Using modern DDI to ease IoT deployments, management, and visibility with DHCPv6
Feb 17th, 2022
How can enterprises gain control and visibility for their IoT (Internet of Things) devices? A modern DDI solution should provide more than the scalability that comes along with IPv6, but also the management, automation, and visibility necessary to use IoT to its fullest potential.
From humidity sensors in the data center to robots in the warehouse, IoT devices are mainstream for most enterprises. In fact, Juniper Research predicts that the number of connected IoT devices was set to reach 46 billion in 2021, which is a 200% increase from 2016. These numbers include both business and home use, but the line between business and home is pretty blurry at this point. (Anyone watch that episode of Billions where the employer provides the smart health rings?)
What do these devices require in order to be useful? Connectivity. Therefore all these devices need an IP address. Now, due to sheer scarcity, it's not beyond reason to say that IPv6 adoption could be driven by IoT. Meaning we go back to that old mantra of "there just aren't enough IPv4 addresses to scale."
IPv6, however, provides security capabilities that are not available natively within IPv4 as well as even battery life advantages due to the different ways the two protocols work. IPv4 relies more heavily on broadcast traffic and therefore requires more energy. Security and battery life are large considerations when evaluating IoT devices, especially when you may be deploying hundreds or thousands of these connected devices.
It's true the IPv6 can be "self-configuring" and instead of using multiple broadcasts, it can use Neighbor Discovery Protocol to create a unique IPv6 address. This is referred to as SLAAC, or Stateless Address Auto Configuration. However, this is not the same as DHCP. SLAAC is great for getting devices connected, but it doesn't offer the same automatic application of policies which can be configured through DHCPv6.
Going back to this idea of deploying hundreds or thousands of devices, which all need certain policies and attributes applied, DHCPv6 is a more sustainable way of doing that.
Sustainability also means giving the device a DNS name, rather than always using an IP address. Consider that IoT devices may not always be long lasting, but their purpose on your network may be. For example, let's say I have a humidity sensor in my data center called humidity1.menandmice.com in my internal DNS. The company that created that sensor creates a better device which also provides me with historical data for the last week. When I go to upgrade, I want to keep humidity1.menandmice.com so I don't have to change my dashboard backend at all. I can do that with DNS and of course just change my reserved IPv6 address to the new one.
Now, if I were only using native tools to achieve this level of control and automation (or lack of automation), I'd likely have to make changes on several servers. Using a modern DDI solution, like Micetro, I can just login to a centralized UI or connect to the API and make my changes quickly there. Then let Micetro do the work of talking to all of my DHCP and DNS services.
Most companies are not fully using IPv6 yet. Most commonly companies have "migrated" to IPv6 by deploying it using dual stacking, meaning they are running both IPv4 and IPv6. Using the same centralized solution for both of these protocols will be key, but it goes beyond that to the operational models IT teams are used to. For example, creating split scopes is quite common for IPv4 DHCP scopes. Being able to configure these easily for IPv6 DHCP scopes, especially because they are less human friendly, will offer reliability, performance, and uptime to the IoT devices on your network.
I would be remiss not to mention visibility when we're talking about hundred or thousands of devices. It would be impossible for any team to be able to watch and proactively troubleshoot this kind of deployment with native tools. Using a modern DDI solution will give you the alerts you need for proactive troubleshooting, but also the history and logging to understand why changes were made, who made them and why.
If you're looking for more information on how you can use Micetro in your IPv6 deployment, or how to start using DHCPv6 to gain more control over your dynamically allocated IPv6 addresses check out our case study with Oesterreichische National Bank or our webinar about IPv6 and DHCPv6 fundamentals or feel free to reach out for a personalized demo any time.