How NS1 is Speeding Up IT Automation with Private DNS

New platform brings scale, performance and automation advantages required by the largest internet companies to all enterprises embracing new-gen application infrastructure.


Private networks that bypass the mainstream internet to use interconnection-type data centers are becoming more and more desirable for enterprises large and small. Security is the major reason behind this caution in networks, which are most often used by high-end trading companies, governments, the military and various scientific organizations.

Not every company can afford to deploy a private network, in which traffic flow and security is fully controllable by the data owner. But there is an alternative that can provide many of the same tightly secure networking results.

In much this same vein, NS1, which specializes in next-generation DNS (domain name system) control software, has unveiled Private DNS, a new enterprise platform that provides network infrastructure automation and scale advantages already used by large internet companies. Private DNS is self-hosted and designed for enterprises that are modernizing application infrastructures and using everything from on-premises servers to cloud services to microservices containers.

Orchestrates Delivery of New-Gen Enterprise Apps

NS1 makes new-gen DNS platform that orchestrates the delivery of internet and enterprise applications. The platform is built on an API-first architecture and changes standard DNS into an intelligent, efficient and automated networking system.

The internet cannot function very well without DNS in servers. When entering any website’s address (e.g., which is easy to remember), the address is converted into machine readable numbers (for example, IP address 64.383.372.190, which is not easy to remember). Thus, DNS converts the human-readable address into machine-readable IP address. ICANN manages the DNS Root Servers.

As one might expect, security issues lurk here. Hackers search for weaknesses in DNS that can allow them to create fake DNS records. These fake records can trick users to visit fake websites, downloading malicious files and software. Attackers can gain the control and redirect the domain name to another or fake domain.

Thus it is incumbent upon enterprises to utilize safe DNS practices and make sure their security is optimized in this area. This is where a company such as NS1 becomes an important potential attribute.

More Control Needed for Complicated Applications

Applications are becoming more and more complicated and require additional bandwidth control as various times during deployment. These new, highly distributed and dynamic applications are created by agile DevOps teams and delivered through a diverse mix of on-premise, public and private clouds, content delivery networks (CDN) and microservices platforms.

NS1 co-founder and CEO Kris Beevers told eWEEK that Private DNS is the only DNS infrastructure solution designed specifically for modern application delivery--especially apps with microservices in containers.

“It can reduce manual processes and inefficiencies that increase costs and slow application and network changes,” Beevers said. “Private DNS delivers automated traffic routing for the best application experiences; an API-first approach for rapid global change propagation and high-velocity application and infrastructure automation; vendor-agnostic DNS load balancing; and service discovery at cloud scale—all important for successful modern enterprise application delivery.”

Market Consolidation Now a Factor in This Sector

Besides security and data traffic control, there are two other factors to consider involving the emergence of DNS controls here in mid-2018: multi-cloud solutions and market consolidation.

“Two of the biggest technology trends we’re seeing today are around multi-cloud and multi-CDN (content delivery network) initiatives, and all the consolidation we’re seeing in our space is driving all the competitors into the stacks of cloud and CDN providers—and that’s who you’re not going trust if you’re going to fairly balance traffic across multiple clouds or multiple CDNs,” Beevers told eWEEK. “We’re one of the last independent players in the space that customers trust to balance traffic fairly.

“DNS plays a huge role in modernizing the application delivery stack, yet there has been a glaring lack of DNS solutions designed to work in increasingly automated enterprise infrastructure and complex hybrid environments. Our managed DNS platform is already used by the largest, most trafficked internet and cloud companies in the world. Private DNS delivers those same next-generation DNS advantages in a self-hosted solution to accelerate transformation of the legacy stacks of enterprises.”

Security around DNS is always a factor. In a May 2016 blog post, Beevers wrote that the company had faced more than a dozen DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks, with most of them being 20-30 Gbps, above the normal average, and blasting over 10 to 20 million packets per second. Beevers said that, most of the time, attacks were repelled without any downtime to its customers. 

IT and enterprise attributes of NS1’s Private DNS:

  • Control and Automatically Optimize Traffic Performance: Enterprise networks are becoming more complex and widely distributed, requiring advanced traffic management capabilities to ensure availability and performance. NS1’s data-driven platform tracks the availability and status of all the application points of presence across the enterprise then quickly and automatically reacts to changes. Its unique Filter Chain provides an easy and flexible way to optimize routing decisions, resulting in more reliable and responsive applications.
  • Dynamic Infrastructure and Autoscaling: A primary advantage of cloud infrastructure, both private and public, is its ability to auto-scale in response to demand. This empowers modern enterprises to quickly spin up new services and capacity to dramatically improve user experiences. Such dynamic change requires a DNS platform that supports high API call rates and fast change propagation, neither of which can be facilitated by traditional DNS systems. NS1’s Private DNS delivers a 10X improvement in API capacity and reduces propagation times from days or hours to just seconds.
  • Service Discovery at Cloud Scale: As organizations deploy applications into dynamic, cloud-based environments, they need an effective service discovery mechanism to connect new application instances to other applications and users. NS1’s Private DNS ensures that your DNS moves at high velocity to manage discovery of services atop this globally available, canonical service discovery protocol, supporting the scale and performance requirements of modern infrastructure while seamlessly integrating with existing applications.
  • DevOps Ready: An “API first” architecture allows DevOps teams to programmatically integrate DNS changes into their CI/CD deployment processes and tool stack, including Terraform and Ansible. This eliminates the need to send change request tickets to DNS administrators, and is just one of the many benefits unlocked by automation.
  • Cloud Native and Built for Microservices: Traditional platforms are not designed to meet the autoscaling and performance needs of dynamic infrastructure. Private DNS has a modular architecture comprising components that are packaged for deployment into Docker containers. This deployment model reduces resource consumption, enables easy, high-velocity change management, and unlocks more flexible scaling.
  • DNS Global Server Load Balancing: Private DNS enables enterprises to intelligently manage workloads across distributed data centers and virtual private clouds. Its open data feeds enable Private DNS to track availability and workloads at every facility and intelligently shift traffic to ensure the best application performance and capacity utilization. This open, vendor-agnostic approach delivers global server load balancing (GSLB) across multi-vendor, heterogenous data center and cloud infrastructures.
  • Modernization Without Downtime: Capable of supporting both modern and legacy systems, NS1’s Private DNS provides traffic management controls that enable easy and stable migrationto new infrastructure. By moving fractions of traffic at a time to new cloud or hybrid infrastructure, Private DNS reduces the risk of service interruption and compromised performance.
  • Single DNS Platform and Integration for Simplified Management: Private DNS is built for modern infrastructure but at the same time fully supports legacy environments. Enterprises can choose to standardize and train their teams to use the management GUI or the API, or to interface with the NS1 platform via the tools they already use to manage their server, storage and networking.

Many of the highest-trafficked sites and largest global enterprises use NS1, such as Salesforce, LinkedIn, Dropbox, Nielsen, Squarespace, Pandora and The Guardian. To download an IDC industry report on the DNS management sector, go here to register online.

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Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...