If you are tasked with maintaining a network, you are probably interested in automating as much of the routine maintenance as possible. As your network grows, this becomes particularly important. When a new computer is added to your network or when a new employee joins your organization, you need to make configuration changes. You'd probably like a painless means of getting the changes pushed out quickly and preferably without having to touch each and every computer on your network. This is where the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) comes in.
The Internet Protocol (IP) has enabled network functionality that could scarcely be imagined when IP was first developed. In order for your network client and servers to take advantage of the numerous IP network services, software, and devices, each of your clients needs an IP address.
For all but the smallest networks, manually assigning and then tracking IP addresses can be a risky proposition. On top of the hassle of tracking who has which address, you could find yourself having to reconfigure every network client you have if you need to make a change in your IP addressing structure to accommodate new users or ISP services. Because DHCP can be used to dynamically assign IP addresses to DHCP clients, all of these pitfalls become irrelevant when DHCP is in use.
This chapter describes ...