The history of DNS (Domain Name System) starts with the earliest of early networked systems: ARPANET. DNS has often been characterized as the “phone book” for the internet — that analogy was, of course, invented in an era where phonebooks were a thing.
It may be more fitting to liken it to a phone company switchboard. Even in the earliest days of ARPANET, however, the required communication was to send an email to Stanford Research Institute at Stanford University, where the hosts.txt file was maintained, to get a new Hostname into the list. Then, all Internet hosts updated the hosts.txt file twice a week via FTP file transfer. Twice a week... by FTP!
Interesting fact: whatever platform you’re using, chances are you can find a hostsfile somewhere on your computer. This is a remnant of the early ARPANET days. Back then, a simple static text file controlled the entirety of the network.
The Making of a Network (a.k.a. “everything has changed”)
As the networks grew, the need to wait became cumbersome, if not unbearable. Business was increasingly conducted outside of bank hours, and computers were moving data faster for us. So, why not use computing to handle IP assignments as well?
In 1983, the standard for DNS was accepted by the ARPANET community. By 1984, at UC Berkeley, we saw the advent of "Open Source" Berkeley Unix Distribution (BSD) and ported TCP/IP to Unix, making Unix a networked OS (under a DARPA grant) resulting in the first version of the Berkeley Internet Name Domain (BIND). To this day BIND serves as the de facto DNS software of the internet.
Thereafter, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) was founded, and with it came new formal processes that have shaped the backend of the internet as we know it today.
Fast Forward To Now (a.k.a. “nothing’s different”)
You may be thinking: that’s interesting and all, but what does that have to do with my DNS network?
Well: DNS hasn’t changed much in the last 4 decades. Of course, the explosive growth of the internet has changed the ways we map, scale and secure our networks. But the fundamental operating principles of DNS haven’t changed since its inception-- it’s still the switchboard of the internet. Instead of humans making a request through email, however, systems can call on DNS services, any time of day, to assign a multitude of IP addresses at a time.
The introduction of IPv6 (which has yet to be fully realized), and the dawn of cloud computing and IoT (Internet of Things) brought significantly increased device requests and IP traffic.However, all that has not changed what DNS does; rather only how it does it.
We’ve Seen It Change and Stay the Same
DNS has changed very little; but the way we utilize it changed immensely. We've seen it: since the 1990’s, Men & Mice has serviced enterprise companies with DNS, DHCP and IPAM solutions.
We proactively evolve our overlay network management solutions to meet the needs of enterprise customers, and now high growth IoT companies as well. (Note: the two are not mutually exclusive.)
We are working with perhaps the most fundamental building (scaling) block of the internet. Our expertise is focused on the importance of adaptation. Network infrastructures have become hybrid, or have moved to the cloud completely. Multitudes of DNS services and environments have come to market introducing greater choices, but also complexities for network managers.
Men & Mice and the future of DNS
Men & Mice has evolved its DNS, DHCP and IPAM solutions to cater to these changing environments. We adapted to become more flexible, so that the networks of our clients can migrate across network vendors easier. We created a unified network management console to manage, in one place, all of the diverse platforms that make up a company’s network.
We’ve introduced new services such as xDNS in 2017 to help companies manage all external DNS. Likewise, we added deeper functionality with Microsoft Azure and Azure DNS for Microsoft customers with large domain portfolios.
We’ve streamlined our sales and customer journey processes, to reflect the same ease of use customers experience in our software solutions. Get a Live Demo directly from our website, for example.
We continue to offer some of the most sought-after training courses for companies and individuals who wish to learn or sharpen their understanding of DNS, enabling them to significantly increase expertise levels across their teams.
Meet our team
Join us in Berlin on May 15th, for a special event with the Embassy of Iceland in Germany. We will discuss the “State of Network Management” and the new challenges of DNS, DHCP and IPAM.
Or, meet us at Managed Service Hosting Summit, Cisco Live, Microsoft Inspire,VMWorld and Microsoft Ignite in the coming months.
Interesting fact: Bob Metcalfe, who invented the standard of the ethernet, predicted in 1995 that the internet would collapse in a year. He also envisioned an end to wireless technologies, and that computers would stay wired.To his credit, he did — as per his promise — eat his words, literally, after none of those things happened.