Amazon doesn’t eat its own DNS dogfood

User questions if Route 53 is good enough for Amazon

Amazon.com uses domain name systems (DNS) from competitors instead of its own Amazon Web Services' DNS named Route 53, according to a DNS tracking service.  

For tech companies, using your own products and services is called “eating your own dog food,” or some call it “drinking your own champagne.” Amazon does not do that, at least for its DNS.

The issue was recently raised on Twitter and was discussed on AWS forums more than a year ago. An AWS spokesperson declined to comment publicly on the issue.

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According to a search on the website Kloth.net, which provides DNS lookups, Amazon.com uses Dyn and UltraDNS to host Amazon.com, two name-brand DNS services. Route 53 is Amazon Web Service’s DNS that is used frequently to connect incoming traffic to websites hosted on AWS.

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Last year users in an AWS forum questioned why Amazon.com does not us Route 53. An AWS employee initially said he could not discuss the details of the internal network configurations within AWS. When the questioner asked if Route 53 is a viable platform and what deficiencies or lack of important features have caused Amazon to not use Route 53, an AWS employee provided a slightly more detailed response.

“This is a totally fair question and concern,” the AWS employee Ben@AWS wrote. “We believe Route 53 compares well against other leading DNS providers in terms of scalability, responsiveness, and fault tolerance.” At the time, he said Amazon was migrating DNS zones to Route 53 and said some Amazon services currently did use Route 53, including Elastic Beanstalk and Alexa.com (which is an Amazon company). He added that there are customers with comparable DNS load to Amazon.com that use Route 53, but he did not name them.

There could be a legitimate reason for Amazon not to use Route 53 though. One Twitter user came to AWS’s defense: “Always a good idea to separate your DNS from your infrastructure,” user Tim Nash wrote, noting that if Route 53 had an outage, it could bring down AWS and Amazon.com, potentially preventing the ecommerce site from working and preventing AWS from alerting customers of the downtime. So perhaps spreading DNS workloads out across multiple providers is a good idea. But, Kloth.net does not show Amazon using Route 53 at all.

Shawn Campbell, a DNS expert and systems administrator for Canadian tech reseller Scalar Decisions said he was surprised to learn that Amazon.com doesn’t use Route 53. He said UltraDNS is a leader in the DNS market and he described Route 53 as a competing, up-and-coming platform compared to other more established offerings. He said typically Route 53 is a good option for customers who have many other services hosted in AWS, so he questions how much Amazon.com is using AWS overall.

On the AWS Case Studies page there is only one mention of Amazon.com using AWS, which is the example of how Amazon.com migrated the tape backup of its Oracle databases to AWS Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). While that’s not an exhaustive list, it is the only public example AWS cites of Amazon using its own cloud service.

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