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Free DNS: Too good to be true?

OpenDNS, NeuStar give away services, but buyers worry there's a catch

By , Network World
February 05, 2008 12:43 PM ET

Page 3 of 3

NeuStar says it has more DNS servers deployed around the globe than OpenDNS and a more robust DNS infrastructure to support its paid services.

"We have 20 publicly available DNS servers around the world, as well as locations inside the networks run by AOL, Comcast, Yahoo and AT&T," says Ben Petro, senior vice president of NeuStar Ultra Services. "Our DNS servers are in Equinix locations, with quad Gig Ethernet capabilities and multiple service providers. We have no single point of failure."

NeuStar is using the same DNS infrastructure for its free recursive DNS service that it uses for managed external DNS services provided to, and others.

 "Seventeen of the top 20 e-commerce sites are on our managed service," Petro says. "They pay thousands of dollars a month for this service." (See a list of NueStar Ultra customers here.)

NeuStar admits that it isn't offering free recursive DNS services as a charity case. The company says the knowledge it will gain about DNS usage trends by offering recursive DNS will help improve the quality of its managed external DNS services, which are highly profitable.

"Let's assume has a failure within their time-to-live window. That's the window of time they set to change their DNS records. There's nothing they can do. They have to wait for the time-to-live window to expire. But if we manage their external DNS service, we can change their time-to-live window wherever we provide recursive DNS services," Petro explains. "The more recursive DNS services we provide, the faster and more reliable our other managed DNS services become…Offering recursive DNS services helps our traffic management and load balancing tools, too."

Petro says its free DNS Advantage service is faster, more reliable and more secure than what ISPs offer. The service includes Web filtering, typo re-direction and protection against distributed denial-of-service attacks.

"It's not a gift," Petro says. "It's something that absolutely enables us to improve our managed services. Our [external DNS] customers will pay more if our services are highly tunable all the way down to the recursive level."

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

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