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Read reviews of NS1 Managed DNS alternatives and competitors

James Marcus - PeerSpot reviewer
VP of Technical Operations and Devops at a consultancy with 5,001-10,000 employees
Real User
Centralized DNS management, good traffic routing capabilities, and significantly improves DNS response times
Pros and Cons
  • "We find that the low latency access to DNS queries has a direct effect on the customer experience. Visiting a site, whether it's an AdTech-based solution or marketing tech, the fact that whatever we're rendering on a page can be rendered better than the industry standard, in terms of time, ensures a better user experience."
  • "We would really like them to become a DNS registrar."

What is our primary use case?

The product is a DNS as a service and we have automated the creation and deletion of all sorts of DNS records.

How has it helped my organization?

We needed to have the fastest and most secure and resilient DNS possible, and that's what we got. We don't worry about denial of service attacks on the DNS, as we've seen other large vendors go through. We have access to a significant and forward-thinking feature set that allows us to use things like DNSSEC fairly easily.

Our DNS response times have improved significantly. I have not compared data within the past year but at the time, we looked at a 99.9% evaluation and saw that NS1 was the most effective and fastest solution.

We have access to enterprise tooling that allows us to have a single pane of glass between our internal DNS solutions and our external ones. We also have the ability to use advanced routing techniques with the rules engine or the additional tooling that NS1 provides.

The application traffic management capabilities using the API are excellent. We orchestrate that API using Terraform, which means that there are no manual steps involved in bringing up a piece of infrastructure that needs a DNS record or maintaining hygiene in our DNS records because services are taken down. All of it is orchestrated with the use of the API with Terraform on top to achieve it. Overall, it's a very robust API and it meets our needs.

While it doesn't apply to the entire company, this product allows us to utilize automation through the API, which saves us a significant amount of time and eliminates manual changes that are error-prone.

We have been unaffected by major DDoS attacks because of the architecture.

This product has allowed us to reduce or eliminate DNS maintenance work. I can't estimate how much time this has saved us but being able to use an API versus manual maintenance means that we don't really have to do any maintenance. We've been given a solution that allows us to automate everything that we need to do.

The automation provided by NS1 means that we no longer have to focus on that work, which allows us to assign staff to other tasks. Time is saved because we don't really use manual processes with the DNS. We try to automate everything we do in the DevOps team, so this has been effective for us.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable features are the DNSSEC and the general reliability and speed of the service. We find that the low latency access to DNS queries has a direct effect on the customer experience. Visiting a site, whether it's an AdTech-based solution or marketing tech, the fact that whatever we're rendering on a page can be rendered better than the industry standard, in terms of time, ensures a better user experience.

The Application Telemetry feature is awesome. This includes latency detection and it allows us to detect where a customer may run into latency on the internet, giving us the opportunity to route around it. It contributes to providing the best user experience for our clients.

Using the Pulsar feature has certainly improved our user experience. Using Pulsar with telemetry monitoring between the customer and the endpoint, we are able to detect traffic and route it appropriately, which ensures the uptime of our applications and web properties. It also ensures that the lowest latency experience is possible.

What needs improvement?

We would really like them to become a DNS registrar.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using NS1 Managed DNS for approximately seven years, since 2014, across companies.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I don't have any issues with stability.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability-wise, I haven't had any issues with this product. It is being used wherever we're using DNS and as our business grows, it will be utilized more.

We have a DevOps team and an infrastructure team that uses NS1. The DevOps team mainly manages the automation of the cloud infrastructure and tools, whereas the infrastructure team manages our legacy on-premises data center.

This product provides the scalability we need to help meet SLAs and customers' demands without adding complexity, which is very important to us. Although it doesn't happen as often anymore, there can be significant changes in the demand for our service. This has the potential to overwhelm services, just like we see in denial of service attacks. However, the available capacity in NS1 has meant that we've never had a challenge with that.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have worked with the customer success team and the experience was world-class. They're a customer-first team and they are always available. We reach out to them on Slack and they're always there for us. They're straightforward and transparent about any possible issues that they have on their side and overall, it's a wonderful experience.

The same is true for the product's technical support. They're always there for us and transparent about any challenges.

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

In the past, the company used Dyn, which is now by Oracle. I have also used UltraDNS.

There were several reasons that we switched. The number one reason is support and service, the second is the forward-thinking functionality and features, and the third reason is the cost.

How was the initial setup?

At this company, the initial setup was very straightforward.

It was an import, and it was completed in a matter of hours or less.

Our implementation strategy was to import or migrate the zones from a previous NS1 account that was owned by another company, and then make the necessary registrar changes. During our migration, there was zero downtime.

What about the implementation team?

I implemented NS1 Managed DNS at my current company. We completed the deployment in-house.

What was our ROI?

ROI is hard to quantify but in terms of application uptime and customer experience, we have seen a return on our investment.

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

The cost of this product is one of the reasons that we chose it.

There may be overage costs in addition to the standard licensing fees, although I haven't experienced them.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I looked at the Dyn and UltraDNS solutions. I also looked at Akamai Fast DNS and some of the cloud services. The two main reasons that we chose NS1 are the low-latency DNS, and a feature set that was unique and seemed to be beyond what anyone else was doing.

What other advice do I have?

My advice for anyone who thinks that they don't need a solution like this because they have a free or basic DNS with their cloud provider is that they need to evaluate how DNS solutions may affect the customer experience. They should consider the global footprint of NS1, the network architecture, and where they implement Anycast. If these things don't matter then they're probably not running a business that relies on website revenue or has a website that represents their business.

The biggest lesson that I have learned from using this product is how easy it was to implement it, and that doing so probably reduces the risk of migrating to a new DNS solution.

This is a product that I have recommended to many different people. In general, I would say that this has been the easiest solution to manage and implement.

I would rate this solution a ten out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud
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.
VP Information Technology & Cyber at a computer software company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Leaderboard
Has good traffic management, speed of updates, and observability
Pros and Cons
  • "Everything we download into our observability platform so that we can also track any changes in traffic behavior or things like that is also something that we use quite a lot. I'd say traffic management, the speed of updates, and observability are the top three things that we use."
  • "There could maybe be additional ways to manage traffic. There are no major improvements we're looking for. It's a very complete solution."

What is our primary use case?

NS1 holds all of our domains.

When we started using it, we didn't use it with API automation. Today, we do everything with automation and run everything with our automation, so that any change we run, all the data is backed up with GIT. Changes are done with an API so that there is no manual work. It reduces errors significantly and allows us to quickly roll back all the activities on the platform. It works flawlessly for us. Deployments are very fast. There's absolutely no complaint there.

We manage our internet facing traffic with it.

How has it helped my organization?

We use it for traffic optimization. I have optimized the traffic using this feature by 20%.

DNS obviously plays a major role in DDoS attacks. It's something that is under attack, but it's also a major player in its ability to defend. NS1 has been doing an amazing job with that.

It has improved our DNS response times as well. 

We've been using Managed DNS for the past 10 years. We moved from a different vendor a few years ago. Generally speaking, I would say that Managed DNS reduces the overhead. 

NS1's automation has enabled us to assign tasks to other work because we have very little DNS right now because it's all managed. It frees up SRE time to deal with actual internal system and application management, instead of managing the infrastructure that can be managed by a third party.

It helped to improve our end-user experience because users get better service by accelerating the response time.

We have also seen benefits when it comes to speed, time, and cost.

What is most valuable?

The ability to manage traffic, what's called Smart Domains or Smart Record, enables us to provide our customers the relevant, closest data center by providing the correct IP address according to geography or other logic. The ability to see real-time performance is also very useful. 

Everything we download into our observability platform so that we can also track any changes in traffic behavior or things like that is also something that we use quite a lot. I'd say traffic management, the speed of updates, and observability are the top three things that we use.

Observability means monitoring the API, the ability to see the traffic at the different levels, the ability to connect the right record to the right place, and then see everything within the platform or within our observability platform. It is really useful. The automation and the fact that they provide the connectivity into Terraform, for example, is very useful because it allows for ease of integration. I don't have to write the right API integrations myself. We can actually use industry standards that are available out there.

What needs improvement?

There could maybe be additional ways to manage traffic. There are no major improvements we're looking for. It's a very complete solution. 

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using NS1 Managed DNS for over four years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The platform itself is stable and highly available. We had very few incidents and never full downtime.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We have not found any scalability issues. We are running a pretty large operation ourselves, of around 100,000 requests per second, and we have never had any scalability issues with the platform. It's always scaled to the size that we need.

It provides scalability to help meet SOA and customers' demands without adding complexity. DNS is a basic part of any solution. And once you have 100,000 requests coming in and you need to make sure that the connectivity is there, the response time is there, the error levels are as low as possible, and every request actually gets an answer. If a third party can do this and I can take care of my actual application and not think about the path into my application, that is very useful.

How are customer service and technical support?

The only time we used support was when we migrated the additional features around security. They were highly professional and available. They are very good at what they do.

Post-deployment their support was very good. I would rate them a ten out of ten. They are very knowledgeable, not only about their product but about general DNS protocols, from performance to global interconnectivity. They were able to look at the whole picture and the small details within the picture as well.

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

We switched from Akamai. It was slower and had fewer features.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very straightforward. Using the migration itself was easy. The ongoing monitoring and change for the service, the support that we got from NS1, was all very clear. They are all very professional. There was no downtime. It's very, very straightforward. It took a few weeks. It was very short. 

We kept a backup of the old service up and running, and moved 50% of the traffic into the new DNS and then into the new managed service. Then once we saw everything was running smoothly, we deployed the rest.

We were working with NS1's customer success team during our deployment. I was satisfied with their support. 

What was our ROI?

We have seen better performance. It's very hard to measure if there is an ROI here, but we have absolutely seen better performance, and that is the important part for us.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also looked at Neustar. NS1 solution has many more features and it works faster than any of the other solutions. It was also that the pricing was clearer and much easier to work with in terms of the tiers of the pricing. It was really the full package.

What other advice do I have?

For those who have a free cloud provider or basic DNS, I would say that the road into the application and the road into your infrastructure is part of the actual solution that you provide. DNS is part of that pavement. That is the road that end-users reach your application. The higher quality you can have there, especially if it's at a reasonable price means that you will be able to better serve your customers. And that is an important part of IT. Eventually, we are here to serve the business and if we can serve them better then it has an impact.

Once you have it side-by-side to your existing solution and the stability, speed, reduced error level, the easy connectivity into other platforms, observability, and automation are all worth the investment in engineering time and cost.

I would rate NS1 Managed DNS a ten out of ten. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud
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.
Director of Site Reliability Engineering at a media company with 1,001-5,000 employees
Real User
Top 20Leaderboard
Filter Chain allows us to implement reliable DNS load balancing in a straightforward manner
Pros and Cons
  • "The fact that it's an API-first platform for DNS and application traffic management is one of the reasons we looked into NS1. We use it for a lot of automation and metrics gathering and it's been great."
  • "I would like to see the UI updated to allow me to do finer searches. I would also like to have the ability to get reports that can sort based on various metrics. For example, I would like to be able to say, "Show me the top 10 records by total queries" in an easy-to-digest format."

What is our primary use case?

We use NS1 to serve our public DNS and we have around 500 domains that we service through it. It is the public resolver for our website and various other entities we own, and it has been pretty good.

The solution is hosted by NS1. 

How has it helped my organization?

We have done some DNS load balancing through NS1 and, using the Filter Chain offering, it has been very straightforward. That's what really sets them apart from their competitors. It's very simple to do and very powerful, reliable, and accurate.

In addition, we haven't had any issues at all with uptime when there is a DDoS attack. When we have been the subject of an attack, NS1 has been up and stable for us, as well as performant. On top of that, it has been able to provide us with pretty good details of what kinds of attacks we have been subject to and what NS1 was doing at the time. Even if we are undergoing DDoS attacks, NS1 will still serve DNS for us.

We have also seen an improvement in our DNS response times compared to previous vendors we used that had had some churn on their response times.

NS1 has also reduced DNS maintenance work for us. Being an e-commerce platform, every millisecond counts for a customer, and we definitely struggled there. We do a lot of testing and monitoring of response times and, in other solutions, we were seeing that our DNS responses would be flapping from time to time, meaning sometimes they'd be really fast and sometimes they'd be really slow. In a dashboard or graph view, you'd see spikes, a screen full of mountains, things going up and down, up and down. But NS1 gives us a nice flat line, because it's always performant and fast and that's what we want to see. Every millisecond we can shave off is better for business.

We have also saved time when it comes to manual processes because NS1 is API-first. That means we can automate records, as needed, as part of other processes. And from time to time, as part of troubleshooting, they have a nice feature where you can see if there is a record or multiple records that get an abnormal amount of queries against them. You can see that granularly, down to the actual record view. That is something you can't do on a lot of platforms. The insight we get is really good compared to other solutions.

Another benefit is connected to the fact that we have some FTP servers that partners of ours use to send and receive files. Those servers are fronting several backend servers, although the partner wouldn't know. They connect to one endpoint and, from their point of view, it's just one server, but it's actually several servers. With the other solutions we've had, if maintenance was needed on a backend server, the partner would notice that the server was down. With NS1's Filter Chains and health checks and monitoring all built-in, we can take servers like that out of service and the partner would never know because NS1 just routes them to a healthy server. That kind of stuff is extremely important for us.

What is most valuable?

  • Ease of use 
  • Stability - We haven't had any issues at all with the service.

Also, the fact that it's an API-first platform for DNS and application traffic management is one of the reasons we looked into NS1. We use it for a lot of automation and metrics gathering and it's been great.

Its real-time telemetry and ecosystem of integrations are very easy to use. We haven't taken advantage of much of that, but the fact that we know those capabilities are there, and that they're pretty straightforward, is key. We have done a few things using their routing protocols that are provided as part of the service and that has been really nice. We can actually do automation around that as needed.

What needs improvement?

I would like to see the UI updated to allow me to do finer searches. I would also like to have the ability to get reports that can sort based on various metrics. For example, I would like to be able to say, "Show me the top 10 records by total queries" in an easy-to-digest format. If I wanted to do that today, given that we have 500 domains, I'd have to go into every single domain and browse through it to see what is getting hit the most. That kind of filtering functionality would help because our licensing model is based on the number of queries we serve per month. If something goes hog-wild, I want to be able to easily find what that is and then react to it.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using NS1 Managed DNS for about four years. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

If there are scalability issues, they haven't been apparent to us as a customer. As a system engineer, I can empathize and I'm sure they have some internally, but we haven't seen them. The scalability helps meet SLAs and customers’ demands, without adding complexity.

Every customer who hits our website is using NS1, so that is up to millions per day. Internally, it's mostly system engineers who use it to add or remove records and there are about a dozen of them, possibly more.

In terms of increasing use of NS1, we're looking into their internal DNS and DHCP solutions. That would be a complicated migration for us, and we are currently in multi-year agreements with other vendors. The goal would be to start slowly migrating over to NS1 for all of our DNS and DHCP needs, but that will take a few years.

How are customer service and support?

We have a dedicated success manager. We don't need a lot from him, but every two or three months he checks in to see if we have any large needs. We also meet with him once every few months just to touch base.

Their technical support is really quick to respond to concerns. They communicate well and provide feedback that's not only technical but easy to understand if you're not technical. They do a great job.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

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

We've used other tools like this over the years, obviously, being a publicly exposed e-commerce platform, and we've had some struggles with them. NS1 has been really smooth for us. Most recently we used Dyn DNS. They were purchased by Oracle and, predictably, their offering went downhill after that. Dyn was cumbersome, at best, to get the stats and reports that we needed, and to steer traffic as needed. With NS1, it has been extremely straightforward.

The clincher that made us switch to NS1, for me, was actually talking to their CEO at a conference in New York, in 2017. He gave a presentation on their ability to withstand large attacks. He is a systems engineer/architect/programmer at heart. He knew the tech side of the industry and that gave me the confidence I needed that he actually knew how to solve some of the problems that we were facing.

We then went through some stress tests with NS1 and it was much more performant than other vendors that we had done trials with.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was straightforward. There wasn't a whole lot to it. I had to learn the semantics that are specific to the system, but once I did that it was really straightforward.

The deployment took a few phone calls and meetings with our onboarding team and engineers, to go over the scope. The work itself was really pretty straightforward and took just a couple days.

Our implementation strategy was to sync the main zones we care about, like our main ".com" domain, which is a big zone where a lot of our traffic comes. We added the NS1 name servers to that zone, in addition to the Dyn name servers. That meant a customer going to our website would get served through Dyn or NS1 or sometimes they'd bounce around. Once we saw that NS1 was receiving traffic, we let it bake for a couple of days and then we started removing the Dyn name servers, to the point where there was only NS1 left. There was no downtime when we migrated to NS1 from Dyn.

The solution's automation has saved our staff work. As I mentioned, we host about 500 domains and serve DNS publicly through NS1. We were doing a lot of that in-house on our own infrastructure and appliances, through Infoblox. The thought of migrating all of that to another platform was kind of harrowing. But with the NS1 API, it actually took us maybe four hours to do all the work. That kind of stuff is really helpful when you're an assistant engineer and you have multitasking upon multitasking happening. I was thinking that project would take two months, but it took one day to do.

What about the implementation team?

We did not use a third-party.

What was our ROI?

Our ROI comes from the fact that it has been stable and we've had to spend less time on it than we did with third-party integrations and other solutions that we've purchased. It's more of a set-it-and-forget-it type of platform, which is extremely valuable.

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

NS1's pricing is much more aggressive than its competitors in the market and you get more value out of what you pay for it.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We went through trials with Dyn, of course, because we were their customer. We had also done some trials with Infoblox, which is another of our vendors, but that was where we were hosting the DNS ourselves and using their appliances. And we did some trials with Akamai, which is our CDN provider—the biggest one on the internet—and they have their own DNS offering.

But NS1 outperformed all of them in terms of the ability to administer it and the actual response times of queries and the propagation of DNS records out to the greater internet. It was much faster, generally speaking, in broadcasting those changes. A DNS has a TTL, a time to live. If you change a record or add a record, it can take up to a certain amount of time to propagate throughout the world, which makes sense because the world is one big connected internet. Akamai was taking a few hours to propagate and NS1 was taking just seconds or minutes to propagate. That was key for us. If we have to make changes because there's a routing issue or an internet issue somewhere in the world, we want to make sure that we can serve traffic. If we need to make some changes on our DNS, NS1 publishes them right away.

What other advice do I have?

If someone says they don't need to spend money on a solution like this because they have a free cloud provider or basic DNS, I would say you get what you pay for and that you're also paying for the time and energy you have to put in, yourself, to do the work.

Perhaps one of the biggest wins for NS1 is that people don't readily know their name at times. That means they're doing a good job and people don't even think about who our DNS provider is because it just works.

I would say use NS1, without hesitation.

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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Valentino Volonghi - PeerSpot reviewer
Chief Technology Officer at a tech vendor with 501-1,000 employees
Real User
Top 20Leaderboard
Terraform integration means all entries are created and Configuration done at deploy time, reducing manual work
Pros and Cons
  • "For starters, it integrates with Terraform and a lot of our infrastructure is effectively built out using Terraform. That makes all this stuff extremely easy... when we deploy, all the entries are created and configuration is done."
  • "We use the geo load balancing functionality and there are a couple of things that are helpful there. But the language itself is something we had to get used to a little bit. Some of my folks made a few mistakes in rolling out the Filter Chain...The Filter Chain setup is a bit hard to grasp at first. It would also be nice to have a way to simulate changes in addition to staging."

What is our primary use case?

We are a marketing platform with a pretty wide range of customers around the world, from small businesses, like mom and pop shops that sell shirts, to enterprises like Salesforce or VMware, on the B2B side. Our JavaScript tags and our servers on the customer side generally have to answer requests very quickly, always be available, and not lose any data. Among our products is advertising, and that side is required to answer requests that come in from around the world. Usually they're geo-distributed when they come to us. There are many millions of requests a second that we need to handle.

On the customer side, our use case is simple. Requests coming in from an end user, from their browser, need to be routed to the closest endpoint so that the latency is consistently low. The other requirement is that if one of those regions, in a very rare occurrence, is experiencing problems, we need to be able to clear traffic to a secondary or tertiary region to avoid downtime. In that situation, a little bit more latency is fine, but downtime would not be. To do this, we've always used global service load balancing, or DNS anycast, to an extent.

How has it helped my organization?

NS1 has greatly reduced DNS maintenance work in our organization. I used to have to log in just to do user-provisioning. That would be something that took me an hour every time we needed to add or remove a couple of users from the old account. With Okta, I never have to deal with that anymore. And during failures, logging in to the account and searching for what was wrong was pathetic when we were using Dyn. With NS1, the interface is pretty fast.

For example, the other day we had an account customer complaining to us that for certain records we were serving, the necessary certificate was expired. I looked into it and it was because it was being sent to our old CDN vendor and I needed to figure out where this stuff was serviced. I went into NS1 and saw that the record name did not have any traffic on NS1. Instead, it was a record name served via Route 53 on a different account. I could not have done that inside Dyn because there was no reporting breakdown on a per-record or a per-node level. In this case, I just removed an entire DNS. The only thing that was left was Route 53 so I could go directly into Route 53 without losing my mind. It took me about 15 minutes while sitting on the couch to fix it. It easily saves us hours every month. And I rarely log in to NS1 anymore because it just works.

We do less manual stuff now. For instance, to deploy a new region for the advertising side of our business, it would take a lot of very manual work to add records. Now we can just Terraform it. That process has gone from taking the relatively long period of an entire day to being able to Terraform, apply, and be done with it. We don't create new regions very often, but if it has to be done manually it's prone to errors and takes a long time. Now, instead, it's automatic and there's no potential for errors anymore.

Going with NS1 has also improved the user experience for our users. We had more than one situation in which Dyn probes were monitoring from across the ocean and they would cause the data center not to be the one servicing requests anymore. That would cause an increased latency for our end-users and would make the experience worse for our customers. Now that I can select the probes and make sure that the ones that detect if something is up or down are the ones that are relevant for the user experience, that doesn't happen anymore.

What is most valuable?

For starters, it integrates with Terraform and a lot of our infrastructure is effectively built out using Terraform. That makes all this stuff extremely easy. With Dyn we had to have a separate process to update DNS entries, and only a person like me could do it. Even then, it was going to be a very delicate process. Now, we have it integrated with Terraform and when we deploy, all the entries are created and configuration is done.

As an API-first platform for DNS it is great. The one thing it needs to do for us is be integrated with our infrastructure-as-a-service setup, Terraform. In that regard it beats all of its competitors, including Dyn from Oracle and Route 53 from Amazon. Neither of them support integration with Terraform. Their support team is also great around this stuff.

Secondly, the user interface is pretty fast and it's very easy to get reporting on queries-per-second underneath each record. That means that if we misconfigure something we can very quickly see the results in the metrics. That wasn't the case with Dyn. Being able to see the metrics helps. It helps that the interface is really quick, and relatively easy to use, especially compared to other solutions that we've seen, including Route 53, which we also use.

Technically speaking, there is no one button to enable load balancing like the others, but you can customize the way load balancing works more, to your own specific needs. We took advantage of that for the particular way we want to run our infrastructure. It's a little bit harder to set up compared to what Dyn was, but it's certainly more flexible. That needed to be learned and we played around with it for a little while at the beginning, before doing the migration. But since the migration, everything has been going well.

Another thing that is pretty helpful is that every one of these entries has its own target probe, called "monitors" in NS1 parlance. Each one of these endpoints has a set of monitors and it's possible to choose the regions from which you check the times of an area and the policies. This wasn't possible with Dyn, unless you talked with the account manager, and it would still always be a little off. There were occasions in which Dyn decided that a server in Tokyo was down because it wasn't reachable from San Francisco, and no one cared. Considering that we have a data center in San Francisco, San Francisco traffic shouldn't determine what happens to the Tokyo data center. Using Dyn made things like that a pain to deal with, but with NS1 we have been able to select the specific region from which we are monitoring our endpoints to determine if they are up or down and if they need to be pulled out of rotation. And they have mostly been working fine.

There is also a Slack integration that we set up for our monitors. Whenever a monitor goes down, or there's a down and up, we get a notification in Slack. That means that the routing of requests to our team, for escalating any problem with the DNS, can be done more democratically than we used to be able to do with Dyn. With that solution, it would be sent to the email associated with the account. 

In addition, there are the more intangible things, such as being on an exclusive, dedicated DNS network. I gather NS1 has both dedicated and shared DNS infrastructure, and I think we are on the dedicated. I've never tried the other one, and I don't know how Dyn was set up, but we've never had issues since switching. Everything has worked pretty well.

What needs improvement?

We use the geo load balancing functionality and there are a couple of things that are helpful there. But the language itself is something we had to get used to a little bit. Some of my folks made a few mistakes in rolling out the Filter Chain. It doesn't return all of the multiple results by default. It returns only one. So we have to add a bunch of operations, like geo-target by first selecting a group in terms of regional proximity and then shuffle the list of potential endpoints and then select the first one. The Filter Chain setup is a bit hard to grasp at first. It would also be nice to have a way to simulate changes in addition to staging. 

Also, right now, as far as I understand, there is no way to do atomic changes to a DNS configuration. You need to make changes record by record and apply. But if someone wants to do more complex stuff like, for example, if I want to migrate from a CNAME to an A record being served, or vice versa, that's typically something that involves first taking out all of the CNAMEs and then adding all of the A records. That would require some downtime. It would be a lot easier if I could just have the new full record with the CNAME or A record, and then be able to replace the nodes directly in a single operation and I don't think they have that.

For how long have I used the solution?

We started using NS1 Managed DNS in 2018 or 2019.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Except for that one time that they had probe monitor issues, we've never had a single problem with it. It's pretty stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We haven't had any issues with the scalability. The scalability helps meet SLAs and customers’ demands without adding complexity. We run more than 4.5 billion queries per month on our DNS, so it's pretty critical that they can handle that volume and it's been going pretty well so far.

How are customer service and support?

We used their tech support at the start a couple of times. We were trying to get onboarded and some of us were getting confused with the setup for load balancing DNS. The first or second time that we dealt with them they decided to just write out for us the way that the Filter Chain was supposed to be.

Another couple of times, they wrote to us first about issues. 

There had been some kind of ongoing event and we wrote to them. They responded very quickly that there was an issue and that some of their probes were down. That told us not to go hunting for anything. Rather, I was able to go in the UI and force probes not to be considered for a period of time in the uptime and downtime of an area. As far as I remember, responses from NS1 were all well within one hour.

How would you rate customer service and support?

Positive

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

When Dyn was bought by Oracle and then Oracle decided to flip everybody over to a new infrastructure, that was when we decided to switch. We had used Dyn since 2009, and it had been working fine.

Dyn didn't do any automatic migration for us from the old accounts to the new account. Oracle forced everybody to do that. And Dyn didn't develop the platform at all in the preceding six years or so, and there were many features we wanted that they didn't field. We decided that if we were going to have to do the migration by hand anyway, and whatever risk might be involved in that, we might as well consider NS1. NS1 reached out to us, as a customer of Dyn, knowing what was coming. Their sales team did a proper job. We talked about the plan from Dyn and when we talked about their platform we decided to switch.

User management was also a mess with Dyn. Truly the worst part of that solution was dealing with the user management. With NS1 it's integrated with our Okta. We gave access to folks that need access to DNS via Okta, so it's integrated with our permissions system, and Dyn was not.

When we switched from Dyn, one parameter that we used for determining our choice of infrastructure, going forward, was DNS response times. The response time with NS1 is fine. From my own computer it's not as fast as Dyn was, it's just a smidgen slower, but it's still pretty fast. We don't need it any faster than that.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup of the solution was pretty straightforward. We did it within about 15 days. There was zero downtime in migrating to the solution. If there had been any downtime we would not have done it.

What about the implementation team?

We worked with their customer success team. They helped us set things up at the start, but it took very little time. We did almost all of it ourselves and they gave us a little bit of help on the Filter Chain stuff. I did the switchover myself and everything worked out.

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

We promised NS1 that we would do the migration in a very short period of time and that we were open to being on their homepage for marketing purposes, and they gave us a good price at the time.

We pay about $30,000 a month. We used to pay about $20,000 with Dyn every month, for lower volume than we're doing right now, but it had none of the features that we have available with NS1, so it was worth it for us. It seems competitive for us, given that we're doing 4.5 billion requests. And when you do load balancing like that for downtime, all of your TTLs are very low. A lot of our TTLs are in the five-minute space. It generates a ton of extra load on the DNS when you do five-minute TTLs. If we wanted to decrease our bill we could just increase our TTLs, but we don't feel like risking that.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

If someone were to say to me that they don't need to spend money on a solution like this because they have a free cloud provider or basic DNS, I would tell them that's not true. The free providers don't provide global load balancing. There are no free solutions that do geo load balancing.

If you try the other options like Amazon Route 53 or Dyn or Ultra DNS, the only way you can get geo load balancing is if you use something like Route 53's policy editor. It's graphical only, extremely slow, and there are a lot of limitations to what it can do.

I played around with Route 53 extensively. I have been a member of the customer advisory board of AWS for a very long time now. I really like a lot of their solutions and I tried to get Route 53 going, but it just wasn't good enough, and it wasn't free. It was expensive. There was no way to deal with it without the policy manager, as well.

Dyn is a pain. We had nine years of experience with it and I would not want to use it again. 

If you have normal DNS needs that don't involve advanced features of a DNS, you may be able to deal with Route 53 or another simple DNS solution, although probably not a free DNS service. But if you have anything more complex than the simple stuff, I doubt those solutions will work for you.

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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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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