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  1. #1

    Does GeoDNS really speed things up?

    I've seen some arguments on the web as to whether geodns really speeds things up or not(cant remember the details).

    Is there anyone here who actually uses (or used) GeoDNS and can shed some light on this? Did you actually see improved speeds with GD?

    Thanks in advance,

    Feivi18

  2. #2
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    If you have geographically diverse servers then geo DNS can definitely show a noticeable improvement in speed/latency if you set it up right. In my experience though, its better if you can do it at the service level, such as an automatic redirect to a subdomain; the DNS server people use is not always in the same location as the client requesting the connection (such as openDNS and google DNS). Detecting location and redirecting at the service level rather than DNS level will have much more accurate results as you detect the location based on the actual client connection, and not the location of the DNS server.

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    Agreed. I would like to add that some applications use geoDNS to put authoritative name servers (instead content servers) "near" visitor's cache name servers.
    You will only find out how good a provider is when the going gets tough

  4. #4
    Could you please explain what you mean with "service level" and "dns level"?

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    What i mean is, say you have the domain www.example.com
    and servers in Canada and the Netherlands...

    ca.example.com and nl.example.com would address these servers directly, and both servers would be in the main www.example.com round robin.

    when someone accesses www.example.com in a web browser, either server can answer it, it will then determine the location of the connecting client and redirect to the closest server by its subdomain, so someone connecting from north america would be redirected to ca.example.com, while someone connecting from europe could be redirected to nl.example.com

    with just dns level you stick to simply www.example.com but you can only use the location of the requesting dns server, not of the actual client.

  6. #6
    LinuxHostedTech, thanks for your replies. I'm somewhat a newbie at this :-( , so please bear with me.

    I'm still not clear about the difference. If I have both ca. and nl. in the .com round robin, that is still a dns issue, no? So in any case the user's browser will have to access my dns server and then be sent in its way.

    It seems like your saying that in one case, we can read the location of the user, and in the other, only the location of the dns server, but I don't understand why this is?

    Thanks for your patience...

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    Well the reason why with just dns all you can get is the location of the dns server and not the user is quite simple. DNS typically works like this:

    User requests address from their local DNS server > local DNS server either goes out to another caching server or contacts the domain's DNS servers and asks for the address > the domain's servers then reply with the address > and the local server sends it back to the user... since the domain's dns servers are never directly in contact with the user, it has no way of knowing the ip address of the user, and therefor can only be as location specific as the ip address of the local dns resolver.

    For many users this is not an issue because the local resolver is usually in the same country as the user, but for anyone who prefers to use public dns servers like OpenDNS or Google DNS they will most likely all get the same result, no matter where in the world the user actually is.

    Both methods do indeed involve some setup on the DNS side yes, but IMHO, the service level geolocation is much better and easier to implement.

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    I think you 2 might be talking about 2 different understandings of GeoDNS

    LinuxHostedTech is possibly talking about this: http://www.caraytech.com/geodns/

    feivi18 - If you mean "Does having DNS servers in different parts of the world speed things up?" then the answer is yes "to a degree".

    There are exceptions, but having DNS servers in different parts of the world does often help the speed of lookup of your domain, whether it be for web browsing, sending it email, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by F-DNS View Post
    I think you 2 might be talking about 2 different understandings of GeoDNS

    LinuxHostedTech is possibly talking about this: http://www.caraytech.com/geodns/
    Well, that link is the DNS method that i was talking about. The service level method I described is totally different from that and requires no DNS side location awareness.

    As for if you mean GeoDNS as having geographically located dns servers (possibly being anycasted) as providing any speed increase, I would have to say that while it may speed up non-cached lookups, the difference is likely to be minimal because for typical uses, most DNS queries will be cached, and any time that the domain's nameservers are not cached in a local resolver, it doesn't matter where they are located, because they will always have to go back and ask the root server first what the nameservers for the particular domain is.

    So to recap, Geographically diverse DNS hosting will only a provide minimal speed boost, a DNS server which is location aware can provide a moderate speed boost, while service level location awareness can provide the biggest boost in speed/latency.

    edit: you can also combine Geographically Diverse Anycasted DNS hosting and service level location awareness to provide the best of both worlds.
    Last edited by LinuxHostedTech; 05-23-2011 at 04:34 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LinuxHostedTech View Post
    a DNS server which is location aware can provide a moderate speed boost, while service level location awareness can provide the biggest boost in speed/latency.
    The DNS server which is location aware can provide the biggest boost most of time as visitors usually use "near" cache name servers. Service level is complementary and should be used only to correct educated guesses made by geoDNS.
    You will only find out how good a provider is when the going gets tough

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    Quote Originally Posted by LinuxHostedTech View Post
    for typical uses, most DNS queries will be cached, and any time that the domain's nameservers are not cached in a local resolver, it doesn't matter where they are located, because they will always have to go back and ask the root server first what the nameservers for the particular domain is.
    So are you suggesting that it doesn't matter if I run 2 nameservers in the same or similar location, or 2 in locations thousands of miles apart, it makes no difference, and each will receive 50% of the lookups, and that those lookups will all come from random locations worldwide? (Without running any "Geo-anything")

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    Quote Originally Posted by F-DNS View Post
    So are you suggesting that it doesn't matter if I run 2 nameservers in the same or similar location, or 2 in locations thousands of miles apart, it makes no difference, and each will receive 50% of the lookups, and that those lookups will all come from random locations worldwide? (Without running any "Geo-anything")
    that is not what I'm suggesting at all, there are reasons other than speed/latency that need to be taken into account for dns, the primary reason for having geographically diverse servers has nothing to do with speed, because unless they are anycasted it doesn't really make any difference because queries no matter where they come from goto a random nameserver. you would want geographically diverse dns servers (even without anycasting) simply for the case of, what if there is some kind of natural disaster or major network outages in a particular area..

    My answer was just to the question at hand, and because of the nature of dns, simply having geographically diverse servers alone will not make much difference in speed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LinuxHostedTech View Post
    because unless they are anycasted it doesn't really make any difference because queries no matter where they come from goto a random nameserver.
    Sorry, but that's not correct in practice. DNS queries (or resolvers) do tend to be drawn toward nameservers they "favour". In fact some instances of anycast deliberately give preference to local nodes so that local resolvers (to them) are not disadvanteged by being encouraged to look further afield.

    Quote Originally Posted by LinuxHostedTech View Post
    you would want geographically diverse dns servers (even without anycasting) simply for the case of, what if there is some kind of natural disaster or major network outages in a particular area.
    I agree that that was the original argument for having diverse nameservers, and it still stands, but things have also evolved since. Resolvers seem to "befriend" nameservers these days, be it because of proximity or connectivity or performance (or a mixture of all 3) so without any form of *-casting you can still influence, and improve, your DNS performance.

    Quote Originally Posted by LinuxHostedTech View Post
    simply having geographically diverse servers alone will not make much difference in speed.
    On that we're gonna have to disagree

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    Hi,

    I just stumpled upon this really interesting discussion. I would like to ask a slightly different question.

    Let's say that I have two different content servers, one in canada and one in netherlands, and I set up GeoDNS to direct client requests from north america to the server in canada and requests from Europe to the server in netherlands. In which of the following two cases I will see bigger speed improvement:

    1) My website serves a large number of requests but each file served is small 10-50KB.

    2) My website serves a small number of requests but each file served is large 10-50MB.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by LinuxHostedTech View Post
    Well, that link is the DNS method that i was talking about. The service level method I described is totally different from that and requires no DNS side location awareness.

    As for if you mean GeoDNS as having geographically located dns servers (possibly being anycasted) as providing any speed increase, I would have to say that while it may speed up non-cached lookups, the difference is likely to be minimal because for typical uses, most DNS queries will be cached, and any time that the domain's nameservers are not cached in a local resolver, it doesn't matter where they are located, because they will always have to go back and ask the root server first what the nameservers for the particular domain is.

    So to recap, Geographically diverse DNS hosting will only a provide minimal speed boost, a DNS server which is location aware can provide a moderate speed boost, while service level location awareness can provide the biggest boost in speed/latency.

    edit: you can also combine Geographically Diverse Anycasted DNS hosting and service level location awareness to provide the best of both worlds.
    I really have to disagree here. For one of our larger sites, we use dnsmadeeasy and it helps out a lot. hyperspin shows a dramatic reduction in dns resolution time for using DME vs not. Given the low cost of it, and how it's easy to set up, it's really a no brainer, for both the reliability and the performance benefit.

    For the site in question, you would assume dns caching takes most of the traffic: it does *not*. We get the better part of a million uniques daily all from one ISP (turkish telecom), and the number of DNS requests to DME is absolutely insane despite what you would assume about DNS caching. For our most popular domains, we had to set the TTL to 6 hours to get the queries / month to a workable level.

    In any case, it may seem like a small thing to have your DNS perform a little faster, but it adds up quickly since many DNS requests have to recurse through several servers and several requests to get to the final answer. Since loading a website can require several DNS lookups, using a DNS provider like dns made easy for geographically dispersed DNS has got to be the lowest hanging performance fruit you're going to find.

    This kind of setup isn't the end-all be-all of performance improvements, but it provides a substantial improvement with little cost, and is very easy to set up. You can't say that about too many solutions for improving site load times.
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    Ok... I think the thread is going back and forth on topics here... Or maybe I just am.

    It seems to me that people are confusing terms....


    GeoDNS (geo-targeting) is the name of the service that will usually respond with different IPs if you ask for the DNS response from different geographic regions. So if you query from a resolving name server in Europe, you get one IP, if you query from a resolving name server in United States, you get another IP....etc.. Basically your www.yourdomain.com will be a different IP depending on where you query for it.

    Does this speed up your web hosting? Hell yeah it does. But you obviously need to have hosting of your site / pictures in these geographic regions for this to happen. Companies like UltraDNS, Edgedirector, DNSMadeEasy, Akami all have services like this.

    IP Anycast DNS services are something different. This service will actually keep your DNS query in the same geographic location. So your query in Europe will only be answered by name servers in Europe. Same for different parts of the United States and Asia. Your query should never cross the water (or any large amounts of land) and cause the extra 50ms to 150ms delay in answering your query. Companiess that offer this are UltraDNS, Akamai, DNSMadeEasy, etc.. IP Anycast has other advantages as well... but that's for another discussion. Most of the root name servers, all of the COM/NET name servers for instance use IP Anycast routing. Some companies do the IP Anycast themselves or they use someone elses network. Dynect and LoadDNS for instance just uses the Edgecast CDN service.

    GeoDNS does not mean that you use IP anycast routing.
    GeoDNS can be done with IP anycast routing or with a lookup utility (like maxmind) that will reply with different views of the IPs.
    Last edited by BuffaloBill; 07-12-2011 at 12:42 AM.

  17. #17
    I think the OP was referring to georgraphically dispersed dns servers.

    The repliers tended to talk about replying to dns requests differently depending on geography, which is a substantially more complex solution as it is only really useful if you're hosting your content at multiple locations. For a dynamic website, this is usually not particularly feasible because of issues with databases, latency, replication, etc. For static content, this is usually best done with a CDN instead of trying to do it yourself, because of all of the complexity involved, and needing hosting in multiple locations.

    Therefore, someone who is asking if Geodns is worth it, is probably referring to geographically dispersed dns, rather than referring to one part of a hugely complicated cdn solution. In this context, geodns is an essential component of a CDN, so it wouldn't even be worth asking if geodns was worthwhile, you would simply cut to the chase and ask if a CDN is worthwhile.

    Because of all of these reasons, we've made the assumption that the OP is talking about geographically dispersed dns resolvers all replying with the same results, rather than the perhaps more technically accurate interpretation of geodns meaning geotargeting.
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    Quote Originally Posted by funkywizard View Post
    For static content, this is usually best done with a CDN instead of trying to do it yourself, because of all of the complexity involved, and needing hosting in multiple locations.
    I am not sure that I agree with the statement above. I am new to CDN and GeoDNS, but based on my research so far, it seems it is not that difficult to set up hosting in multiple locations especially if you are serving static content which does not change often, which is the case for us.

    We serve software downloads. The file sizes are rather large, 10-50MB each, but the files do not change often, so keeping the files on different servers in sync should not be a problem. And we really need only to set up download servers in two locations, US and Europe, which are most of our clients are from. We plan t use the US server to serve requests from America/Asia/Pacific and the Europe server to serve requests from Europe/MiddleEast/Africa. I also will need to use a GeoDNS service privided by a company like DNSMadeEasy to direct the requests to the appropriate server based on the location where the requests are originated.

    I have also looked into the CDN services provided by companies like MaxCDN and found that the cost is much higher by going with with a CDN service provider. The low cost CDN providers usually only have edge servers in North America and Europe. The higher-end CDN providers with a true global presence will cost you 2-3 times more than the low cost ones. In our case, even going with a low-cost CDN provider will cost us quite a bit more than doing it on our own.

    Since we already have a GoDaddy dedicated server in the US, we just need to lease another dedicated server with a European hosting company and then subscribe to a GeoDNS service to direct a portion of the traffic to the new download server in Europe.

    Am I on the right track? Or have I overlooked certain things? As I said earlier, I am new to GeoDNS and CDN.

    Now there is still a question remaining about how much speed improvement my european customers will see once the new download server is up. I will appreciate if someone share his experience or offer an educated opinion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jwt8070 View Post
    Am I on the right track? Or have I overlooked certain things? As I said earlier, I am new to GeoDNS and CDN.

    No, you are 100% correct.
    You can put up shared hosting services in multiple locations and use something like EdgeDirector, UltraDNS, DNSMadeEasy, etc.. and direct them to the closest location.
    Shared hosting services can be about $10 per month per locaton and a GeoDNS service can be another $40 or so per month. So you can have a do-it-yourself CDN for $80 per month and get a lot more capacity then if you paid a CDN company to handle it.


    Quote Originally Posted by jwt8070 View Post
    Now there is still a question remaining about how much speed improvement my european customers will see once the new download server is up. I will appreciate if someone share his experience or offer an educated opinion.
    I have generally noticed web pages take about 1/3 of the time to load. Think about it... every single bit of every single graphic is saving about 150 ms (300 ms round trip) if you are hosting in Europe and someone is on the Western United States (or vice versa). You will get major speed improvement. Highly suggested if you care about SEO and general website performance.

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    Bill,

    Quote Originally Posted by BuffaloBill View Post
    No, you are 100% correct.
    I glad to hear it. Thank you.

    Quote Originally Posted by BuffaloBill View Post
    I have generally noticed web pages take about 1/3 of the time to load. Think about it... every single bit of every single graphic is saving about 150 ms (300 ms round trip) if you are hosting in Europe and someone is on the Western United States (or vice versa). You will get major speed improvement. Highly suggested if you care about SEO and general website performance.
    In our situation, we do not serve web pages. We serve software downloads and the file size of each download is rather large, 10-50MB. Do you think our European customers will see a significant speed improvement once we set up a download server in Europe?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jwt8070 View Post
    In our situation, we do not serve web pages. We serve software downloads and the file size of each download is rather large, 10-50MB. Do you think our European customers will see a significant speed improvement once we set up a download server in Europe?
    This is actually more of a routing question than dns. When it comes to large downloads, it has nothing to do with latency, and all to do with the amount of bandwidth available on a specific route. If the current server has very good routing all around the world, then no, you would not see much difference, but that is likely not the case.

    In most cases yes, having a closer server, even for large files, is going to provide a big improvement in speed, but not in all situations, its possible even for a closer server to be slower if the routing to it is bad.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jwt8070 View Post
    Do you think our European customers will see a significant speed improvement once we set up a download server in Europe?
    Surely. The best locations are: London, Frankfurt/Dusseldorf, and Amsterdam.
    You will only find out how good a provider is when the going gets tough

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by dotHostel View Post
    The DNS server which is location aware can provide the biggest boost most of time as visitors usually use "near" cache name servers.
    That is a very important point that many people overlook in their push for global performance when considering geodns.

    Most areas of the world can achiever a round trip time to an authoritative name server in less than 250ms. There are exceptions such as Shanghai where the RTT can be quite long.

    The authoritative answer that is returned to the users' caching dns server is then, well ... cached.

    Until the record expires, all users of that isp will get their answers from cache. The RTT, ignoring the slower network to the end user, is usually sub 20ms.

    And, an individual user's machine will again cache until the TTL expires or a connection fails.

    Thus, for a user *session* which may involve multiple retrievals, the dns lookup time is one RTT, and that RTT is amortised over the entire session.

    The unlucky first user to hit an empty cache might see a worst case RTT of 500ms if he is really far away.

    A subsequent user who hits a hot cache might get a RTT of under 10ms. Certainly nothing over 50ms.

    Both users will spread that RTT cost over their entire session. And that session will be to the closest content server.

    The more popular a site is, the more likely that the caching dns server is going to have the correct record already in cache. And that record will point at the closest physical content server.
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  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by dotHostel View Post
    Surely. The best locations are: London, Frankfurt/Dusseldorf, and Amsterdam.
    From testing ping times, those are probably the best compromises across Europe. Networks are different in Europe. Lots and lots of peering.

    Expect ping times of under 30ms from most of Europe. Even Moscow will see ping times under 70ms or so.

    There are a few Eastern European countries, not all, that will be slower due to their networks. But, they will still be faster than to anywhere else.

    Italy would be a really great location for an even better compromise in location for pan EMEA coverage, but not much is seen for hosting choices at WHT.
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  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by jwt8070 View Post
    I am not sure that I agree with the statement above. I am new to CDN and GeoDNS, but based on my research so far, it seems it is not that difficult to set up hosting in multiple locations especially if you are serving static content which does not change often, which is the case for us.

    We serve software downloads. The file sizes are rather large, 10-50MB each, but the files do not change often, so keeping the files on different servers in sync should not be a problem. And we really need only to set up download servers in two locations, US and Europe, which are most of our clients are from. We plan t use the US server to serve requests from America/Asia/Pacific and the Europe server to serve requests from Europe/MiddleEast/Africa. I also will need to use a GeoDNS service privided by a company like DNSMadeEasy to direct the requests to the appropriate server based on the location where the requests are originated.

    I have also looked into the CDN services provided by companies like MaxCDN and found that the cost is much higher by going with with a CDN service provider. The low cost CDN providers usually only have edge servers in North America and Europe. The higher-end CDN providers with a true global presence will cost you 2-3 times more than the low cost ones. In our case, even going with a low-cost CDN provider will cost us quite a bit more than doing it on our own.

    Since we already have a GoDaddy dedicated server in the US, we just need to lease another dedicated server with a European hosting company and then subscribe to a GeoDNS service to direct a portion of the traffic to the new download server in Europe.

    Am I on the right track? Or have I overlooked certain things? As I said earlier, I am new to GeoDNS and CDN.

    Now there is still a question remaining about how much speed improvement my european customers will see once the new download server is up. I will appreciate if someone share his experience or offer an educated opinion. :)
    If you're willing to program things yourself, this certainly works fine. In fact you don't need geodns at all. Simply have server 1 be "us.yourdownloadsite.com" and server 2 "eu.yourdownloadsite.com". If you're programming in php, you can simply install the maxmind geoip software / module on your server, and then when someone loads an html page that includes the download link, you'll have logic like:

    if ($country == "US" || $country == "CA") { $linkhost = "us.yourdownloadsite.com"; }
    else { $linkhost = "eu.yourdownloadsite.com"; }

    $link = $linkhost . $filepath . $filename;

    There's no need for GeoDNS in order to achieve this. If a particular solution requires programming, I typically don't consider it a great solution, as many people just throw up a script on their server like wordpress and run with it, without knowing how to program. For those kinds of people, editing their program and syncing files to various servers, is out of their reach. For your particular situation, rolling your own solution seems perfectly fine.
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    Quote Originally Posted by funkywizard View Post
    If you're willing to program things yourself, this certainly works fine. In fact you don't need geodns at all. Simply have server 1 be "us.yourdownloadsite.com" and server 2 "eu.yourdownloadsite.com". If you're programming in php, you can simply install the maxmind geoip software / module on your server, and then when someone loads an html page that includes the download link, you'll have logic like:

    if ($country == "US" || $country == "CA") { $linkhost = "us.yourdownloadsite.com"; }
    else { $linkhost = "eu.yourdownloadsite.com"; }

    $link = $linkhost . $filepath . $filename;

    There's no need for GeoDNS in order to achieve this. If a particular solution requires programming, I typically don't consider it a great solution, as many people just throw up a script on their server like wordpress and run with it, without knowing how to program. For those kinds of people, editing their program and syncing files to various servers, is out of their reach. For your particular situation, rolling your own solution seems perfectly fine.
    For this particular situation, there is no need for programming either -- just display the 2 links and let the visitor choose among available download servers
    You will only find out how good a provider is when the going gets tough

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    Quote Originally Posted by LinuxHostedTech View Post
    This is actually more of a routing question than dns. When it comes to large downloads, it has nothing to do with latency, and all to do with the amount of bandwidth available on a specific route. If the current server has very good routing all around the world, then no, you would not see much difference, but that is likely not the case.
    Will server in larger and more established hosting companies in Europe have better routing to other parts of Europe compared to smaller hosting companies?

    Our current download server is with GoDaddy in the US. From the best we can tell, the download speed is not bad in various parts of the US. I wonder when we lease a dedicated server in Europe, we should work with an established hosting company and avoid the smaller ones.

  28. #28
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    If you're serving all your content from one server you're not going to notice much of a difference. With DNS you're looking at saving at most 300ms ONE TIME, assuming their ISP isn't caching it. Now, if it is 300ms extra per request every time they make a request to your single server anyone, that one extra 300ms request won't make much of a real difference. Now, if you have geographically distributed web servers it can certainly make sense.

    With as few DNS queries that are made to request your page and the amount DNS info gets cached anyway geographically distributed just isn't worth it in most cases, just a ploy to get people to spend more money, imho. As a stand alone solution it is almost worthless, though as part of a more integrated/complex solution it certainly can make sense.
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  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by KarlZimmer View Post
    If you're serving all your content from one server you're not going to notice much of a difference. With DNS you're looking at saving at most 300ms ONE TIME, assuming their ISP isn't caching it. Now, if it is 300ms extra per request every time they make a request to your single server anyone, that one extra 300ms request won't make much of a real difference. Now, if you have geographically distributed web servers it can certainly make sense.

    With as few DNS queries that are made to request your page and the amount DNS info gets cached anyway geographically distributed just isn't worth it in most cases, just a ploy to get people to spend more money, imho. As a stand alone solution it is almost worthless, though as part of a more integrated/complex solution it certainly can make sense.
    I'm only paying $50 / year to do this for 25 domains, so to me it's more than worth it. Not only do you reduce latency, but because of how UDP / DNS works, if you lose a packet, the latency for DNS lookups goes up by a heck of a lot compared to if you don't. First it has to time out, then it has to try another DNS server. In the meantime, your site doesn't load. The anycast dns helps with latency, and presumably, because there are fewer hops to lose your data, less packet loss. In many cases, where a site seems to just hang and hang, or you have to retry loading it, it was a DNS issue. That's an easy way to lose a visitor. For $50 / year, it's a cheap solution to that problem.

    The biggest reason I switched to using it though is so that I don't have to be responsible for maintaining reliable dns infrastructure. I've had a few cases where dns failures brought down entire clusters of servers hosting high traffic sites. In one or two cases, I thought I had redundancy that I didn't, where I thought I had multiple servers serving out DNS, but it turned out that only one of them had been working properly the whole time, and when that server's dns failed, the whole show stopped.

    In another case, I had multiple servers serving dns (correctly this time), but my hosting provider had one of their internal network segments go down. All the DNS servers were in that one segment of my host's network, but only about half my web servers were in that segment. Had I been hosting external DNS, I would have been able to service at least half of my visitors, because they would be accessing the servers on the working network segment. Because my DNS failed, nobody could access the site.

    Both of these failures were a serious pain to troubleshoot and correct, and my sites had serious issues for most of the day in each case. For $50 / year, that's cheap insurance. Even the time it takes to troubleshoot a problem like this, and the headache of it, is worth avoiding these issues entirely, even aside from the performance improvements. When you factor in the money you could lose by having your DNS servers be down, it's even more of a no brainer.
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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwt8070 View Post
    Will server in larger and more established hosting companies in Europe have better routing to other parts of Europe compared to smaller hosting companies?

    Our current download server is with GoDaddy in the US. From the best we can tell, the download speed is not bad in various parts of the US. I wonder when we lease a dedicated server in Europe, we should work with an established hosting company and avoid the smaller ones.
    Does anyone have advice on selecting a hosting company for leasing a dedicated server to ensure better routing to other parts of Europe? Should one stay away from smaller hosting comnpanies?

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by funkywizard View Post
    I'm only paying $50 / year to do this for 25 domains, so to me it's more than worth it. Not only do you reduce latency, but because of how UDP / DNS works, if you lose a packet, the latency for DNS lookups goes up by a heck of a lot compared to if you don't. First it has to time out, then it has to try another DNS server. In the meantime, your site doesn't load. The anycast dns helps with latency, and presumably, because there are fewer hops to lose your data, less packet loss. In many cases, where a site seems to just hang and hang, or you have to retry loading it, it was a DNS issue. That's an easy way to lose a visitor. For $50 / year, it's a cheap solution to that problem.

    The biggest reason I switched to using it though is so that I don't have to be responsible for maintaining reliable dns infrastructure. I've had a few cases where dns failures brought down entire clusters of servers hosting high traffic sites. In one or two cases, I thought I had redundancy that I didn't, where I thought I had multiple servers serving out DNS, but it turned out that only one of them had been working properly the whole time, and when that server's dns failed, the whole show stopped.

    In another case, I had multiple servers serving dns (correctly this time), but my hosting provider had one of their internal network segments go down. All the DNS servers were in that one segment of my host's network, but only about half my web servers were in that segment. Had I been hosting external DNS, I would have been able to service at least half of my visitors, because they would be accessing the servers on the working network segment. Because my DNS failed, nobody could access the site.

    Both of these failures were a serious pain to troubleshoot and correct, and my sites had serious issues for most of the day in each case. For $50 / year, that's cheap insurance. Even the time it takes to troubleshoot a problem like this, and the headache of it, is worth avoiding these issues entirely, even aside from the performance improvements. When you factor in the money you could lose by having your DNS servers be down, it's even more of a no brainer.
    To me it seems like the main point is having a reliable DNS solution, I don't really see what complete geographic distribution has to do with that. I am all for reliable and redundant external DNS solutions, and we pay extra for that ourselves, but the geographic distribution part, I don't care about and don't think that part does much of anything. We use DNSMadeEasy, and I don't care what their geographic distribution is, it is reliable. I'm not going to pick one DNS provider over another based on geographic distribution, I'm going to pick them on reliability.

    External DNS is great, I love it. Spending more to add complete geographic redundancy is a waste of money, imho. The value is in having a redundant and reliable DNS delivery solution.
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  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by KarlZimmer View Post
    To me it seems like the main point is having a reliable DNS solution, I don't really see what complete geographic distribution has to do with that. I am all for reliable and redundant external DNS solutions, and we pay extra for that ourselves, but the geographic distribution part, I don't care about and don't think that part does much of anything. We use DNSMadeEasy, and I don't care what their geographic distribution is, it is reliable. I'm not going to pick one DNS provider over another based on geographic distribution, I'm going to pick them on reliability.

    External DNS is great, I love it. Spending more to add complete geographic redundancy is a waste of money, imho. The value is in having a redundant and reliable DNS delivery solution.
    I can agree with you there. I feel that the geographic distribution and anycast is a great perk to improve performance. It's kind of hard to have total reliability without having the DNS servers hosted at multiple locations, so you may as well take the extra performance you get from that while you're at it. But certainly the reliability is what makes it worth the money.
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by funkywizard View Post
    I can agree with you there. I feel that the geographic distribution and anycast is a great perk to improve performance. It's kind of hard to have total reliability without having the DNS servers hosted at multiple locations, so you may as well take the extra performance you get from that while you're at it. But certainly the reliability is what makes it worth the money.
    I wouldn't really group those together, an Anycast DNS provider and GeoDNS, but if you do, I also agree with everything you've said.

    I would consider anycast/redundant DNS to be different from GeoDNS. The first is basically the standard way to do it, you have maybe 2-4 sites with the DNS and anycast that specifically for reliability. For me, GeoDNS would be focused on having say 20 sites all around the globe, specifically for reduced latency. To me, going from the 2-4 up to the 20 or so really doesn't make much sense in most cases and often carries a significant premium. I guess if you find the 2nd at not much more, go for it.
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  34. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by KarlZimmer View Post
    I wouldn't really group those together, an Anycast DNS provider and GeoDNS, but if you do, I also agree with everything you've said.

    I would consider anycast/redundant DNS to be different from GeoDNS. The first is basically the standard way to do it, you have maybe 2-4 sites with the DNS and anycast that specifically for reliability. For me, GeoDNS would be focused on having say 20 sites all around the globe, specifically for reduced latency. To me, going from the 2-4 up to the 20 or so really doesn't make much sense in most cases and often carries a significant premium. I guess if you find the 2nd at not much more, go for it.
    I think there's definitely some misunderstanding in terminology here. Maybe I'm thinking about it wrong, but I was using the term GeoDNS interchangably with geographically dispersed anycast dns. If that's an error in general, or if my interpretation doesn't match what the OP was talking about, then that would account for the miscommunication here.
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  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by funkywizard View Post
    I think there's definitely some misunderstanding in terminology here. Maybe I'm thinking about it wrong, but I was using the term GeoDNS interchangably with geographically dispersed anycast dns. If that's an error in general, or if my interpretation doesn't match what the OP was talking about, then that would account for the miscommunication here.
    I don't know if you're wrong or I'm wrong, that was how I had defined things to myself, and I'm sure everyone's marketing, etc. confuses it even further, sort of like where you actually draw the line between a VPS and cloud. :-)

    I think:
    Anycast DNS = Focus on Reliability
    GeoDNS = Focus on Global Distribution for Uniformly Low Latency
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  36. #36
    Anycast actually can be used for lower latency as well. It's a way to encourage dns requests to reach a local dns server instead of one that's far away. My understanding is that is one of the key reasons for using it instead of just having multiple dns servers in multiple locations on different ip addresses.
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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by funkywizard View Post
    Anycast actually can be used for lower latency as well. It's a way to encourage dns requests to reach a local dns server instead of one that's far away. My understanding is that is one of the key reasons for using it instead of just having multiple dns servers in multiple locations on different ip addresses.
    It certainly can be, but unless used specifically for reducing latency it can also increase latency. It will simply use BGP for finding the closest spot, and that will be based primarily on AS hops, not based on the actual distance or latency. Anycast is just more resilient as it depends on the routing standards that the traffic is already using anyway, nothing else.
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  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by KarlZimmer View Post
    I think:
    Anycast DNS = Focus on Reliability
    GeoDNS = Focus on Global Distribution for Uniformly Low Latency
    Karl, did you know that your DNSMadeEasy account has both now?

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by plumsauce View Post
    That is a very important point that many people overlook in their push for global performance when considering geodns.

    Most areas of the world can achiever a round trip time to an authoritative name server in less than 250ms. There are exceptions such as Shanghai where the RTT can be quite long.

    The authoritative answer that is returned to the users' caching dns server is then, well ... cached.

    Until the record expires, all users of that isp will get their answers from cache. The RTT, ignoring the slower network to the end user, is usually sub 20ms.

    And, an individual user's machine will again cache until the TTL expires or a connection fails.

    Thus, for a user *session* which may involve multiple retrievals, the dns lookup time is one RTT, and that RTT is amortised over the entire session.

    The unlucky first user to hit an empty cache might see a worst case RTT of 500ms if he is really far away.
    From the end user perspective it is important to note ISP usually distribute traffic to cache name servers using a simple algorithm such as round robin. The result of this is that each machine maintains its own independent cache. If each incoming query is distributed to a random machine, depending on the nature of the traffic, the effective cache miss rate can be increased proportionally. Depending on TTL and network proximity of the authoritative and cache name servers the user experience may be affected several times during a *session*

    BTW this is how Google Public DNS resolver service works:

    One pool of machines shares a small global cache containing the most popular names; these machines are load balanced without any affinity or stickiness. If a query cannot be satisfied from this cache, it is sent to another pool of machines that divide up the cache by (less popular) names. All queries for the same name are sent to the same machine, where the name is either cached or it isn't.
    more here: http://code.google.com/speed/public-...rformance.html
    Last edited by dotHostel; 07-20-2011 at 10:11 AM.
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  40. #40

    Exclamation GeoDNS has many uses!

    I do not agree with some people who have mentioned that balancing on "service level" is better rather that at GeoDNS level. I think it depends on the service. For web services it is easy to redirect to a subdomain - but what about mail services (for example)?

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