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Brooke Goldberg
Posted by
Brooke Goldberg on
November 10, 2021

Improving DNS Management and Performance With NS1

NS1 customers share with IT Central Station how they’ve streamlined DNS management and improved end-user experiences with NS1 solutions

As a largely invisible but critical element of internet connectivity, the DNS server is one of those systems that generally draws attention to itself when it fails. For this reason, IT departments look for DNS solutions that are reliable, high-performing, and economical to use. This was the case for James M., VP of technical operations and DevOps at a consultancy with more than 5,000 employees. Faced with a challenging DNS workload, he opted for the NS1 DNS-as-a-service platform. With NS1, his department is now able to automate most DNS maintenance tasks, improve reliability and security, and ensure an optimal end-user experience.

James has used NS1 Managed DNS across multiple companies since 2014. As he shared in his review of NS1 on IT Central Station, the platform provides his team with a modern networking foundation that enables users to build diverse, globally distributed application footprints. James chose NS1 over its competitors because of features and benefits that include speed, agility, control, and reliable automation.

NS1 provides James’s department with a resilient, secure Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform for DNS that, as he put it, “provides the scalability we need to help meet SLAs [service level agreements] and customers’ demands without adding complexity.”

The platform is agile, offering active traffic steering and efficiently delivering applications with reliability and speed. James commented, “Although it doesn't happen as often anymore, there can be significant changes in the demand for our service. This has the potential to overwhelm services, just like we see in denial of service attacks. However, the available capacity in NS1 has meant that we've never had a challenge with that.”

The NS1 Platform Empowers DevOps and Infrastructure Teams

Both DevOps and infrastructure teams use NS1 at James’s company. He explained that DevOps “mainly manages the automation of the cloud infrastructure and tools, whereas the infrastructure team manages our legacy on-premises data center. In terms of application uptime and customer experience, we have seen a return on our investment.” This is because NS1 allows everyone to utilize automation through its application programming interface (API), which saves time and money by avoiding human error.

The Importance of Security

Security is key, as far as James is concerned. Specifically, his department is not worried about distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that “other large vendors go through.” He integrated “a significant and forward-thinking feature set that allows us to use things like DNSSEC fairly easily.” This refers to the domain name system security extension, which authenticates responses to domain name lookups. He has experienced proven, favorable results, noting, “Our DNS response times have improved significantly. We have been unaffected by major DDoS attacks because of the architecture.”

Reducing DNS Maintenance

An additional benefit from NS1 comes from its ability to reduce - or in some cases even eliminate - DNS maintenance processes. James remarked, “I can't estimate how much time this has saved us, but being able to use an API versus manual maintenance means that we don't really have to do ANY maintenance. We've been given a solution that allows us to automate everything that we need to do” and “assign staff to other tasks.” Since he does not use a manual process with the DNS, he said, “We try to automate everything we do in the DevOps team, so this has been effective for us.”

NS1 centralizes DNS management, which is advantageous to James’s team. Having a “single pane of glass” dashboard enables his users to monitor internal and external DNS solutions. He added, “We also have the ability to use advanced routing techniques with the rules engine or the additional tooling that NS1 provides.”

Reliability, Speed, and Performance

James and his team agree that the most valuable features are the DNSSEC and the general reliability and speed of the service. He shared, “The ‘Application Telemetry’ feature is awesome. This includes latency detection and it allows us to detect where a customer may run into latency on the internet, giving us the opportunity to route around it. It contributes to providing the best user experience for our clients.”

NS1’s performance assures that James’s API is robust and meets expectations. “We orchestrate that API, using Terraform,” he said, adding, “which means that there are no manual steps involved in bringing up a piece of infrastructure that needs a DNS record or maintaining hygiene in our DNS records, because services are taken down. All of it is orchestrated with the use of the API, with Terraform on top to achieve it. Overall, it's a very robust API and it meets our needs.”

Pulsar Active Traffic Steering

His company’s technical operations and DevOps teams have found added value with Pulsar Active Traffic Steering for cloud, live streaming edge delivery, and multi-content delivery networks (CDNs). The advanced traffic steering is based on custom metrics and real-time, real-user monitoring (RUM). The platform gives James’s team a unique, customizable routing logic, which can optimize his IT performance and cost at scale.

Pulsar has emerged as a “go-to” for James’s staff because it improves efficiency and meets departmental goals. He elaborated, saying, “Using the Pulsar feature has certainly improved our user experience. Pulsar shields users from availability issues. Using Pulsar with telemetry monitoring between the customer and the endpoint, we are able to detect traffic and route it appropriately, which ensures the uptime of our applications and web properties. It also ensures that the lowest latency experience is possible.”

James offered a further insight, which was, “My advice for anyone who thinks that they don't need a solution like this because they have a free or basic DNS with their cloud provider, is that they need to evaluate how DNS solutions may affect the customer experience. They should consider the global footprint of NS1, the network architecture, and where they implement Anycast.”

Learn more
about what IT Central Station members think about their DNS platforms here.