The Men & Mice Blog

Secure Your DNS Across Multiple DNS Service Platforms with Men & Mice xDNS Redundancy

Posted by Men & Mice on 7/10/17 12:50 PM

DNS (Domain Name System) is the most critical aspect of any network’s availability. When DNS services are halted, or slowed down significantly, networks become inaccessible, leading to damaging losses in revenue and reputation for enterprises.

To ensure optimal network availability, many enterprises depend on top-tier managed DNS service providers for their external DNS needs. The basic “table stakes” characteristics of an enterprise-class managed DNS service are high reliability, high availability, high performance and traffic management. However, even the most robust DNS infrastructure is not immune to outages.

Outages may be localized, in which only certain DNS servers in the network are not responding, or, less commonly, system-wide. A system-wide DNS failure can take an entire business offline - the equivalent of power failure in every one of their data centers.

To prevent this, top-tier managed DNS systems have a great deal of built-in redundancy and fault tolerance, yet the danger of a single point of failure remains for enterprises that rely solely on a single-source DNS service.

If no system of DNS is failure proof, this begs the question: what should an enterprise do about it?

Using multiple DNS service providers for ultimate DNS redundancy

DNS availability statistics for managed DNS providers shows that the industry norm exceeds 5 nines (99.999%) uptime. This is the equivalent of about 5 minutes per year downtime. However, this top line number does not provide any detail on the impact of degraded performance, or the cascading effect of a system-wide outage of various duration, on individual enterprises.

To discover the true impact of a potential loss of DNS availability, enterprises need to properly assess the business risk associated with relying on a sole source provider, and compare that with the cost of a second source DNS service. What would a 30-minute loss of DNS cost the business in terms of revenue loss, reputation damage, support costs and recovery? What does it cost to maintain a second source DNS service?

Research amongst enterprises for whom online services are mission critical generally concludes that the cost ratios are in the range of 10:1 – one order of magnitude. Put another way, the cost of one outage is roughly estimated to be ten times the annual cost of a maintaining a second service. A business would have to have second source DNS for ten years to equal the cost of one major DNS outage.

Looking at the odds and costs of outages, many enterprises are opting to bring in a second, or even a third, DNS service to hold copies of critical DNS master zones.

This system of external DNS redundancy boosts DNS availability by:

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1. removing the danger of exposure to a single point of DNS failure.

2. reducing traditional master-slave DNS redundancy vulnerabilities, where slave zones can’t be changed if the master becomes unavailable.

3. improving infrastructure resilience by hosting critical zones with multiple providers, ensuring continued service availability and updates of changes if one DNS service provider becomes unavailable.

The risky business of maintaining DNS redundancy across platforms

In theory, DNS redundancy across multiple DNS service provider platforms should be the best solution for optimal DNS high reliability, high availability and high performance. In practice, however, the complexity of tasks and scope for error involved in replicating and maintaining identical DNS zones on multiple platforms pose additional threats to DNS availability. The situation is made worse by:

  • A lack of centralized views
  • A lack of workflow automation
  • The difficulty of coordinating multiple platform APIs

This inability to view, synchronize and update identical zones’ data simultaneously can, in itself, lead to errors and conflicts in DNS configuration and result in a degradation of network performance, or even a network outage – the very events that multi-provider DNS redundancy is intended to prevent.

Protect your DNS on multiple platforms with Men & Mice xDNS Redundancy

Breaking new ground in the battle against DNS disruption, the Men & Mice xDNS Redundancy feature provides the abstraction level necessary to replicate and synchronize critical DNS master zones across multiple DNS service provider platforms, on-premises, in the cloud, or in hybrid or multi-cloud environments.

Men & Mice xDNS provides a unified view and centralized management of DNS data, regardless of the DNS service provider platform. Network administrators and other authorized users can use xDNS to perform necessary updates to their network’s DNS, as well as benefit from building automation with the powerful Men & Mice API, instead of having to dig around in different DNS platforms and deal with coordinating conflicting APIs. DNS-redundancy-and-Men-and-mice-suite.png

Combined with the flexibility of building automation on top of the Men & Mice Suite, xDNS offers you the freedom to better distribute your DNS load based on zone priority, performance requirements and accompanying costs. With xDNS, you are better equipped to steer the tiered price points of externally hosting, for example, critical high-performance or less essential low-performance zones, and utilize the DNS service best suited to your situation at a given time.

 


How xDNS Redundancy Works

Using the Men & Mice xDNS feature, create a zone redundancy group by selecting critical zones from DNS servers and services such as BIND, Windows DNS, Azure DNS, Amazon Route 53, NS1, Dyn and Akamai Fast DNS.

Once an xDNS zone redundancy group has been created, xDNS assists the administrator in creating identically replicated zone content, resulting in multiple identical master zones. Additional zones can be added or removed from the xDNS group as required.

All changes initiated by the user through Men & Mice, both the UI and API, will be applied to all zone instances in the group. All changes made externally to zones existing in the xDNS group, will be synchronized to all zones in that particular xDNS group. However, if DNS record conflicts arise, xDNS will alert the user and provide an option on how to resolve conflicts before the group is re-synchronized.

If an xDNS zone is not available for updating, for instance if one DNS service provider experiences an outage, that zone will be marked as out-of-sync. Once the zone becomes available again, it will be automatically re-synchronized and will receive all updates that were made while the DNS service was unavailable.

Men & Mice and NS1

NS1, the leading intelligent DNS and traffic management provider, recognizes the growing need for diverse application resiliency. NS1 has joined forces with Men & Mice in improving the efficacy of external DNS redundancy. Kris Beevers, Co-founder and CEO, says:

"Leveraging multiple managed DNS networks is the clear best practice for maintaining 100% uptime in today's rapidly evolving operational environment.  Configuring and operating multiple managed DNS services can be a complex, time-consuming process.  NS1 is excited to partner with Men & Mice to help enterprises minimize management overhead and seamlessly enable redundant DNS. xDNS Redundancy is well-suited to enable multi-network DNS without the usual headaches."

Men & Mice xDNS – making external DNS redundancy truly resilient

DNS redundancy is a great concept on paper, but a daunting challenge in practice. With xDNS, enterprises can seek out second, or even third source DNS services, confident in the knowledge that their DNS, and ultimately their business, will truly be safer that way.

Magnus Bjornsson, Men & Mice CEO, considers xDNS an important step towards providing enterprises with greater, and more reliable, network availability.
“Recent prominent network outages once again illustrate the critical importance of building more effective network resiliency through a powerful and secure system of DNS redundancy. Men & Mice xDNS provides a simple way for companies to manage their DNS on multiple external platforms, with the Men & Mice Suite software automatically taking care of the replication and synchronization of data in a reliable and consistent manner. We are looking forward to cooperating with NS1 on developing xDNS and extending DNS redundancy offerings.”

Men & Mice xDNS takes the ‘daunt’ out of maintaining external DNS redundancy, providing the centralized views and control necessary to reduce the risk of network exposure to a single point of failure, improve network reliability and performance and bolster the successful mitigation of DDoS attacks and other potentially harmful DNS incidents.

To learn more about xDNS Redundancy, check out the xDNS webinar, jointly presented by Men & Mice and NS1.

Check out the video to discover how it DDI all comes together:

Or try it out in the Men & Mice Suite:

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Topics: DNS, Security, High availability, DNS redundancy, DDoS, External DNS, Failover

Men & Mice Breaks New DDI Ground with xDNS Redundancy and Multi-Cloud IPAM

Posted by Men & Mice on 6/29/17 1:30 PM

The joke goes: “How did God create the universe in seven days? No legacy infrastructure.”

Funny (or not) as that may be, how to make the most of legacy infrastructure in the age of accelerating technological disruption and rapid cloud services adoption, is the harsh reality most enterprises face today.

Well-known for its fast, reliable and efficient performance on large enterprise networks, the Men & Mice Suite already has a reputation as the go-to, enterprise-class, software overlay DNS, DHCP and IP Address Management (DDI) solution. With the release of Version 8.2 of the Suite, Men & Mice further solidifies our position as the commercial DDI solution best equipped to help large enterprises capitalize on legacy infrastructure, while adopting cloud services to advance business agility and scalability.

The Men & Mice Suite – IP wherever you are 

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Almost three decades of expert innovation in DNS, DHCP and IP Address Management has given Men & Mice unique insight and expertise into creating solutions that confidently mitigate the shocks of technological disruption.

Built as an enterprise-grade, back-end agnostic solution and deployed on top of DNS and DHCP infrastructure, the Men & Mice DDI Suite pulls together critical network data from wherever it is kept, on-premises, in the cloud, hybrid cloud or multi-cloud, and turns a potential hot mess into a comprehensive overview, accessed and controlled from a single pane of glass.

The Men & Mice Suite provides consistent administrative controls on heterogeneous networks, with unparalleled support for Windows DNS and DHCP, BIND, Unbound, PowerDNS, ISC DHCP, Kea DHCP, Cisco IOS, OpenStack and Azure DNS and Amazon Route 53.

Designed to integrate seamlessly with the VMware Orchestrator framework, the Men & Mice Suite VMware vRealize Orchestrator plug-in allows for fast and efficient provisioning of virtual machines.

The first DDI solution to fully integrate with Microsoft Active Directory (AD), the Men & Mice Suite incorporates management of users and groups through AD, while granting access rights and building up roles and responsibilities through the Men & Mice Suite, ensuring advanced and secure granular role-based access management.

Offering you the flexibility to control your network as it suits you best, the Men & Mice Suite provides three powerful interfaces: the Men & Mice management console, the Men & Mice web interface, and, the strong and consistent Men & Mice API, communicating in SOAP, JSON-RPC and REST. The Men & Mice API, especially popular with our customers, provides the robust abstraction tools necessary to build and extend automation.

New in Men & Mice Suite Version 8.2

From Version 8.2, the Men & Mice Suite’s back-end agnostic capabilities are extended to include advanced, multi-cloud IP Address Management and integrated support for external DNS service providers.

Building on the flexibility of its architecture, Men & Mice Suite Version 8.2 consolidates on-premises and cloud networks in one view and point of access through support for IPAM in Azure and AWS, and by adding support for DNS service providers NS1 and Dyn to existing Men & Mice support for Azure DNS and Amazon Route 53.

Unique on the DDI market, and new in Version 8.2, the Men & Mice xDNS redundancy feature enables multi-platform DNS redundancy for ultimate network high availability, and successful mitigation of the fallout from DDoS attacks and other DNS failures.

xDNS redundancy provides the abstraction level necessary to replicate and synchronize critical DNS zones across multiple DNS service provider platforms, eliminating the possibility of a single point of failure resulting from dependency on one external DNS service provider.

Men & Mice - Changing the way the world sees networks

As IT matures into a key element for easily scalable business development and product delivery, and ultimately a driver of business growth, the need for high network availability, reliability and performance escalates.

For Magnus Bjornsson, Men & Mice CEO, delivering DDI products that boost business performance by bridging the gap between on-premises, cloud, hybrid cloud and multi-cloud network environments, is a challenge happily accepted. “We live in a world that’s getting more complicated by the minute. Cloud vendors are continuously bringing powerful new services online and enterprises are wrestling with how and when to best utilize them. Men & Mice Suite Version 8.2 is a landmark release, tackling this great challenge with innovative new features. Consolidating hybrid and multi-cloud IP Address Management in a single view and bolstering DNS availability across service provider platforms with xDNS redundancy, are great steps towards strategically improving the most critical of a company’s IT assets – its network. The Men & Mice Suite, used to run some of the largest corporate networks on the planet, is designed to give you the freedom and flexibility to use the back-end platform you want, to build the network you need.”

Looking for more?

Follow these links for more information on Men & Mice xDNS redundancy feature, or multi-cloud IP Address Management.

To see Men & Mice xDNS redundancy in action, check out the xDNS Redundancy webinar, jointly presented by Men & Mice and NS1.

Curious about how the Men & Mice Suite can benefit your network? Get in touch with one of our Men & Mice Sales Engineersor get your free Version 8.2 license for a complimentary 30-day trial experience.

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Topics: IPAM, DNS, Security, CLOUD, High availability, DNS redundancy

Keep IT outages off your network with redundant DNS

Posted by Men & Mice on 5/31/17 11:43 AM

British Airways is still reeling after a weekend IT system outage that affected more than 1,000 flights and stranded approximately 75,000 passengers at Heathrow and Gatwick airports. Some sources speculate that the compensation costs could be similar, if not considerably more than the $100 million that last year’s crippling IT failure cost Delta Airways.

Statements from British Airways blamed the IT meltdown on a power supply issue at a data center, while ruling out any possibility of a cyber attack. Though it’s far too early to speculate on exactly how a power supply problem could knock a thousand flights off schedule, one thing is certain: British Airways’ Disaster Recovery Plan failed spectacularly - where system redundancy should’ve kicked in, there was none.

British Airways’ woes serve as an unpleasant, but urgent, reminder that the way we back up our systems is sometimes even more critical than how we run it day-to-day. As it goes with life insurance or a last will and testament, there’s no point in waiting until your plane goes down (or fails to go up) before you start getting your house in order.

The most effective way of providing ‘life insurance’ for your network, is to make sure that exactly mirrored copies of critical parts, such as DNS, are replicated to other locations away from your own data centers, thereby providing system redundancy. That way, if your data centers are knocked out, due to power failure, human error or malicious cyber activity, this critical service is still active, ensuring service continuity and retaining critical operational data – and keeping your passengers happy in the air, instead of sleeping on yoga mats in conference centers.

So how do you make your DNS redundant?

In a traditional DNS setup, a DNS master-slave deployment is used to maintain network availability, with one DNS server as the single writable source, or the master (see Diagram 1). Other DNS servers, or slaves, serve as back-ups, but rely on the availability of the master for new data. If the master becomes unavailable, critical DNS zones cannot be changed, and as ‘inferior’ entities, slaves can only serve zones temporarily in absence of their master.

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(Diagram 1)

Depending exclusively on a master-slave deployment poses a significant risk to a company in the event of any DNS outage. The risk is compounded when automation has been built on top of the DNS infrastructure, as the automation piece will halt until the master has been restored, or a slave has been manually promoted to the status of master. However, manual change, especially on networks serving hundreds of thousands internal and external customers, is not only very complicated, but carries a huge potential for error. When combined with the time factor and the complexities related to siloed teams and applications, reverting to manual change can too easily lead to disaster.

DNS redundancy is the process of expanding the choice of available DNS nameservers and distributing them between separate networks - basically keeping your DNS servers replicated in a lot of places, and pointing it at a lot of places.

To further limit risk, companies are increasingly turning to storing their critical external DNS zones on-premises, as well as with more than one specialized DNS or cloud provider that possesses the security, equipment and expertise to handle large amounts of DNS traffic from a variety of sources successfully. Ideally, the most effective redundant DNS architecture will have multiple masters, each possessing the advanced functionality to act as a primary server responding to DNS queries (see Diagram 2). Keeping the multiple master DNS records up to date and in sync can prove a challenge, but one that is totally outweighed by the ultimate benefits of continuous high availability.

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(Diagram 2)

Why make your DNS redundant?

Sensible as it may seem, maintaining DNS redundancy is an IT expense that many enterprises try to avoid in order to keep operational costs down – a bit like putting off getting life insurance because it feels like such a waste to spend on the what ifs of tomorrow when all systems seem to be running just fine today. Yet these kinds of short-term savings can too easily turn into a “save a million, lose a billion” scenario, as (quite possibly) several airline bosses have recently discovered the hard way.

Keeping the running of your DNS diverse and distributed is an essential backup mechanism for any company wishing to stay connected, providing services and generating income 24/7/365.

For more information on how to manage redundant DNS complexity from one point of access, gain secure versatility and keep down unexpected expenses.

Topics: Redundant DNS, High availability

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The Men & Mice blog publishes educational, informational, as well as product-related material for everyone and anyone interested in IP Address Management, DNS, DHCP, IPv6, DNSSEC and more.

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