Why DNS is sexy again

DNS has evolved beyond mere infrastructure. Now it’s a business enabler which touches every part of the enterprise and every business initiative.

Last updated on April 29, 2021.

Over the course of my two years at BlueCat, I’ve witnessed a significant change in how network administrators and CIOs think about DNS.  

When I started, DNS was just plumbing.  Infrastructure.  It was boring.  Entry-level staff used DNS, DHCP, and IPAM to administer their network architecture.  DNS pointed people to the right addresses.  IPAM managed a company’s IP space.  Once this system was set up, DNS would just coast.  No one would think twice about it.  It just worked.

What a difference a few years makes.

From infrastructure to business enabler

Now a number of forces are changing the perception of DNS as boring old infrastructure.  Think about what’s driving innovation and expanded value in IT today.  Cloud, cybersecurity, automation, SD-WAN, DevOps, virtualization – these large-scale initiatives are no longer “nice to have” or mere buzzwords.  Businesses now depend on these things to produce business outcomes, create competitive advantages, and deliver customer loyalty. 

All of today’s major IT initiatives seem to have one thing in common:  they depend on a solid core of network infrastructure and services.  Without a flexible, automation-friendly network infrastructure, DevOps can’t get off the ground.  Without a way to centrally manage information pathways, cloud gets stuck.  If you can’t see what’s going on within your network, cybersecurity is a mirage.

Bringing sexy back

This is why DNS is suddenly sexy.  Or at least, sexier.  Organizations of all kinds are starting to realize that when DNS is a bottleneck, higher-level initiatives languish.  Development teams can’t wait for a network admin to assign IP space if they’re going to deliver results quickly.  A tangled web of internal and external resolution paths in the cloud can’t provide the cost-effective results the CIO needs.  Software defined networking can only define so much if the underlying DNS infrastructure is stuck in the Stone Age.

Plenty of network administrators and CIOs jump on the DNS bandwagon late in the game.  Sometimes we only see urgency when business-defining IT initiatives are on the ropes.  But this too is starting to change.  We’re starting to see more organizations thinking about their DNS before they get in trouble – at the beginning of the process rather than as a tacked-on solution.  That’s a good thing.

DNS as a service

It’s time to think differently about DNS.  Don’t get me wrong:  DNS is still network infrastructure.  It still has to “just work”.  But how it works, how it delivers value, is changing rapidly. 

Today’s DNS isn’t just background infrastructure.  It’s a service – one with a rapidly growing customer base.  Simple resolution of queries is now just the tip of the iceberg.  DNS has to deliver coordinated, automated, integrated information to every application and device on the network.  It has a strong role to play in securing the network as well, leveraging the goldmine of data which passes through it every day.

DNS has a key role in delivering value, and that’s why innovative organizations are starting to take it seriously.  They’re developing self-service, automated IP provisioning to reduce development timelines.  They’re rationalizing DNS pathways in the cloud to save money and increase performance.  They spot emerging threats by paying attention to what devices are doing underneath the network firewall.

DNS admins, long dismissed as handling the most basic tasks, are now sitting in the sweetest part of the network.  DNS is driving some of the most critical business initiatives, and enabling organizations to succeed.

During one of my recent on-site discussions with a customer, I noticed something compelling which illustrated all of this so completely.  My friend, a DNS administrator, had a sticker that said “DNS is my DNA”.  That really sums it up for me.  

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