Many different services are involved in getting a site from the machines that serve it to the browsers of its users. Among them are domain name registrars, DNS hosting, web hosting, content distribution networks, and the networking infrastructure that underlies them all.
It’s common among IT professionals to advise that at least some of these services are distributed among different providers. For example, a site’s hosting provider should not be the same as the registrar that they bought their domain name from. The reasons for this are straightforward: occasionally companies fail (especially low-price domain name registrars and web hosts) and each company may have different strengths. Separating the domain name registrar from the hosting provider ensures that the risks and benefits are spread across different companies, rather than concentrated in one.
Separating out the the elements involved in site hosting allows administrators to make informed decisions about the relative strengths of the providers of each. The best web hosting company is unlikely to be the company that offers the best available DNS hosting. The most reliable domain name registrars do not always have the most robust web hosting services.
The arguments in favor of IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) have been well-rehearsed in recent years. The flexibility, agility, and low initial investment costs that cloud-based infrastructure brings to startups and businesses of all sizes are universally acknowledged. However, the benefits of managed DNS hosting have tended to be drowned out by the prominence of infrastructure as a service stars like virtualized computing instances and cloud storage. This is unfortunate, because many businesses, small and large, could benefit from managed DNS hosting.
When deciding on infrastructure provisioning for a business, Domain Name Services should have the same importance as aspects like storage and web hosting, because the domain name system is the crucial connection between users and a business. The benefits of having sites and applications running on optimized and powerful infrastructure can be severely degraded if they are served by an inadequate, latency-causing, and down-time prone domain name service.
Downtime for revenue generating sites almost always means lost income. E-Commerce stores, especially those with international clients, depend on constant uptime. Sites that rely on advertising revenue aren’t going to be generating ad clicks and impressions if users can’t access the content. For essential business operation services, huge costs can be incurred in man-hours and lost time if servers aren’t accessible.
It’s been estimated that downtime can cost the average business $138,888 per year, but many of the costs of downtime are not so obvious as lost sales or advertising revenue. Downtime for web services can sometimes necessitate payouts to disgruntled clients who pay to be able to access those services when they need to.
Imagine how different the world would be if the foundational technologies of the Internet had been anything other than open and standards-based. What if DNS, TCP/IP, email, and HTML had been proprietary technologies under the control of one vendor.
It’s safe to say that the web and the world would be vastly different — socially, technologically, and economically unrecognizable. The value of open technologies with standards behind them is that any innovator can try their hand at building something on top of that tech. Those innovators then create value for their users and customers, but, more importantly, they add additional value back into the system.
As ICANN prepares to begin recommending new TLDs for delegation next month, big tech companies like Amazon and Google are ramping up the war of words.
Top-level domains are the final part of the domain name section of the URL. They are tightly controlled by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the regulating authority that determines which TLDs are available for use within the Domain Name System.
Until recently, TLDs have been limited to country codes, and generic names like ‘.com’, and a few special cases like ‘.mobi’, but, in a strategy to raise revenue, ICANN began to allow interested individuals to apply for specific TLDs of their choice. So, for example, Google might — and in fact has — applied to ICANN for the creation and assignment of the ‘.gmail’ TLD among others.