Enterprise IT and end users alike tend to take the Domain Name System (DNS) for granted. While those who don’t work in network operations might not even know what DNS is — let alone the central role it plays in making the Internet a space humans can navigate — even IT often just expects the system to always perform.
DNS is designed to be reliable and speedy. Recursive resolvers cache popular domains so that most traffic doesn’t even need to jump between a globally-distributed hierarchy of DNS infrastructure. But when these systems do fail or a server becomes unreliable, it can stop connectivity in its tracks.
In the enterprise space, this can result in performance-related issues for employees reliant on internal enterprise apps and cloud tools, along with customers or partners trying to access a company’s external-facing applications. While these are most commonly lingering minor issues, critical failures of DNS systems do happen, and can expose lack of appropriate redundancy.
For a global organization, DNS performance can vary widely across locations. Specific branch offices, for instance, can experience massive delays in DNS resolution times if they aren’t leveraging a local DNS server and are always going external with their domain lookup requests. End-user experience may also be be negatively impacted if DNS from a particular branch location is repeatedly resolving to an IP address in another geography when there is a local regional presence they could leverage instead — all things teams are blind to without DNS monitoring.
There might also be issues that come up when teams migrate to a new DNS provider or when moving DNS servers to new locations. It’s essential that network performance is at least as good post-transition (if not better) than it was prior. DNS monitoring can confirm whether or not providers are meeting their SLAs or if network configurations aren’t delivering as promised — all useful data IT can use to influence buying decisions down the line.
Monitoring can help identify a wealth of other scenarios, too.
If DNS isn’t resolving your domain, it could be related to two common scenarios that require visibility to rectify. A DNS outage or failure, for instance, might be the culprit, but teams would need visibility to identify if it’s isolated to one location, or if it’s unique to all.
DNS slowness, too, where there’s intermittent periods where DNS resolution times get much longer, requires the ability of network teams to monitor resolution times over time to get clued into trends.
A dissenting DNS server that intermittently (or indefinitely) responds with a different IP address than the other servers could also be at the root of end-user headaches. This could be due to a configuration issue, to incorrect geolocation causing it to resolve to an IP address for a point of presence in a different region, or even to a DNS hijack. This can be particularly bad when that server provides the fastest response, which for most cases means that it is used frequently.
It all comes down to the fact that teams can’t do anything to resolve issues that they can’t see. At the end of the day, DNS monitoring is yet another layer of visibility that is essential to teams tasked with keeping their enterprise network running smoothly.