NS1 is officially 10. This has been the best decade of my life. It’s been challenging, rewarding and everything in-between.
We have a whole lot more ahead of us, especially with our acquisition by IBM, but I wanted to highlight some of the top moments in our history that propelled us to where we are today.
The history of NS1: 10th anniversary video
NS1 co-founders and leaders share some of the top moments in our history - and look forward to what's ahead with our bright future with IBM
#1: The first contract
My co-founders and I were exuberant – we signed our first account and went from $0 to $4500/month in revenue. However after signing, the customer actually told us, “This is too inexpensive. You're going to need to raise the price of it. Otherwise, there's going to be some questions as to what I've been paying for all these years."
It was at that point a lightbulb went off and we knew we built something that provided serious value.
#2: The first demos
I loved showing how simple and elegant it was to build advanced traffic management policies using DNS.
Seeing someone’s eyes light up when showing them Filter Chains for the first time was incredible. I immediately thought, "Oh, we've just hit on something that is going to be meaningful for this company.” They've just realized that they can do something in a few clicks that would previously have taken months and needed an entire team to make happen.
#3: DDoS attack
In October 2016, the entire DNS industry was victim to several DDoS attacks, some of the largest in history. NS1 and our competitors were constantly being targeted and it was definitely an “all hands on deck” situation.
With our teams’ determination we managed to defend against the attacks. And despite this being a scary time, and some of our competitors suffering major outages, there was ultimately a positive outcome: More than ever before, the industry started seeing DNS as critical infrastructure and this led to redundant DNS being more commonplace.
#4: The dedicated network
After the 2016 DDoS attacks our Dedicated DNS product offering started seeing some serious adoption.
Dedicated DNS offered our customers a totally separate DNS network that could seamlessly integrate with NS1’s global DNS network. This combination provides a fully redundant solution without sacrificing any of our advanced traffic steering features.
#5: An Amazon latency report
Amazon and other internet infrastructure companies started publishing research showing how the time someone spends waiting for a page to load translates to lost revenue.
These reports helped us highlight just how important website/application performance is and how NS1 can help our customers create a better experience for their users.
#6: The Silicon Valley flywheel effect
One night, my co-founder Jonathan Sullivan was watching the hit show “Silicon Valley” and noticed that in the now-iconic intro, we were hosting about a third of the logos shown off.
It was surreal to realize that the most innovative brands out there are choosing us as their DNS provider. Our innovative technology was speaking for itself, creating a sort of flywheel effect.
#7: Active traffic steering with Pulsar
We always understood that no matter how well we built our global DNS network, latency was always going to exist… After all, you can’t beat the speed of light. But latency is only half the battle. Traffic routing and decision making is the other half.
For example: I am a user in New York City and am trying to connect to my favorite video streaming website. The streaming website has servers in Virginia and California. It’s clear that in this instance I should probably be routed to the Virginia location because it’s much closer to me and will result in a shorter roundtrip (i.e. lower latency). This is called geo-based routing.
But what if geo-data doesn’t give us the full picture? In the previous example, while the Virginia location is closer, maybe on this particular day there are outages and network congestion that mean even though California is physically more distant, it would still provide better performance.
This led us to build a new product, called “Pulsar”. Pulsar lets us harness Real User Monitoring (RUM) data to get a more realistic picture of the Internet and route traffic accordingly.
#8: Pandemic-propelled streaming
When COVID brought the world to a standstill, Internet traffic started growing and setting new records. This was especially true for streaming websites which had newfound demand unlike anything they’d ever seen before.
The added demand forced many companies to improve their networks. And as a premium DNS provider we began working with many of the top streaming brands to provide their customers the best experiences possible.
While 2020-onward wasn’t the easiest of environments to operate a business in, we managed to power through. And since the pandemic we’ve played a major role in some of the biggest streaming events in the world!
#9: IBM acquisition
The decision to join IBM was a monumental one for everyone in the company – my co-founders, our team, and our customers. I was humbled that one of the great American companies that has been innovating for the past 112 years saw NS1 as a perfect fit.
Indeed, the synergy between IBM and NS1 has been amazing. We’re excited about the direction we’re going together and I can’t wait to see how we grow over the next 10 years.
#10: “Better luck next time, guys”
As we were moving out of our first office, carrying boxes out of the building, one of the security guards thought we were just another startup that went bust. He patted my co-founder, Kris, on the shoulder and said, “Better luck next time, guys.”
I wonder what he’d say if he knew what NS1 would become nearly 10 years later.