What is DDI solution?
The very short answer to “What is DDI?” is that it stands for DNS, DHCP, and IP address management (IPAM). It is often used as a shorthand acronym to describe the integration of these three core components of networking into one management solution.
There has always been some truth to the claim that “internal” and “external” networks are different.
Customers are used to thinking of firewalls as the wall separating internal systems that are only accessible by authorized personnel from the network components we expose to the outside world. However, that barrier is opening up more as decentralized content, website, and application delivery mechanisms become more prevalent.
This also applies to the individuals in charge of those network components. The management of both external delivery systems and internal network pathways is frequently the responsibility of the same group of people.
Best DDI solutions
It makes sense in this situation for the DNS, DHCP, and IPAM (DDI) systems that were previously used to administer “internal” networks to also be involved in the administration of external, authoritative DNS. An IT manager will typically spin up a BIND server to handle network traffic on both sides of the firewall in small businesses to address this issue. Larger and medium-sized businesses frequently use a commercially available DDI solution for authoritative DNS as well.
Because it’s one less system to maintain, most network administrators use DDI solutions for authoritative DNS. From a single interface, you can control both sides of the network. The team will only need to learn how to use one system when internal and external network management are combined, negating the need for them to become experts in either area of the network.
The drawbacks of authoritative DNS with DDI
Although DDI is frequently the go-to option for authoritative DNS due to its simplicity and ease of use, there are several compelling arguments against the two systems being integrated.
A DDoS attack could bring down both sides of your network if your authoritative DNS is hosted on the same servers and systems as your internal DDI solution. This risk is not negligible. The majority of businesses may at some point face a DDoS attack due to their increasing frequency and severity.
The impact of an outage is exacerbated and recovery times are greatly lengthened when the same infrastructure is used for both internal and external operations. Not being able to communicate with end users is already problematic. Even worse is when you are unable to access internal systems.
Unfortunately, most businesses won’t spend money on defensive countermeasures or server capacity necessary to withstand a sizable DDoS attack. The cost of covering all of that idle capacity, as well as the labor and materials required to keep it up over time, adds up quickly.
A natural gap that restricts exposure in the case of a DDoS-related outage is created when authoritative DNS and internal DDI systems are separated. It implies that there are two systems to maintain, but it also ensures that they won’t fail simultaneously.
Scale Network infrastructure is costly to buy and keep up. (We know, we promise!) The majority of small and medium-sized businesses that use authoritative DNS solutions from DDI lack the resources to set up more than three or four locations to handle incoming traffic from all over the globe.
The strain on those servers quickly becomes unmanageable as businesses expand. Increased latency and subpar application performance begin to negatively impact both internal and external users’ experiences. Steering traffic based on geography or other factors is either extremely difficult or impossible DDI solutions aren’t designed to do that.
On the other hand, managed DNS solutions for authoritative DNS instantly offer global coverage with excess capacity. Users receive a consistent experience that can be tailored to take into consideration various operational factors such as geography. For their own work, internal users do not use the same resources. Additionally, they receive a reliable and consistent user experience.
Limitations of the BIND architecture
Providing an authoritative DNS solution that can be accessed over the internet is not the primary (or exclusive) purpose of DDI solutions; rather, they are made for internal network management. DDI vendors acknowledge that a portion of their clientele demands authoritative DNS use cases, so they grudgingly support them. However, they’re not willing to stick with it in the long run. For this reason, the majority of DDI vendors allow authoritative DNS functionality to be outsourced to other providers through partnerships and plug-ins.
In terms of architecture, this typically translates to the authoritative DNS partner being marketed as a “public secondary” system, while the DDI provider functions as a hidden primary. This can be an awkward workaround that restricts the functionality of your network. Most DDI vendors are limited in their ability to support common authoritative DNS use cases by their BIND architectures, especially when a partner is involved.
An excellent illustration is the apex’s support for ALIAS records. Although this workaround is frequently used on sites with intricate back-end configurations, it is sadly unfeasible when using BIND-dependent DDI, which makes managing name redirection at the zone apex challenging.
Even though traffic steering is a basic feature for authoritative DNS solutions, most DDI vendors do not support it. It’s crucial to keep in mind that even simple traffic steering based on location can greatly enhance user experience and response times.
Deploying a DDI solution for authoritative DNS is comparable to creating your own authoritative solution in terms of infrastructure. All of the servers must be purchased, installed globally, and maintained over time. The vendor in this case, a DDI vendor from whom you purchase those servers is the only distinction.
As previously mentioned, the substantial expenses linked to acquiring and implementing a solution in this manner typically prompt businesses to reduce the quantity of servers they acquire. Consequently, one experiences restricted worldwide reach and reduced efficiency when compared to a managed DNS service such as NS1. In addition to paying more, you also receive a smaller footprint, which detracts from the user experience.
Additionally, the cost analysis continues after the first deployment. DDI infrastructure operation and maintenance is a labor-intensive task that calls for a steady infusion of specialized and dedicated resources. Should you choose to contract out that maintenance to a DDI vendor, expect to pay an additional amount for professional services. Due to the equipment’s infamously short refresh cycles, DDI companies frequently use “maintenance” to mean “replacement” every three to five years.
The advantage of a managed DNS service provider like NS1 over a DDI vendor is evident in terms of cost. The cost of managed DNS services is significantly lower than that of DDI vendors and they offer greater worldwide coverage, inherent resilience, and a vast array of features. When you consider the absence of upkeep and replacement expenses, it becomes an obvious choice.
It is true that while DDI appliances can handle a large volume of queries, managed DNS providers will charge usage fees. However, even after accounting for that query volume, a managed solution’s pricing is very appealing.
A smooth transition from managed authoritative DNS to DDI
Making the move to a managed provider for authoritative DNS if you’re currently using a DDI solution might seem a little intimidating at first. When making a cutover, there are numerous operational factors to take into account and a risk associated with actually turning the switch.
Because of this, IBM advise using NS1 as a backup choice for authoritative DNS at first. Network teams can use this to test the system and become accustomed to its operation by introducing a small amount of production traffic into it. You can gradually switch over your traffic over time, scaling up your managed DNS solution and gradually phasing out the DDI system workload one workload at a time.