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Route 53

Route 53 Basics

Route 53 Alternatives and Lock-In

  • Historically, AWS was slow to penetrate the DNS market (as it is often driven by perceived reliability and long-term vendor relationships) but Route 53 has matured and is becoming the standard option for many companies. Route 53 is cheap by historic DNS standards, as it has a fairly large global network with geographic DNS and other formerly “premium” features. It’s convenient if you are already using AWS.
  • ⛓Generally you don’t get locked into a DNS provider for simple use cases, but increasingly become tied in once you use specific features like geographic routing or Route 53’s alias records.
  • 🚪Many alternative DNS providers exist, ranging from long-standing premium brands like UltraDNS and Dyn to less well known, more modestly priced brands like DNSMadeEasy. Most DNS experts will tell you that the market is opaque enough that reliability and performance don’t really correlate well with price.
  • ⏱Route 53 is usually somewhere in the middle of the pack on performance tests, e.g. the SolveDNS reports.

Route 53 Tips

  • 🔹Know about Route 53’s “alias” records:
    • Route 53 supports all the standard DNS record types, but note that alias resource record sets are not standard part of DNS, but a specific Route 53 feature. (It’s available from other DNS providers too, but each provider has a different name for it.)
    • Aliases are like an internal name (a bit like a CNAME) that is resolved internally on the server side. For example, traditionally you could have a CNAME to the DNS name of a CLB or ALB, but it’s often better to make an alias to the same load balancer. The effect is the same, but in the latter case, externally, all a client sees is the target the record points to.
    • It’s often wise to use alias record as an alternative to CNAMEs, since they can be updated instantly with an API call, without worrying about DNS propagation.
    • You can use them for CLBs/ALBs or any other resource where AWS supports it.
    • Somewhat confusingly, you can have CNAME and A aliases, depending on the type of the target.
    • Because aliases are extensions to regular DNS records, if exported, the output zone file will have additional non-standard “ALIAS” lines in it.
  • Latency-based routing allows users around the globe to be automatically directed to the nearest AWS region where you are running, so that latency is reduced.
  • Understand that domain registration and DNS management (hosted zones) are two separate Route 53 services. When you buy/transfer a domain, Route 53 automatically assigns four name servers to it (e.g. Route 53 also offers to automatically create a hosted zone for DNS management, but you are not required do your DNS management in the same account or even in Route 53; you just need to create an NS record pointing to the servers assigned to your domain in Route 53.
  • One use case would be to put your domain registration (very mission critical) in a bastion account while managing the hosted zones within another account which is accessible by your applications.

Route 53 Gotchas and Limitations

  • 🔸Private Hosted Zone will only respond to DNS queries that originate from within a VPC. As a result Route53 will not respond to request made via a VPN or Direct connect. To get around this you will need to implement Hybrid Cloud DNS Solutions or use the Simple AD provided IP addresses to query the hosted zone.