Managed DNS

What is Managed DNS?

The Domain Name System (DNS) is the Internet's system for converting human-readable domain names into numeric IP addresses and vice versa. As an example, when a Web address (URL) is typed into a browser, DNS servers return the IP address of the Web server associated with that name. In this made-up example, the DNS converts a URL such as www.company.com, into an IP address, e.g. 192.168.8.51.

So what is the managed DNS model? Managed DNS is a where a customer utilizes authoritative DNS servers hosted by a service provider to store their authoritative DNS records and enable Internet access to their website.

Some of the companies that offer Managed DNS services include:

  • Dyn
  • Cloudflare
  • Amazon Route 53
  • Cloud DNS
  • UltraDNS
  • Verisign Managed DNS
  • Neustar UltraDNS
  • Akamai

Resolving domain names to IP addresses via the DNS is the first step in the process when a user accesses a website or API. If a fresh DNS record is not located in the user's cache, the OS sets off a recursive search to find the IP address for the domain in question. The search ends at an authoritative server that provides the 'authoritative' answer to the user's query.

Dyn is a service that runs authoritative servers on behalf of its customers. Therefore, when Dyn is inaccessible, the DNS records of its customers are also inaccessible, and their sites will become progressively unavailable as the time to live (TTL) of their DNS records expire.

Managed DNS Service Versus Maintaining DNS Infrastructure

Hosting DNS servers usually means that all queries are resolved from a single physical location. If a visitor located far from your DNS server is trying to access a website, it may take a while for the DNS response to reach them. If a DNS server malfunctions or becomes unavailable for some reason it won't be able to provide service and require you to debug it and deploy a fix, while users may not be able to resolve URLs and access your app, website or service until the DNS server is brought back up. Running DNS servers in-house requires knowledge and skills to keep up with the latest security measures to keep the servers running smoothly. DDoS attacks and other threats that can severely degrade the DNS server's availability.

The following are some of the key benefits of using a Managed DNS service provider.

Simplicity — When using a managed DNS provider the website owner is relieved from the responsibilities of setting up and maintaining their own DNS servers.

Cost saving — Since Managed DNS provider resources are getting shared by many different customers in a multi-tenant environment; the customer is saving money on hardware and software maintenance costs.

Security — Security and Denial of Service threats to DNS servers are handled by Managed DNS providers, eliminating the need for their customers to make updates to DNS servers running on-premise.

Performance — Managed DNS providers often commit to providing performance guarantees as part of their service offering. Fast DNS lookups are critical to providing the best website and app performance.

Availability — Managed DNS services eliminate the need to build up infrastructure that is sufficiently resilient and redundant, providing the best possible availability. This redundancy can also be used to support DNS Load Balancing, the practice of configuring a domain with DNS such that client requests to the domain are distributed across a group of servers.

Monitoring Managed DNS Services

Synthetic DNS tests can be used to monitor both on-premise DNS servers, and DNS managed services. DNS tests use cloud monitoring agents (connected to major ISP networks) and on-premises monitoring agents). The use of on-premise agents provides visibility into internal and external DNS infrastructure, while Cloud agents deliver monitoring of publicly-facing DNS.

ThousandEyes Network Intelligence technology and synthetic application testing can play a critical role in addressing the complexities of monitoring DNS infrastructure. Network operations need detailed and accurate network path visibility, along with routing and application layer data to accurately monitor hybrid network performance. Synthetic application testing makes it possible to measure DNS infrastructure across hybrid networks.