DHCP server

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A DHCP server is an almost indispensable element of all networks. Its role is to dynamically assign IP addresses and other parameters to devices in a network, using the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). Thanks to a DHCP server, network operators don’t have to perform this mundane task manually, which frees up their time and reduces the number of configuration errors.

DHCP server
How does it work?
DHCP request
The role of a DHCP server is quite simple, yet very important. Any device that wants to access a network needs an IP address first. So when the device tries to connect, it sends out a request for it. It is the server’s job to provide the device with its new IP address and any other network parameters (called “options”) that have been preconfigured.
DHCP lease
A DHCP server is not only responsible for IP assignment, but also for IP lease renewal. Every network has a limited pool of addresses to choose from – this is especially true of IPv4 addresses. To manage that pool optimally, IP addresses aren’t assigned to devices forever (statically), but dynamically, i.e., leased for a specific period of time. The server is in charge of giving out these leases.
IP pool management
Importantly, the DHCP server in and of its own only hands out IP addresses, but doesn’t manage the IP pool. For you to be able to configure the options and for the server to assign, de-assign, and match the IPs, it needs to either be integrated with a separate IP address management (IPAM) tool or have it built-in.
A good DHCP server is:

integrated with an IPAM

configurable in runtime

intuitive and navigable

highly available

flexible regardless of network complexity

integrable with third-party systems

Released man-hours

Smaller number of errors

Effective IP pool use

Automated network configuration

Why do you need a DHCP server?

Simply put, the alternative to having a DHCP server is to manually assign and keep track of IP addresses. With large networks that quickly becomes unmanageable. Nor does it make much sense.

The server frees up network operators’ time so that they can focus on the real challenges of their work. As it reduces the need for manual intervention, it also decreases the number of human errors that would naturally occur. On top of this, because the IPs are assigned dynamically, the IP pool is used more effectively, which is especially important in depleted IPv4 networks.

Easier network management

High availability

More functionalities

Released overhead

Why not just use a router?

Yes, you can let routers or other network equipment handle the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol if your network is small enough. However, there are a few considerations you need to account for.

Most importantly, it is easier to manage one DHCP server than a set of separate servers located on routers. This gives you better visibility into your network and greater flexibility.

Additionally, a DHCP server is a safer option if its architecture ensures high availability. Then, if one node goes down, the other can quickly take over, having little to no impact on the clients.

Finally, there’s the matter of overhead. After all, handling DHCP requests is yet another task for the router to perform that puts an unnecessary strain on its performance and may negatively affect the network.

Dive deeper

Are you ready to upgrade your network with a new DHCP server? See what AVSystem has to offer.

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