Which of these is easier to remember: 192.0.2.1 or bargainwidgets.com? The first option is a series of numbers that lacks inherent meaning, but if you need a widget on the cheap, the second option makes perfect sense. That makes it easier to remember, and that is why DNS was invented.
Often referred to as the internet’s phone book, DNS has taken on a more business-critical role in today’s increasingly data-heavy and mobile world. Cloud-based services and affordable Internet infrastructure have brought about a greater reliance on distributed applications. The magic in modern DNS and traffic management platforms lies in routing users to the best choice among servers in the appropriate geographical region – and doing so in real time.
This is a convenience that consumers have grown accustomed to. They expect their apps to load quickly and be available anytime and anywhere. This expectation of uptime and performance will only increase over time and has a direct impact on business’ top-line revenue. However, a study found that from March 2015 to 2016, about 3.9 million businesses in the United Kingdom – around 72% of the total – experienced some loss of connectivity during office hours, at a combined cost of £12.3bn.
Uptime, then, is a significant business issue. How can DNS help here? While it’s true that times — and the internet’s geography — have changed, the technology powering modern DNS has evolved to keep pace. Because of this, DNS is now more important than ever for the developers, engineers and operations teams who build modern applications and websites.
DNS: Small But Mighty
In fact, today’s connected world has become heavily dependent upon this little 'phone book.'
DNS is a critical component of internet infrastructure because applications and websites become unavailable—essentially 'invisible' — if the DNS service responsible for an application’s domains fails. This results in downtime and loss of revenue. But beyond this obvious downside scenario, DNS presents a powerful opportunity: it is the ingress point to most applications and websites. That means DNS lookup has the potential to be the first and most impactful chance to make a decision about which application endpoint should service a user.
There has been an evolution over the last half-decade in automation tools, application frameworks, IaaS offerings, database technologies and increased bandwidth that enable distributed applications. However, DNS and traffic management technology has not evolved at the pace of applications themselves, and DNS based routing decisions are often limited to 'geographic routing,' which attempts to route users based on metrics (like distance) that may not in fact take a user on an ideal path through a complex Internet subject to congestion, peering constraints, fiber cuts, malicious traffic, and other factors. Until recently, we were in a state of 'dumb DNS.'
Many app developers today are using 'smart DNS' solutions that go far beyond the rote capabilities of traditional DNS and can dramatically improve application performance and end user experience. On the network side, intelligent DNS can help solve a number of common application delivery problems by directing users to application endpoints that minimize packet loss, jitter, latency, and other factors. On the infrastructure side, intelligent DNS helps route traffic around outages, optimize endpoint selection based on real-time telemetry, and even cloudburst to meet spikes in demand. These capabilities are driven by the ability to ingest infrastructure and network data, often specific to an application, and automatically make decisions based on that data in real time.
A Fresh Take on Application Delivery
Next-generation DNS solutions offer the intelligence and capabilities that traditional in-house and legacy solutions simply cannot, delivering speed, greater operational control, and rock-solid reliability. These features can be leveraged via SaaS-model managed DNS networks, or even in fully managed on-premises deployments for internal use cases like service discovery or corporate DNS.Increasingly, managed DNS and on-premises DNS are tightly coupled for single-pane-of-glass manageability, visibility and automation of DNS and traffic management across a company’s infrastructure.
Must-have features of an intelligent DNS solution include:
●Distributing traffic: To ensure efficient use of infrastructure and that no single node gets overloaded, traffic should be spread across your application endpoints. Ask potential DNS providers what types of load balancing they are capable of – from simple round robin load balancing to advanced configurations including weighting, session affinity, and load shedding.
● Resilience and availability: To keep critical systems up and respond to increasingly complex threats, intelligent DNS providers use their technical understanding and 'right now' visibility. The expertise, resources and experience behind a managed DNS provider ensure a resilient and available system. Identify providers that use multiple upstream carriers to prevent failure due to network outages, can effectively manage threats and offer a global, anycasted network for optimal resilience.
● Routing filters: Geofencing and performance-based routing are just two of the traffic routing features next-generation DNS services provide that can help you scale or segment your users or direct them based on fine-grained, real-time telemetry to the optimal application endpoint. Ask providers what types of routing filters and algorithms they have available to help meet your traffic management needs.
● Monitoring: To prevent downtime and route traffic based on data from multiple sources, intelligent DNS providers use real-time data feeds and can integrate with third-party monitoring services or leverage built-in monitoring capabilities.
Digital transformation is moving at lightning speed across all industries, making almost every organization a digital one. Customer expectation demands lightning speed when it comes to online interactions, meaning that DNS is a critical component of any digital transformation or application performance project. Using modern DNS technology within your application stack grants you significant levels of control. The end result is significant positive impact on both your internal processes and the end user experience.