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A Publication Featuring The Information Services Technology of Maine State Government
|Volume VI, Issue 3||March 2003|
by John Scott
Well it appears the time has come once again for us to share a moment or two discussing DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol), and the States progress towards the day when every device on the Wide Area Network (WAN) has been converted. As I am sure you know by now, this process of converting the entire state to both DHCP and routing is ongoing, and currently we are approximately 55% through that endeavor (excluding Public Safety which has their own network).
Recently, I met with a representative from a quasi-state agency. They use the States WAN, and Telco services, but are not technically any branch of state government. They are moving forward however to do their part in this conversion project by bringing their single location up to speed with Routing and converting their devices to DHCP. They wanted to discuss the effects of routing on the speed of their network connections. I was able to tell them with confidence that they would experience an improvement in network speed once their office was routed.
After that meeting, I wanted to confirm the figures for myself, so I had a discussion with Duncan Bond. Duncan reports that before we created the routed .10 network, a PC on the 141.114 (bridged) network, had to deal with about 65 broadcast and multicast requests per second. By way of comparison, the average device on the routed .10 network answers only about 7 to 8 such requests per second. While it is true that the migration of so many devices to the routed network has reduced the load on the bridged 141.114 network (average broadcasts/multicasts per second are now down to about 45) that is still far above the industry standard "best practice" of moving to a routed network when your broadcasts/multicasts exceed 15 per second.
There are other reasons to convert as well. In addition to the performance boost that will be realized, there is also the advantage of no longer being the victim of a broadcast storm, or other widespread network event that can bring down the bridged network. Once your locations are routed, you are segregated from any such events, and your employees can continue to work uninterrupted. The sooner an agency is converted to DHCP and the routed network, the sooner all of these benefits can be realized.
|You only need to know someone's name to look them up and get their phone number. DNS does this for you by keeping a database of every device on the network, and matching its name to the IP address it has been assigned.|
There are also the benefits that will be experienced through the utilization of DNS. The Domain Naming System is employed as part of DHCP. Every device that receives a lease from DHCP is now also automatically registered with DNS. What does this mean to you? Put simply, it means that any device connected to the States WAN can be located and accessed via its name, rather than having to know or care what its IP address might be. If a support specialist in Portland needs to remotely access a server in Caribou, he or she needs only know the servers name, and DNS will do the rest. Think of DNS as a giant phonebook. You only need to know someones name to look them up and get their phone number. DNS does this for you by keeping a database of every device on the network, and matching its name to the IP address it has been assigned. In this way the actual IP address of a device might change frequently, but as its name never (or rarely) does, you can always get to it no matter what its IP address might be.
At this point in the process, several of the larger departments in the State have completed or almost completed their respective conversions to DHCP and routing. These include most notably the Departments of Transportation (DOT), Behavioral and Developmental Services, Agriculture, Conservation, and Marine Resources, to name a few. I applaud the IT staff at each of these departments for being willing to push forward and take the plunge. Now that they are through the process, I think they would all agree that they are happy with the results.
I have spoken to a few friends in some of these departments, and they have agreed to be available to answer questions if any agency is beginning to plan their own conversion process.
I urge anyone who is considering moving forward with the conversion of their agency to contact either myself, or one of the people listed above. Im sure we can answer any questions you might have.
John T. Scott is the Enterprise DNS/DHCP Administrator at the Bureau of Information Services (BIS). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.