Even working in Amazon Web Services, I’m finding the frequency of new product announcements and updates a bit dizzying. It’s amazing how fast the cloud is taking shape and the feature set is filling out. Utility computing has really been on fire over the last 9 months. I’ve never seen an entire new industry created and come fully to life this fast. Fun times.
Before joining AWS, I used to say that I had an inside line on what AWS was working upon and what new features were coming in the near future. My trick? I went to AWS customer meetings and just listened. AWS delivers what customers are asking for with such regularity that it’s really not all that hard to predict new product features soon to be delivered. This trend continues with today’s announcement. Customers have been asking for a Domain Name Service with consistency and, today, AWS is announcing the availability of Route 53, a scalable, highly-redundant and reliable, global DNS service.
The Domain Name System is essentially a global, distributed database that allows various pieces of information to be associated with a domain name. In the most common case, DNS is used to look up the numeric IP address for an domain name. So, for example, I just looked up Amazon.com and found that one of the addresses being used to host Amazon.com is 188.8.131.52. And, when your browser accessed this blog (assuming you came here directly rather than using RSS) it would have looked up perspectives.mvdirona.com to get an IP address. This mapping is stored in an DNS “A” (address) record. Other popular DNS records are CNAME (canonical name), MX (mail exchange), and SPF (Sender Policy Framework). A full list of DNS record types is at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_DNS_record_types. Route 53 currently supports:
• A (address record)
• AAAA (IPv6 address record)
• CNAME (canonical name record)
• MX (mail exchange record)
• NS (name server record)
• PTR (pointer record)
• SOA (start of authority record)
• SPF (sender policy framework)
• SRV (service locator)
• TXT (text record)
DNS, on the surface, is fairly simple and is easy to understand. What is difficult with DNS is providing absolute rock-solid stability at scales ranging from a request per day on some domains to billions on others. Running DNS rock-solid, low-latency, and highly reliable is hard. And it’s just the kind of problem that loves scale. Scale allows more investment in the underlying service and supports a wide, many-datacenter footprint.
The AWS Route 53 Service is hosted in a global network of edge locations including the following 16 facilities:
· United States
• Ashburn, VA
• Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
• Los Angeles, CA
• Miami, FL
• New York, NY
• Newark, NJ
• Palo Alto, CA
• Seattle, WA
• St. Louis, MO
• Hong Kong
Many DNS lookups are resolved in local caches but, when there is a cache miss, it will need to be routed back to the authoritative name server. The right approach to answering these requests with low latency is to route to the nearest datacenter hosting an appropriate DNS server. In Route 53 this is done using anycast. Anycast is a cool routing trick where the same IP address range is advertised to be at many different locations. Using this technique, the same IP address range is advertized as being in each of the world-wide fleet of datacenters. This results in the request being routed to the nearest facility from a network perspective.
Route 53 routes to the nearest datacenter to deliver low-latency, reliable results. This is good but Route 53 is not the only DNS service that is well implemented over a globally distributed fleet of datacenters. What makes Route 53 unique is it’s a cloud service. Cloud means the price is advertised rather than negotiated. Cloud means you make an API call rather than talking to a sales representative. Cloud means it’s a simple API and you don’t need professional services or a customer support contact. And cloud means its running NOW rather than tomorrow morning when the administration team comes in. Offering a rock-solid service is half the battle but it’s the cloud aspects of Route 53 that are most interesting.
Route 53 pricing is advertised and available to all:
· Hosted Zones: $1 per hosted zone per month
· Requests: $0.50 per million queries for first billion queries and $0.25 per million queries over 1B month
You can have it running in less time than it took to read this posting. Go to: ROUTE 53 Details. You don’t need to talk to anyone, negotiate a volume discount, hire a professional service team, call the customer support group, or wait until tomorrow. Make the API calls to set it up and, on average, 60 seconds later you are fully operating.