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Johanna E. Van Schalkwyk

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Version 8.3 – Faster, Leaner, Fitter DHCP

Posted by Johanna E. Van Schalkwyk on 1/11/18 11:16 AM

Doing DHCP

The beauty of DHCP is the speed at which it functions. Basically, DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) does what administrators can do manually, but DHCP just does it automatically, more efficiently, and in a fraction of the time.

Size can trump speed

Yet the bigger a network gets, the more DHCP servers and scopes are needed to dynamically assign, or lease, IP addresses and related IP information to network clients. The number of servers and scopes and the way the load is distributed and processed affect the speed at which networks can keep DHCP data fresh and IP leases available for use. On large networks, how efficiently DHCP lease data is documented, processed and synchronized becomes just as important as the initial matchmaking between DHCP clients and servers.

The relationship between DHCP client and server

DHCP does the hard work of handling communication between servers on a network, and client computers trying to access that network. If the series of messages between a DHCP server and a client computer would be illustrated as a conversation, it would probably look something like this.

DHCP conversation.png

Mind you, at any given moment on a large network, hundreds, or even thousands, such conversations can be occurring simultaneously. On top of that, the client computer sends its DHCPDISCOVER broadcast packet to all available servers, and all available servers can respond with a DHCPOFFER. The client is not programmed to be picky and always accepts the first offer it receives. Once they detect that their offers were not accepted, the other DHCP servers will withdraw their offers. In short, there’s a whole lot of to-and-fro action behind the scenes that is invisible to network administrators and users, but still finds its way into DHCP servers’ lease history. 

To complicate matters – or simplify it – these DHCP client-server relationships, or leases, are mostly temporary arrangements. Both parties know it will end. The server will revoke the lease once it’s expired. The client, on the other hand, can attempt to keep the lease by renewing it, or start looking for another IP address lease if the one they had had expired.

Apart from doing matchmaking between clients and servers, DHCP also ensures that each network client has a unique IP address and appropriate subnet masks. If two clients were to try and use the same IP address, neither of them would be able to communicate on the network.

These rotating relationships make the way DHCP lease data is documented, processed and synchronized so much more critical. If this is not done fast and efficiently, the whole process of dynamically assigning IP addresses can become slowed down, leaving DHCP clients, servers and ultimately network users, frustrated and ineffective.

Making DHCP management faster, leaner and fitter

Once networks run to hundreds, or thousands of DHCP scopes and servers, one needs to re-assess the way DHCP data is processed, and develop ways to improve speed and efficiency. This is exactly what Men & Mice developers set out to achieve in Version 8.3 of the Men & Mice Suite.

DHCP optimizations in Version 8.3 include:

  • Reduced network traffic, especially between the Central server and a DHCP server controller 
  • Improved database performance when processing data from a DHCP server
  • Reduced load on a DHCP server while it is being synced

Optimizing processes in these areas has resulted in lightening the often heavy load on DHCP servers, making DHCP server management considerably faster and more efficient – and more pleasurable for the people in charge of keeping it all going, all the time.

To dig into the more technical aspects of these enhancements and get the lowdown on what this boost in DHCP performance and scalability could mean for you or your network, get in touch with one of our sales engineers to walk you through the details.

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Topics: Men & Mice Suite, IPAM, DHCP, CLOUD, Akamai, Performance