Entries in AWS (5)

Monday
Dec062010

Route 53 makes its debut, but impact is yet to come.

Amazon AWS today announced the release into beta of their own, hightly scalable DNS service, called Route 53.  (The name is an 'inside joke' based on the standard for DNS, according to which the Directory Name Service responds to queries on port 53.)  Werner Vogels, CTO at Amazon.com, has a nice introduction to DNS, its significance and a quick description of Route 53. 

Amazon Route 53 is a new service in the Amazon Web Services suite that manages DNS names and answers DNS queries. Route 53 provides Authoritative DNS functionality implemented using a world-wide network of highly-available DNS servers. Amazon Route 53 sets itself apart from other DNS services that are being offered in several ways:

A familiar cloud business model: A complete self-service environment with no sales people in the loop. No upfront commitments are necessary and you only pay for what you have used. The pricing is transparent and no bundling is required and no overage fees are charged.

Very fast update propagation times: One of the difficulties with many of the existing DNS services are the very long update propagation times, sometimes it may even take up to 24 hours before updates are received at all replicas. Modern systems require much faster update propagation to for example deal with outages. We have designed Route 53 to propagate updates very quickly and give the customer the tools to find out when all changes have been propagated.

Low-latency query resolution The query resolution functionality of Route 53 is based on anycast, which will route the request automatically to the DNS server that is the closest. This achieves very low-latency for queries which is crucial for the overall performance of internet applications. Anycast is also very robust in the presence of network or server failures as requests are automatically routed to the next closest server.

No lock-in. While we have made sure that Route 53 works really well with other Amazon services such as Amazon EC2 and Amazon S3, it is not restricted to using it within AWS. You can use Route 53 with any of the resources and entities that you want to control, whether they are in the cloud or on premise.

At the risk of falling back on the old bromide (among internet types) that at the end of the day, it's ALWAYS a DNS problem, let's just say that this is as important a commercial offer as AWS has added in some time.  

I expect to read some fairly low-key responses to the introduction of Route 53.  Many will consider this another box to be checked when making a comparison of cloud infrastructure services.  And while most of us in the 'chattering class' haven't had the time yet to dig into it, nor get a feel for its performance, the importance of DNS to the composition of cloud-oriented applications should actually be appreciated as being massive.

Ultimately, cloud infrastructure and platforms offer the basis on which applications are composed, on which data is consumed after being squirrelled away and on which numerous assemblies get 'wired together'.  They depend on the discovery functionality of DNS, on the namespace management it affords and perhaps most importantly the resolution of 'identity' and 'location (in the network topology)'.

I'm looking forward to getting more details as to how else AWS and its customers will end up using Route 53.  Consider this: The extent to which internet-based applications, infrastructure and platforms use DNS is almost unfathomable. The patterns of DNS use generate exceptionally voluminous piles of data, but exceptionally valuable data which, through analysis tells an amazing amount about the applications and their end users.  These breadcrumbs and fingerprints are capable of being revealed by the cost-effective use of services like…wait for it… AWS.  I consider Route 53 to be a basis on which cloud infrastructure can be better monitored and managed, and a basis on which (for both good and evil) application behavior and application 'consumption' can be analyzed in exceptionally creative ways.

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