This is a followup from last month's DNS marketshare post. In this post we use the same top 10,000 Alexa websites from last month (based on a 10 Mar 2013 Alexa snapshot). We then mined the DNS servers for each of these websites again using the same technique. The tables below represent the changes in marketshare and DNS hosting occurring during this time period (about 30 days).
New to this post is marketshare analysis for 2012 US Fortune 500 companies. This is a list published annually by Fortune Magazine ranking public US companies by gross revenue. For this analysis, we used the corporate websites listed for these companies on the CNN.com website. This marketshare analysis shows a very different provider makeup relative to top Alexa websites.
Every few months we mine the DNS servers used by the top 10,000 Alexa sites. We then use various techniques including hostname and IP class C matching, and DNS lookup validations to correlate the DNS servers with specific DNS services like UltraDNS, Dyn and AWS Route 53. We call this point-in-time analysis a DNS marketshare snapshot. Finally we compare current and prior DNS marketshare snapshots to identify market trends and changes.
Steady DNS Outsourcing Trend
Outsourcing of DNS hosting to managed providers has grown consistently for Alexa 10,000 sites since we began capturing marketshare snapshots last year. Our analysis shows an increase of 6% in the past 4 months, and 15% in the past 11 months. Such growth appears to be favoring some services over others, with many even loosing marketshare. The following table provides a summary of managed DNS marketshare changes for the past 11 months. Only services with greater than 1% marketshare are displayed. The table is sorted by current Alexa 10,000 marketshare.
DNS Service Marketshare Change: Apr 2012 - Mar 2013
Alexa 1,000 Marketshare Change
Alexa 10,000 Marketshare Change
5.1% to 7.1%
2.72% to 3.91%
5.7% to 6.2%
3.73% to 3.7%
AWS Route 53
1.8% to 3.8%
1.68% to 3.56%
2.6% to 2.2%
3.4% to 3.1%
1.5% to 1.3%
2.89% to 2.89%
0.3% to 0.6%
0.92% to 2.56%
DNS Made Easy
2% to 2.1%
2.47% to 2.43%
4.2% to 4.7%
1.84% to 2.06%
Rackspace Cloud DNS
1.3% to 0.7%
1.48% to 1.61%
0.7% to 1%
0.7% to 0.97%
0.6% to 1%
0.82% to 0.79%
Cotendo (acquired by Akamai)
2.1% to 1.2%
0.76% to 0.6%
Alexa Top 1,000 DNS Marketshare - Mar 5, 2013
The following table provides current marketshare analysis for the top 1,000 Alexa website based on a snapshot taken on March 5, 2013.
Number of Sites
Marketshare Change Nov 2012 to Mar 2013
Market Share %
AWS Route 53
DNS Made Easy
Alexa Top 10,000 DNS Marketshare - Mar 5, 2013
The following table provides current marketshare analysis for the top 10,000 Alexa website based on a snapshot taken on March 5, 2013.
This blog post is the culmination of year's effort researching and developing methods for analyzing and comparing managed DNS services. During this time, we provided access to our analysis and solicited feedback from any DNS provider that would listen. We would like to thank our contacts with UltraDNS, Cotendo, Amazon Web Services and NetDNA for the feedback they provided. As always, it is our intent to provide objective, fair and actionable analysis. We have not been paid by anyone to conduct this testing or write this post. If you have feedback, we'd like to hear it.
This blog post is also intended as an introduction to a new monthly report entitled State of the Cloud - DNSavailable for purchase on our website. The full version of the August 2012 edition of this report is available for free in pdf format (10MB). Future editions of this report will include both free and premium editions where the free version will include everything but some of the more advanced content such as marketshare analysis. This blog post provides an introduction to and summary of the August 2012 edition of this report.
Domain Name System or DNS for short, is the part of the Internet that lets users access websites (and other Internet services) using easy to remember words and phrases called hostnames like amazon.com or google.com. Without DNS, users would be required to use cryptic numeric-based identifiers called IP addresses (e.g. 22.214.171.124). When a user types a hostname into their browser address bar, one of the first steps undergone is to translate the hostname to an IP address. This translation process involves querying a DNS server that has been assigned responsibility for that hostname. These are called authoritative DNS servers. If the authoritative DNS server is not accessible, the browser will be unable to resolve the IP address and display the website.
DNS server software is freely available and is not overly complex to setup or run. The core functionality of a DNS server is simple… the translation of hostnames to IP addresses. It requires only minimal bandwidth and CPU resources to maintain a DNS server. Many organizations host their own DNS servers without much effort.
Managed DNS is a service that allows organizations to outsource DNS to a third party provider. There many reasons why an organization may elect to outsource DNS hosting... here are a few:
Simplicity Organizations don't have to worry about setting up and maintaining their own DNS servers. Management of DNS records is also easier because providers enable this using a simple browser-based GUI or API
Performance Providers that specialize in DNS have often invested significant time and capital setting up global networks of servers that can respond quickly to DNS queries regardless of a user's location
Availability Managed DNS providers employ dedicated staff to monitor and maintain highly available DNS services and are often better equipped to handle service anomalies like DDOS attacks
Advanced Features Managed DNS providers often offer features that are not part of the standard DNS stack such as integrated monitoring and failover and geographic load balancing
Whatever the reasons are, managed DNS is a fast growing sector in the cloud.
Enterprise versus Self Service
Managed DNS providers can be generally divided into two categories:
Enterprise providers typically offer more advanced features, personalized support and account management, and often have larger DNS server networks. These providers typically utilize a formal sales and contract negotiation process for new customers where pricing is variable depending on the customer's negotiating prowess, usage volume and term commitment. Pricing is typically orders of magnitude higher than self service providers. Some enterprise providers offer low volume, low cost introductory packages that are lead-ins to their standard service offerings
Self Service providers typically offer simple, contract free, self management DNS services. Pricing is often catered more towards smaller organizations with limited budgets. Self service providers usually (but not always) have smaller DNS server networks and offer fewer advanced features. Based on our analysis, these services are generally as reliable as enterprise services
After speaking with multiple enterprise providers, it is our impression that they generally consider self service providers as non-competitors targeting a different customer demographic.
Comparing Managed DNS Services
Comparing DNS services is not as simple as running a few benchmarks and calling it good. There are multiple criteria where comparisons may be drawn. In this post, we'll present some criteria we believe to be relevant, the techniques we have used to implement them, and the resulting analysis. The following DNS providers are included:
Neustar UltraDNS is one of the oldest managed DNS providers founded in 1999. Their network includes 16 DNS POPs (points of presence) on 6 continents. UltraDNS is a leading provider in marketshare with 403 of the Alexa top 10,000 sites according to our recent analysis
Dyn has evolved over the years from offering various free DNS services to its current form as an enterprise DNS provider. Although they still support a self service DNS under the DynDNS brand, our analysis includes only their enterprise service. The Dyn network consists of 17 DNS POPs in 4 continents. Dyn's enterprise service is slightly behind UltraDNS in marketshare with 319 of the Alexa top 10,000 sites according to our analysis.
Cotendo/Akamai Cotendo was acquired by Akamai in 2012. The Cotendo DNS network consists of 29 DNS POPs in 5 continents. Combining Akamai and Cotendo DNS makes them the leading provider in marketshare for Alexa top 1,000 sites according to our analysis. Akamai's DNS service, Enhanced DNS currently utilizes different DNS infrastructure from Cotendo and is presented separately in this post
AWS Route 53 is part of the Amazon Web Services suite of cloud services. It launched in 2011 and is the newest service included in this post. Route 53 uses a self-service, low cost model. The DNS network consists of 33 DNS POPs in 5 continents. Route 53 marketshare has grown significantly in 2012 according to our analysis. It currently lacks many of the more advanced features offered by enterprise providers including DNSSEC and integrated monitoring
easyDNS is a smaller, self-service provider founded in 1998. Their network consists of of 16 DNS POPs in 3 continents
DNS Made Easy is another smaller, self-service DNS provider founded in 2002. Their network consists of 12 DNS POPs in 3 continents
Many are skeptical of claims that involve benchmarks. Over the years benchmarks have been manipulated and misrepresented. Benchmarks aren't inherently bad or created in bad faith. To the contrary, when understood and applied correctly, benchmarks can often provide useful insight for performance analysis and capacity planning. The problem with benchmarks is they are often misunderstood or misrepresented, frequently resulting in bold assertions and questionable claims. Oftentimes there are also extraneous factors involved such as agenda-driven marketing organizations. In fact, the term "benchmarketing" was coined to describe questionable marketing-driven, benchmark-based claims.
This post will discuss a few questions one might consider when reading benchmark-based claims. We'll then apply these questions to 2 recent cloud related, benchmark-based studies.
Questions to consider
The following are 7 questions one might ask when considering benchmark-based claims. Answering these questions will help to provide a clearer understanding on the validity and applicability of the claims.
What is the claim? Typically the bold-face, attention grabbing headline like Service Y is 10X faster than Service Z
What is the claimed measurement? Usually implied by the headline. For example the claim Service Y is 10X faster than Service Z implies a measurement of system performance
What is the actual measurement? To answer this question, look at the methodology and benchmark(s) used. This may require some digging, but can usually be found somewhere in the article body. Once found, do some research to determine what was actually measured. For example, if Geekbench was used, you would discover the actual measurement is processor and memory performance, but not disk or network IO
Is it an apples-to-apples comparison? The validity of a benchmark-based claim ultimately depends on the fairness of the testing methodology. Claims involving comparisons should compare similar things. For example, Ford could compare a Mustang Shelby GT500 (top speed 190 MPH) to a Chevy Aveo (top speed 100 MPH) and claim their cars are nearly twice as fast, but the Aveo is not a comparable vehicle and therefore the claim would be invalid. A more fair, apples-to-apples comparison would be a Mustang GT500 and a Chevy Camaro ZL1 (top speed 186).
Is the playing field level? Another important question to ask is whether or not there are any extraneous factors that provided an unfair advantage to one test subject over another. For example, using the top speed analogy, Ford could compare a Mustang with 92 octane fuel and a downhill course to a Camaro with 85 octane fuel and an uphill course. Because there are extraneous factors (fuel and angle of the course) which provided an unfair advantage to the Mustang, the claim would be invalid. To be fair, the top speeds of both vehicles should be measured on the same course, with the same fuel, fuel quantity, driver and weather conditions.
Was the data reported accurately? Benchmarking often results in large datasets. Summarizing the data concisely and accurately can be challenging. Things to watch out for include lack of good statistical analysis (i.e. reporting average only), math errors, and sloppy calculations. For example, if large, highly variable data is collected, it is generally a best practice to report the median value in place of mean (average) to mitigate the effects of outliers. Standard deviation is also a useful metric to include to identify data consistency.
Does it matter to you? The final question to ask is, assuming the results are valid, does it actually mean anything to you? For example, purchasing a vehicle based on a top speed comparison is not advisable if fuel economy is what really matters to you.