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Network World Q&A: Products

Editor’s Note: Dyn Executive Chairman talked with Network World’s John Gallant about Dyn’s product innovation, the rapidly expanding Internet Performance Management market, competition in the space and how Dyn is useful for enterprises. The article was a rich and lengthy Q&A and so we have broken it up to make it more digestible. The below discusses Dyn’s product offerings.

When you talk about Dyn’s Internet Performance Management platform, what does that consist of?

At the core of everything Dyn does is we resolve DNS queries and we resolve them in the form of a managed service. Obviously, you’re familiar with the DNS query and the fact that when a DNS query is resolved you have an opportunity to make a number of choices about how you direct traffic, especially in complex network environments. We make those choices intelligently and we make them in a way that guarantees an optimized outcome – a performance optimization or a cost optimization. We do that with another component of the platform which is built around data.

Dyn has a unique set of data collectors that are distributed throughout the internet infrastructure out at the edge, in transit providers and elsewhere, where we are able to collect hundreds of billions of data points a day monitoring how traffic is flowing through the global internet. We use that information to help us make good decisions about how we steer traffic. That’s how we can optimize for performance or cost or routing, even geopolitical optimizations to avoid certain country borders.

There is a third broad capability in the platform which is around visualization and understanding of the network infrastructure as you’re deploying it, the reachability of it, the performance of it and the topology of your network infrastructure as you’re using perhaps multiple CDNs or multiple cloud providers. People really want to understand how traffic is flowing and they’re trying to optimize performance, geopolitically or cost-wise across these distributed assets. The three big tenets of the platform – DNS, data and data as a service and the network visibility and analytics – really tie together to create what we call the IPM Platform.

What do your Internet Intelligence products do?

Internet Intelligence (II) is the set of products that provide this level of transparency and visibility to people who are deploying network infrastructure, specifically outside-the-firewall network infrastructure.

The Internet Intelligence products are a front end for many of the data offerings that we have. They allow you to see how traffic flows, they allow you to see the availability of various resources, they allow you to compare performance of different CDN assets, they allow you to compare the performance of different cloud assets. The Internet Intelligence products are about creating that portal of visibility into assets, performance of assets and how assets are utilized. The information that is being displayed, the content that is being displayed through II, is largely the content that is collected by Dyn’s data services, though many customers also include some of their own data services.

How do you capitalize on all this intelligence you’re collecting from all the customers using this cloud-based offering? What can you share with people and what can’t you share out of that intelligence?

There’s a lot that you can leverage from the data. Think about the idea of evaluating CDN assets and making decisions based on performance or cost – which CDN is the most effective not just globally but by specific geography. I think that’s a very interesting one. If you want to leverage different distributions of various cloud providers, different geos of different cloud providers, we give you the visibility to make those decisions most effectively. Again, the benefit is derived in the form of cost and cost mitigation and performance and then resiliency. The value proposition always translates really into those fundamental areas.

Can you go into a little bit more detail about the traffic shaping products and what problems those solve or what opportunities those create for customers?

Most of the traffic management capability that Dyn provides is built around DNS-based traffic steering. We use DNS at that fundamental layer of the internet as a platform for traffic steering decisions and steering decisions are based on policy. Policy could be that we want to steer based on avoiding certain geographies, or we want to steer to resolve a particular shape of traffic we’re observing that is manifesting itself in the form of a DDoS attack. We would steer around that. Or we want to provide steering based on real-time performance data that we’re collecting through our data products. That’s, I think, a good example where you see the power of integrating the managed DNS platform with the real-time data collection and closing the loop using data to help apply the policy to achieve the objective.

I think you said that that kind of traffic shaping is done in real time based on policies. Is that correct?

That’s correct, yes. We use the data assets to inform the policy and we use the managed DNS platform to enforce the policy.

So, Jim, do you see that at some point becoming adaptive and learning and being able to do that more on its own as conditions change on the internet?

In fact, that’s what we’re doing right now. We think this is one of the very interesting things that tie together the value of the data asset and the value of the steering. Today, we literally collect, as I said, hundreds of billions of data points to profile performance on the internet. We use the results of that real-time data collection to apply a performance-driven policy in traffic steering. That loop is closed right now in the Dyn product line.

I also wanted to ask about that multi-CDN capability. Can you talk a little bit more in depth about that and what that allows people to do?

What’s the objective in multi-CDN for a customer? The objective always is: I want to make sure my content is located in a way that it’s delivered in a high-performance manner to the end customer and to do that cost-effectively. With the II products we give the customer tremendous visibility into the performance of the CDN choices that they have and we allow them to play ‘what-if’. What if we use either a different instance of our current CDN or what if we use a different CDN provider altogether? One of the benefits of Dyn as a stand-alone monitoring business is that we create the opportunity for people to see across CDN providers as opposed to seeing inside of just one CDN provider. Typically, from the CDN providers you can get a lot of visibility about that CDN’s network and performance but it’s very hard to get a more neutral view across multiple CDN providers. We provide that capability so that our customers can look at CDNs and trade them off one another and make the decisions that optimize their costs.

Jim, I’m going to shift to some questions about the company and the competitive landscape, but is there anything else important about the products that you would want an IT executive to understand?

Our customer base has substantial interest in Dyn’s products as enablers in this migration to hybrid cloud. Enterprises are leveraging an increasing number of cloud services and they are quickly realizing they lack visibility into how those resources play together and how they control the performance and resiliency of their applications in infrastructure that they don’t directly control. They’re moving workloads out of the captive data center into cloud environments and it is critically important that they be able to manage those new applications and provide the level of service that they’ve been able to provide through their captive data centers. Helping companies move to the internet and operate as they were able to within their own proprietary data center environments is an important theme in the Dyn value proposition today.

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