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Propagation Time

What’s the biggest complaint about DNS? Propagation time — specifically, the time it takes for DNS changes to become widespread across the Internet.

Any DNS provider using anycast with nodes in multiple locations should be able to implement changes pretty quickly, but the Internet is a pretty big enigma. Have you thought about the size of the DNS database, and how changes get out to the rest of the Internet? Neustar thinks about it all the time.

On the first point, Neustar UltraDNS isn’t just any DNS provider. We manage the domains that belong to the biggest brands on the Internet. Think of the size of our database. That’s why we’re very proud of the architecture we’ve built and the amazing technology that goes into keeping this massive store of data current, all around the world, in very near real-time.

How fast does it take to make an update on the UltraDNS network? We took a look at a week in February 2010 to get an idea. We can’t tell you how many changes we made that week or the size of the database, but the numbers are big. Here are the results of the times that it took for updates worldwide. The vast majority of changes took place in under two minutes. For example, someone updated a directional record in Seattle at 10:06 (PT) and Amsterdam knew about it at 10:08 (PT).

Thinking how DNS works, you understand that updating the Authoritative server is just one step in the DNS process for updates. The second part of the equation is delivering the changes to the rest of the Internet. In late 2009, we launched our DNS RT Directory, a centralized directory for service providers that manages Internet connectivity. The directory accepts and propagates the changes immediately, enabling more widespread changes quickly. We had some early adopters and partners such as OpenDNS, and as more and more of these vendors adopt the technology, changes will happen pervasively across the Internet, which will of course affect how we manage information and changes on the Internet.

We’d love to hear your stories about changes that you’ve made on the Internet and how quickly they’ve propagated out to the world. Send a recap of your story to ultradns@neustar.biz today, and we’ll return the favor with an UltraDNS trinket and potentially find a fun way to share your story with the world!

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About Stephanie Klaiber

Stephanie has over 12 years of marketing experience focusing on technology solutions, services and programs. Currently, Stephanie is a Marketing Manager at Neustar and has been with the organization for over 4 years and holds a BS in Communications from Old Dominion University.

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