What is DDI?

Good DDI should be more than the sum of its parts.

Mar 4th, 2021

DNS, DHCP, IPAM. The “holy trinity” of network management, known together as DDI. In my previous posts, I gave a light-hearted and hopefully entertaining overview of each, and that should be that, right? Not quite.

“In the case of all things which have several parts and in which the totality is not, as it were, a mere heap, but the whole is something besides the parts, there is a cause; for even in bodies contact is the cause of unity in some cases, and in others viscosity or some other such quality.” (Aristotle: Metaphysics; Book VIII, 1045a.8–10)

Aristotle got it right. (I never could resist any opportunity to reference Aristotle. Besides, you didn’t think you’d get away without more cultural references, did you?) He didn’t cover network management in Metaphysics, but just as Poetics provides the blueprint for storytelling to this day, this particular thought is a valuable lesson for our industry.

Let’s see what an almost two-and-a-half thousand-year-old philosopher can teach us about DDI in the 21st century.

DDI: more than the sum of its parts?

DNS, DHCP, and IPAM are individual concepts that can and do work independently. It depends on your environment and operational needs which one takes priority or gets phased out completely.

Yet, there’s something besides these core services that makes them more valuable as a whole. That’s the added value of a DDI solution, or should be in any case. Merely providing a unified way to manage DNS, DHCP, and IPAM is useful, but not where “real” DDI shines.

Synergy: the DDI secret sauce

There’s something seductive about this functionality in Micetro:

Micetro's intuitive DDI interface that connects DNS and IPAM better
DNS and IPAM working seamlessly together in Micetro

There are many other examples, but for me, this exemplifies what good DDI can do. (“It’s the seamlessly integrated cross-discipline functionality for me,” as the kids these days would say. I’m so down with slang Z.)

DDI can, and frankly always should, enrich each of its parts with data from the others. Whether it’s pulling in IPAM information to the DNS context or something else, the synergy that can exist between the different parts of DDI is what makes it work better.

A company may not need all three functionalities, but those are few and far between. Even those that don’t utilize DNS, DHCP, and IPAM to equal measure can benefit from the added value of DDI.

Get yourself a DDI that can do both

Aristotle would be proud of how his theory has been put to practice. Those businesses that prioritize this practice and pay attention to not just the separate functionalities of, but the overall value in a DDI solution gain a competitive advantage in today’s hyper-connected and integrated world.

This value of DDI follows in the footsteps of adopting DevOps and NetOps best practices, moving portable workloads to the cloud, shifting the balance of latency-critical data and services to the edge, and so on. When, once again, “the network is the computer,” every little advantage helps, and every small benefit compounds into huge dividends.

Good DDI is an important step in reaping those benefits fully.