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Michael Wills - PeerSpot reviewer
Senior Network Systems Engineer at McKesson
Real User
Balances cost and functionality, speeds up provisioning, and reduces the DNS maintenance work drastically
Pros and Cons
  • "The provisioning is great. They have an API service that is simple to use and very quick. The changes that we make are replicated worldwide in a matter of usually milliseconds, sometimes seconds. They are done very rapidly. That's something that's obviously priceless when we're dealing with things like DNS."
  • "The reporting metrics are great from an API standpoint, but it would be a little bit nicer if there was some type of dashboard around that. There should also be some type of reporting that's more executive-level focused."

What is our primary use case?

We basically use their NS1 Managed DNS service as a secondary DNS server. So essentially they front end all of the McKesson DNS queries around the world.

It is a SaaS solution. So, we are using its latest version.

How has it helped my organization?

We were moving to this product from 2018 to '19. We were baselining before the pandemic. Nearly as soon as the pandemic started, the DNS queries almost doubled as people were trying to order more of anything related to medicine.

It has absolutely improved our DNS response time. Within our environment, we have customers who are worldwide. Our previous solution was located at a single location. Once we moved to this solution, our customers in Canada and the EU saw vast improvements. Our customers who were already in the United States may also have seen a more improved response time. It was not necessarily as noticeable, but it was probably still on the order of half the response time.

It has reduced DNS maintenance work in our organization, but it is hard to quantify. From an operational standpoint, the work has been reduced drastically. Before the solution, we'd have to send emails and go to portals, all of which takes a fair amount of time and interactions between people, whereas now, it's just an API call and the thing is gone or added. So, from a maintenance standpoint, mainly in terms of maintenance provisioning and deprovisioning, since we don't really see the internals of the SaaS solution, the reduction would be drastic. It would be a tenth of the time.

It has saved us time when it comes to manual processes. When it comes to provisioning, with the solution that we had before NS1, we had to tell clients that we had a one-week turnaround time, but now, we tell them that we can have it for them on the same day or even the same hour, which is pretty significant.

It has improved our end-user experience. A caveat is that with a lot of these things, if you're doing your job well, nobody notices you, and if you're doing them wrong, they're happy to tell you that everything is broken. I can say that so far, the end-user experience has been good. From a service standpoint, it has definitely improved uptime, and we haven't had to call them for any issues or anything to that effect. I haven't seen any problems.

What is most valuable?

The provisioning is great. They have an API service that is simple to use and very quick. The changes that we make are replicated worldwide in a matter of usually milliseconds, sometimes seconds. They are done very rapidly. That's something that's obviously priceless when we're dealing with things like DNS.

It is great as an API-first platform for DNS and application traffic management. It is very simple to use. It allows us to rapidly provision and deprovision things. We are all around happy with the solution.

From a metrics standpoint, the solution that we came from had no metrics. So, it has been great. Their service team is excellent in taking the time to provide reports for both growth and strategic planning. It has been great.

What needs improvement?

The reporting metrics are great from an API standpoint, but it would be a little bit nicer if there was some type of dashboard around that. There should also be some type of reporting that's more executive-level focused.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for three to four years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

You generally hear about things when they're broken, and you do not hear from people when things are going great. Going by that, I haven't heard much of anything one way or the other. Looking at online services that evaluate such things, they're always near the top, and my anecdotal input would be the same. It is very reliable and very stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It can be very easily scaled, but it depends on your company's internal processes.

It provides scalability to help meet SLAs and customers' demands without adding complexity. They're very flexible in what they can provide and very simple in that too. The more simple something is, the more chance there is of its adherence to the standards in the organization.

From an administrative standpoint, there is really no one who is using this solution at this point. Everything has been automated. So, it is mostly hands-off except for what people need to do specifically. From a service standpoint, the entire company uses it. So, it is being extensively used in the organization at the moment, and there is a recognition of its reliability because I've recently had more and more customers who want to start leveraging it.

In terms of our plans to increase its usage, from an architectural standpoint, it is driven by requirements from the business. So, at this time, there may not be immediate recognition around that or even demand, but down the road, I would expect to expand its scope.

How are customer service and support?

I haven't contacted their technical support. I have only interacted with their customer success team. Our experience with them was absolutely positive. They were wonderful. Their service team was excellent in taking the time to provide reports for both growth and strategic planning and helping us with just about everything that they could do from a validation standpoint.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We did use other solutions previously, but they were non-purpose-driven tools. They were value-added services that Verizon and Sprint, now T-Mobile, sold us. The reasons for switching were scalability and speed of provisioning. 

How was the initial setup?

From a setup standpoint, it was very simple. They also had a great customer success team that helped us along the whole way with just about everything that they could do from a validation standpoint.

In terms of duration, if you add up the actual time of doing the work, it was probably days because of the amount of data, but the actual implementation took longer because of the administrative functions imposed by the organization. It was not because of the tool itself.

In terms of the implementation strategy, we had a phased approach. We took low-touch things as an initial test case and then ramped up to run through the rest of the other ones. When migrating to this solution, the downtime was zero.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

From a cost standpoint, it's certainly not the most expensive out there, and it's also not the cheapest, but it does well to balance cost and functionality/reliability.

There are additional costs for different modules if you need them. Otherwise, they can give you very specific pricing for what you need.

To someone who says that they don't need to spend money on a solution like this because they have a free cloud provider or basic DNS, from our specific history, I would say that you get what you pay for. More specifically, NS1 does very well to balance cost and functionality.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We went through a number of solutions. We were balancing specific demands at the time with cost. So, we went to a number of solutions and checked different providers for that. We talked to most of the big ones such as Dyn, Cloudflare, and Verisign. We had a couple of others too. What made us go with NS1 was the balancing of cost and features and simplicity. It was much easier to use than a lot of the other tools.

What other advice do I have?

Depending on where you came from, get ready for a much easier administrative life for yourself.

In terms of maintaining uptime during a major DDoS attack, we haven't seen any attack, which can be read into one way or the other. It's part of our architecture to leverage two providers in case there is an issue with one, but as far as I've been able to tell, I haven't seen any outages physically.

It provides integrations that enable full-stack observability with automatic, real-time adjustments, but it is just not how we're architected to leverage their service.

I'd rate it a nine out of ten. I feel there's always room for growth, but from what they have right now, it's a very solid, very reliable, and very wonderful experience product.

Disclosure: PeerSpot contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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