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Posted by
Nick Sorenson on
June 29, 2016

Leveraging Dedicated DNS and Managed DNS for Ultimate Redundancy

In the good ol’ days of running your service from a single data center, you could safely put your Domain Name Service (DNS) servers inside your data center. Why? Because if the whole data center went down, it wouldn’t matter that your DNS was down, too.

But in today’s world of multiple data centers, cloud regions, and highly-distributed networks, your DNS needs to be just as highly distributed as your content. After all, what good is a Disaster Recovery (DR) site if you have no way to direct your users to it?

And while top-tier DNS providers all operate highly resilient networks with multiple anycast groups and hundreds of servers spread out around the world, the hard reality is that impairments, outages, and massive Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks can and do happen. To truly bulletproof your distributed infrastructure against an issue where your users cannot resolve your domain, you might very well consider hosting your DNS records with two providers.

But the devil, as they say, is in the details.

Prior to NS1’s Dedicated DNS offering, you basically had three choices:

  • Run one DNS provider as primary, and the second as the replicated slave
  • Run two DNS providers both as primary, and (carefully!) make your record changes in each
  • Run two DNS providers both as primary, and code your own middleware application that is capable of understanding a requested DNS change, and pushing that change to each provider’s unique API

With the first, you lose all the powerful geographic routing, RUM-based telemetry, and traffic management features that some top-tier providers offer. The use of the zone transfer (XFR) technology condemns you to using only the most basic, plain-vanilla DNS records.

With the second case, the drawback is obvious: human error. If you don’t painstakingly and laboriously keep two different providers in perfect sync, you will end up with traffic routing problems that are shockingly difficult to troubleshoot.

And with the third case, you will have to invest significant time and resources in writing your own DNS management software suite, with in-depth integration with each of your DNS providers. You lose all the advantages of your providers’ portals and dashboards, and will have to roll your own interpretation layer to keep one provider’s advanced features in approximate synchronization with the next provider’s.

Thankfully there is a better way! In a nutshell, NS1 Dedicated DNS allows you to place real or virtual servers anywhere you want them: in your office, in your data centers, inside your DMZs, behind your firewalls—literally anywhere that makes sense for your infrastructure.  We then install our world-class DNS software stack on them, and turn them into fully managed DNS delivery nodes that are dedicated to you. Through the same portal and API as you use right now to manage your DNS on our Managed DNS anycasted world-wide platform, you can choose which domains you want to also serve from your Dedicated DNS nodes.

This means you can enjoy all the resiliency of two DNS providers with the ease of management through a single portal and API.  All your advanced traffic management and intelligent Filter Chain configurations work exactly the same, too.  And if something were to happen to any part of the Managed DNS infrastructure, your Dedicated DNS nodes would be unaffected and would continue to happily serve DNS. Once they reestablished contact with the NS1 “mothership” they would push their queued query statistics upstream, and apply any pending record changes.

Since Dedicated DNS nodes also support recursion, in addition to being authoritative DNS servers, you can point all your DNS clients (laptops, servers, EC2 instances, etc.) at them. This results in all your DNS needs being met, and queries directed at your own domains and records being resolved in single-digit millisecond time. You can also leverage NS1’s advanced Filter Chain capabilities to intelligently direct traffic within your own data centers, and achieve greater performance, failover, and resiliency between server or application tiers.

By combining the power of NS1’s Managed DNS with Dedicated DNS, you can truly enjoy the best of two DNS providers without any of the pitfalls of running two disparate DNS providers.

If you want more information about implementing a dual-provider, dual-network solution, check out our webinar:

Webinar: Redundant DNS
When: May 11th, 2016 at 2PM Eastern Time

Topics to be covered:

  • Key issues and best practices to follow when implementing a dual source DNS solution
  • How to meet the challenges of setting up and maintaining a dual provider solution
  • What you gain, what you might lose
  • How to achieve "record compatibility and synchronization" with NS1 and another provider.
  • How to gain the advantages of a full featured advanced DNS in a dual redundant set up, by combining NS1’s Managed DNS and Dedicated DNS

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