What is DNS?
The domain name service (DNS) is the phonebook of the Internet. Whenever you load a website, open a mobile app, or click on a cat GIF, your device usually searches for a web address using DNS.
The Internet is made up of connected devices with Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. The domain name service sits on top of the Internet and allows for convenient, easy-to-remember names, nexcess.net, to be translated back to hard-to-remember IP addresses as 188.8.131.52. This is made worse by the Internet’s next generation of addresses, known as IPv6, with long-string addresses such as 2607:f7c0:1:af00:d045:7800:0:1b.
Nexcess DNS, Today
When you host your DNS with Nexcess, as about half our customers currently do, DNS requests from your website visitors are answered from servers located in the US. Even if we host your services in London, Australia, or other international locations, our DNS services are still located in the US.
We go to great lengths to put our DNS servers on third-party networks, which isolates them from potential failures. We also host eight name servers in total, which is double the number typically found among web service providers. At the end of the day, it’s still a US-based DNS infrastructure.
To be clear, concentrating DNS servers in a particular location is a common setup. Due to the nature of DNS, when a user visits your website, their browser or device caches the results and doesn’t need to check DNS again for an extended period of time.
For new visitors from international locations, this can cause something known as first-visit page load delay. These geographically distant users may experience as much as a half-second delay. This may sound trivial, but visitors are quick to notice sluggish load times and tend to avoid sites that suffer from them.
Administrators and developers work tirelessly to shave even fractions of seconds from page load time. A research paper by Google last year found that when delays drift beyond 3 seconds, visitors quickly lose interest and start abandoning sites.
All things being equal – faster is better.
Nexcess Global DNS
We’ve been hard at work the last couple of months deploying a footprint of 15 DNS servers distributed around the world. These servers are strategically positioned so that they provide a local DNS server option for visitors to your site, and significantly reduce first-visit load times.
Nexcess Global DNS uses a technology called Anycast routing, which allows us to broadcast the IP addresses of our DNS server from multiple global locations at the same time. When a visitor loads your website, this technology allows their Internet service provider (ISP) to route the visitor’s DNS requests to the Nexcess DNS server closest to that visitor.
When we stood up the proof-of-concept and looked at the latency differences of Global DNS against our existing DNS, it floored us! The results were significantly better than we expected in reducing DNS first-visit latency. This was some two months ago and it validated our all-in commitment to launching a Global DNS platform.
Following is a real-world example of Global DNS in action. Using a tool provided by KeyCDN.com, we tested latency (round trip time) from 16 global locations, then compared Classic DNS and Global DNS.
Nexcess Global DNS, Going Live!
We will begin transitioning Nexcess DNS to the Global DNS system on Thursday, August 30th. The first maintenance will migrate ns7.nexcess.net and ns8.nexcess.net, with other name servers to follow in the coming weeks. Our goal is to have Global DNS operational for all nexcess.net name servers by the end of September.
There will be no downtime as a result of this migration. The existing Nexcess DNS servers will continue to operate and respond to DNS queries until we’ve confirmed all traffic has moved away from them.
If you’re a Nexcess customer using our DNS, you will enjoy the benefits of our Global DNS for no additional cost, and no action is required.
For instructions on pointing your domain to Nexcess Global DNS, please see our how-to-guide for details.
Where are Nexcess Global DNS servers located?
- Los Angeles
- New york
- San Francisco
Will other Nexcess Global DNS locations be added?
Yes! We are currently looking at adding Bangalore, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Sao Paulo, and Toronto. These locations will help close important gaps and continue to improve the experience for your website visitors.Posted in: General, Nexcess