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Amazon Route 53, a DNS Server in the Cloud

by Abel Avram on Dec 06, 2010 |

Amazon is offering a new cloud service called Route 53 providing all the functionality needed to run a DNS server in their cloud without any maintenance overhead and using the pay-as-you-go model common to all AWS services.

Route 53 is a new Amazon Web Service for managing DNS names and answering DNS queries. The service provides the functionality of a DNS authoritative server running inside Amazon’s cloud and being accessed through a REST API. The API allows an user to create and manage zones and  to populate them with DNS records. When a zone is created, the service also creates 4 name servers answering queries for the domains defined for the respective zone. Route 53 can be used to serve domains running inside Amazon’s cloud, on-premises or a combination of these.

Amazon attempts to offer a high-availability and low-latency DNS service by providing 9 locations in various states over US, 4 in Europe, and 3 in Asia. Route 53 routes any DSN request to the closest server in order to provide the fastest response. Amazon also promises to provide enough transparent scalability as necessary in order to serve all the DNS queries.

One of the main problems with DNS servers is sometimes the slow propagation of changes. Without specifying how fast Route 53 does the updates, Werner Vogels, CTO at Amazon, mentioned that “We have designed Route 53 to propagate updates very quickly and give the customer the tools to find out when all changes have been propagated.”

The pay-as-you-go model used for other AWS services is also used for Route 53. The fees are applied per zone and per number of queries, Amazon taking care of the infrastructure and administration needed to run the service:

  • 1$/zone/month
  • $0.50/1 million queries – first 1 Billion queries / month
    $0.25/1 million queries – over 1 Billion queries / month

The service allows the creation of 100 hosted zones. More zones can be created after contacting Amazon. The name Route 53 comes from the port UDP 53 used by DNS servers to receive and respond to queries. 

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