critical to campus

DNS is a critical service that has a huge impact on the campus community’s day-to-day life. As with some other services on campus, when the existing DNS service works well, the campus community doesn’t know it exists or at least campus members don’t think about it.

Hiawatha Demby

For example, when you type a URL like “www.unc.edu” in a browser, DNS tells the application which server to go to. A URL is easy to remember for humans, but the real address is a complex string of numbers called an IP address that computers and network equipment use to direct network traffic to the correct destination.

Advanced services were desired

ITS had used in-house applications to run its DNS and IP address-management system.

“Although these services were still working well, they were limited in what they could provide in the way of advanced services such as delegated administration, Dynamic DNS, single pane of glass data management and performance monitoring,” said Hiawatha Demby, Network DDI Engineer with Network Operations, a group within Communication Technologies.

Demby and Will Whitaker, DDI Architect with Network Operations, are the service owners.

Management got easier

The previous tool was primarily manual and had few checks and balances. Also, the campus-wide DNS was fragmented, with departmental groups using different tools or manual approaches.

Will Whitaker

By purchasing a vendor-provided solution for DNS, DHCP and IP address management, ITS modernized the University’s system. Because Infoblox has an application programming interface (API), ITS can build new capability, such as for business processes, security and virtualization. With the new system, ITS also can create configuration efficiencies and reduce human error. In addition, this service provides other campus groups with an easier way to manage DNS. DNS is serving an increasing role in providing protection from online threats from malicious sites and sources of malware.

“We definitely wanted to improve on what we had and what we could offer others,” Whitaker said.


Key Partner(s): All University schools & departments
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