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AWS shops said a new visual interface, called Amazon Route 53 Traffic Flow, is a boon, as the Amazon DNS service competes against third-party products that offer similar features at a higher price.
Amazon Route 53 is a domain name system (DNS) service, which translates domain names into IP addresses so computers on the Internet can talk to one another. Amazon Route 53 Traffic Flow, added last week, allows users to assign traffic-routing policies that determine how end users are routed to application endpoints through a new visual interface.
Route 53 has previously offered what Amazon calls Geo DNS, which routes traffic to the nearest geographical endpoint to the end user, as well as latency-based routing. Traffic Flow offers a visual interface in which users can drag and drop elements of traffic routes into a graphical diagram for easier management. Amazon Route 53 Traffic Flow also includes a versioning feature that allows rollback to previous versions of routing policies.
"The new Route 53 features give any AWS user global traffic management in a visual and easy way to work with complex configurations," said Mario Cruz, director at Watsco Ventures, an HVAC distributor in Miami.
AWS shops that already use Route 53 were almost universally enthusiastic about the new addition.
"We will definitely use this," said James Young, CTO for VidRoll LLC, a video advertising firm in Santa Monica, Calif. "For ad-tech, shaping and directing traffic in this day and age, where anyone can rent botnets, is crucial."
Amazon Route 53 challenges competitive products
In general, Amazon Route 53 appeals to AWS shops, given its integrations with existing AWS offerings.
"Route 53 adds a lot more value when used in conjunction with other AWS offerings, such as Elastic Load Balancing," said Alec Peterson, CTO at SparkPost, an email service provider based on AWS. "Once you're in the AWS ecosystem and have decided to go that way, additional offerings within the ecosystem are very compelling."
Still, Traffic Flow puts a new interface on features that competitive offerings already had. The functionality, in general, is referred to as Global Server Load Balancing (GSLB). Amazon archrivals Google and Microsoft also offer cloud-based DNS with GSLB. Google's Cloud DNS, however, does not come with a drag-and-drop interface, but relies on a command-line interface (CLI) or API. Microsoft's Azure DNS is paired with its Traffic Manager product for Traffic Flow-like functionality.
One Route 53 competitor, Cedexis, also has offered GSLB functionality in its product previously, which is sold through Rackspace, IBM SoftLayer and Pivotal as a service.
"Cedexis has been one of the best services handling [DNS] today," said Joe Emison, CTO and founder of BuildFax Inc., based in Asheville, N.C. "But Cedexis isn't super cheap."
Cedexis is sold as a service starting at $250 per month. Enterprise customers pay negotiated prices that can range from thousands of dollars per month to tens of thousands of dollars per month, according to a Cedexis spokesman.
Cedexis officials were also quick to point out differentiators for its products over Route 53. For example, Route 53, in contrast to Cedexis, does not have out-of-the-box integrations for application performance management software to make traffic-routing decisions, though users can implement their own custom logic on top of Route 53 using the API, CLI and software development kits available for it.
However, Cedexis doesn't offer a drag-and-drop visual interface for mapping traffic flows. Instead, it offers guided wizards, where users fill in configuration information in form-based fields and Cedexis provisions the service.
Still, pricing for some of these products can be harder to compare than features.
Amazon Route 53 Traffic Flow is priced at $50 per policy record, per month. A policy record represents the application of an Amazon Route 53 Traffic Flow policy to a specific DNS name, and typical uses require a single DNS name to be managed.
Small and medium-sized business (SMB) packages for another competitive offering, Neustar Inc.'s UltraDNS, are priced starting at $30 per month for up to 50,000 queries. A query is a request to the DNS server to resolve a DNS name to an IP address. The largest SMB package for UltraDNS is capped at 2 million queries for $90 per month. UltraDNS Enterprise Edition starts at a billion queries per month, but pricing is not publicly available.
Amazon, on the other hand, charges 40 cents per month for the first billion queries handled by Route 53 servers, and 20 cents per million queries after that.
Google also charges 40 cents per million queries for the first billion queries, and 20 cents per million queries after that. Azure DNS charges 20 cents per million queries for the first billion, then 10 cents per million queries after that.
Amazon Route 53 and its cloud services competitors also charge by hosted zones, which are collections of resources managed together under the same domain name. Route 53 charges for hosted zones at a rate of 50 cents per hosted zone for the first 25, and 10 cents per month for additional hosted zones. Microsoft charges 25 cents per zone, per month for the first 25, and 5 cents per month for additional hosted zones. Google charges 20 cents per month, per zone for the first 25, and 10 cents per hosted zone, per month for additional hosted zones.
Google and Microsoft don't price according to the concept of a policy record, but Microsoft's Traffic Manager adds a cost of 54 cents per million queries for the first billion DNS queries per month, and 37.5 cents per million queries thereafter, plus separate charges for health checks internal to Azure at 36 cents per Azure endpoint, per month and external health checks at a rate of 54 cents per external endpoint, per month.
UltraDNS enterprise package pricing is not listed publicly, but professional support services for enterprise packages start at $750 per month, according to Neustar's website.
Neustar representatives did not comment on enterprise pricing for UltraDNS as of press time.
Amazon declined to comment for this story.
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