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Ben Ball
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Ben Ball on
June 19, 2023

How the internet and NS1 evolved together

The internet looks very different than it did even just 10 years ago – and NS1’s groundbreaking technology and close partnerships have contributed many improvements along the way. We take a look back at how DNS has evolved, and where it’s heading.

As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of NS1, we decided to take a look back at how major milestones in the company’s history line up with the history of the Domain Name System (DNS) and the internet writ large. While the internet and DNS predate NS1 by several decades, NS1 was instrumental in shaping the use of these technologies over time.

The early days of DNS

DNS was created in 1985 as a way to translate human-accessible addresses ( into machine readable IP addresses (45.495.4.86). From the beginning this “phone book of the internet” has promoted usability and accessibility, helping to popularize usage of the internet even in all its arcane technical forms.

In the early days of DNS, users and enterprises didn’t ask it to do much. For the first decade and a half of its existence, DNS was simply “answering the mail” - returning the proper answers, 24/7/365. For many enterprises, this is still all they need DNS to do.

5 ways the internet evolved – and how DNS evolved with it

Yet in the early 2000s the internet began to change, and DNS was forced to change along with it.

1: The world wide web goes truly worldwide

The scale of internet usage started to increase dramatically. In 2000, only 414 million people worldwide were using the internet. By 2005, it was over a billion. By 2010 it was two billion. That’s a massive upswing in traffic in a relatively short amount of time.

2: DNS queries grow as people spend more and more time online

The number of DNS queries per person also increased. As websites and applications became more complex and feature-rich, the number of required DNS queries quickly ballooned. Add to that the greater number of websites and applications used by each person, and the total number of queries started to grow even faster.

3: DNS protocol grows more complex to support a growing global network

The internal operations of the internet started to become more complex. As new DNS use cases emerged, the protocol’s architects created new functionality and new standards to meet the changing needs of a global network.

4: Enter mobile and the cloud

The character of DNS delivery started to change from a focus on company-owned servers and desktops to the cloud and mobile devices. Where IP addresses were once fixed for years, now they may have a shelf life of only a few minutes. The solid outlines of the internet have come to resemble more of an amoeba, constantly changing shape to meet the needs of the moment.

5: User expectations change

User expectations of internet performance have changed dramatically. In the days of dial-up internet, a page might take several minutes to appear - and that was considered acceptable. Today, most users will click away after just a few seconds of load time. DNS has to deliver information in a faster, more agile way than ever before.

Meeting the challenge of an application-driven world

NS1 was born when the scale, complexity, and performance requirements of DNS were just starting to emerge as real challenges for enterprises around the world. Seeing that existing DNS offerings weren’t rising to the challenge, NS1’s founders decided to fill the gap by building a new, modern DNS management system. That system evolved into NS1’s flagship offering: Managed DNS.

In the ensuing decade, NS1’s technology evolved to meet the changing DNS needs of its customers, and also influenced the development of the DNS protocol itself. NS1 engineers and developers regularly work with standards bodies like IETF to develop and deploy new record types. NS1 has been instrumental in bringing security innovations like multi-signer DNSSEC from concept to execution. These are just a few examples of how NS1’s groundbreaking technology and close partnerships improve the inner workings of the internet.

Now that NS1 is part of IBM, we’re taking the next step in our evolution and charting new paths for innovation. The scale, complexity, and performance challenges that enterprises face will only continue to grow. While we’ve focused so far on how to solve the authoritative DNS-related part of the puzzle, our new connection to IBM provides a platform to expand our approach into new areas.

Looking ahead to the future

The recent announcement of IBM’s new Hybrid Cloud Mesh offering opens up a whole new world to NS1 and its customers. NS1 has always focused on optimizing application connectivity - with Hybrid Cloud Mesh, that focus on application connectivity can extend behind the firewall as well. The result: an end-to-end approach to application connectivity which optimizes pathways through the entire technology stack.