Jan 05

Importance of The DHCP


Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is a network protocol used in IP networks in which an assigned DHCP server assigns IP addresses to the hosts in the network so that communication can be achieved between other end points. DHCP server is also responsible for assigning of the subnet mask, default gateway and domain name server (DNS) address and other relevant configuration parameters as well. DHCP is defined by Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) as Request For Comments (RFC) 2131 and 2132 standard based on the BOOTP protocol.

The main reason why DHCP is needed is because it simplifies the IP address management on networks. It is obvious that no two hosts can have identical IP addresses and doing that manually can lead to errors even on small networks where some devices might need IP addresses on a permanent-basis. Additionally, not every user is proficient to assign IP addresses hence automating this task using a DHCP server makes easier for network administrators.

Elements of DHCP

It is important to be familiar with all the components of DHCP, hence the following list gives an introduction to those components

  • DHCP server – A network device, could be a router or a server that is running the DHCP service which holds the IP addresses and related configurations.
  • DHCP client – It is the end device that receives the IP configurations from the DHCP server. This end device could be either a computer, mobile device, printer or anything else that needs IP configuration for communication.
  • IP address pool – The range of available IP addresses that are available for DHCP clients.
  • Subnet – IP networks can be segmented into smaller networks using subnetting and these smaller networks are known as subnets.
  • DHCP relay – DHCP relay acts as an intermediate device, which could be a router or a host. It listens to the broadcast messages from end devices and relays them to the configured server. Then the DHCP server sends the responses back to the DHCP relay and relay passes them along to the respective client.

Advantages of DHCP servers

  • Provides accurate IP configuration.
  • Reduce the IP address conflicts.
  • Automation of IP address administration.
  • Efficient management of changes.
  • It supports multiple scopes such as multicast scopes and super scopes.

Disadvantages of DHCP servers

  • A failed DHCP server could lead to a single point of failure to the whole network if there is only one DHCP server.
  • Less secure as there is no need of authentication for a client to join the network.

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