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DNS: The Technology You’ve Always Used and Never Thought About

If you told me a couple years ago that I would be talking about DNS at the dinner table, I would have laughed, followed by “wait, what is DNS?” But with a brother who is an IT Manager at WhippleHill (a customer on the Dynect Platform) and me being the resident Marketing Manager at Dyn, it comes up more than you might think. It’s just that now both of us are trying to explain what exactly DNS is and why everyone, from the hobbyist to the Fortune 500 company, uses it and more than that, are willing to pay for it.

So, what is DNS?

At the core, DNS is the Internet’s phone book. Because the Internet uses numbers as its language, not words and letters, each Web address is assigned a numeric location called an IP address. It’s because of DNS that when I want to log on to Facebook, I don’t have to remember to type in 69.63.189.16 to my Web browser (thank God). Obviously, unless we were all a bunch of number crunchers, getting anywhere on the Web would be a slow, painful process without DNS.

Whether you’ve realized it or not (yes even you, online shoe shopper) have used DNS.

But if DNS is just part of the Internet, why do people pay for it?

Well, there’s a little more to it than requesting a website and getting a return. People who understand their Web presence is critical will pay to simplify and manage what happens in between.

The basics go something like this:

When a Web user types an address into the browser bar, the request gets sent to a DNS server that then sends back the location. The user then gets directed to the Web owner/operator’s datacenter or location where the content/site they are looking for is kept and voila, website. Bet you newbies had no idea the process was so intense, right? Well buckle up, because it only gets more complex from here.

Onto the meat of this post and digging into why people would pay for someone to manage this for them. Above were the very basics, and if you had your own personal website whose core function was to post your latest pictures for friends and family, the management of your DNS infrastructure might not be top of mind for you. If your site goes down, the worst that might happen is an annoyed phone call from someone trying to access your pictures.

Now imagine you are that a major online shoe retailer (let’s say Zappos since they happen to be our client) and on average, you get 1000 hits to your site per minute and each of those hits spends $20 on merchandise (this is likely a very low estimate especially as we approach the holidays). Now let’s imagine the worst happens — a DNS outage. Even if your site is down for 10 minutes, that’s a loss of $200,000 dollars in revenue. OUCH! Hopefully that puts things in perspective about the importance of redundant and reliable DNS.

Add to all of this that the management of DNS and the continual innovation of technology and the infrastructure to support it would require a full-time staff of experts. When you also consider of all the advanced features you could utilize on a platform like Dynect, you might start to grasp why people would turn to experts like those working at Dyn Inc.

The more you know about DNS the more possibilities for the optimization of your Web traffic you will realize.

For example, take our latest advanced feature: Real-Time Traffic Management. This product is so advanced that it automatically monitors and calculates the fastest route for Web users to access their online destinations. Now think about what that would mean to a company like Zappos, whose revenue is directly tied to how many eyeballs (and credit cards) can access their site.

For many in the Dyn office, this post is stating the obvious, but for those in need of a crash course (like most of the family and friends of Dyn employees),  I hope this clears up at least a few points. Feel free to print this and distribute at holiday dinners. Your friends will be thankful for the explanation!


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