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The Akamai Blog

Smart DNS for the New Network Edge

This is the first in a series of blog posts that will discuss how smart DNS resolvers can enhance ongoing ISP and MNO network transformation efforts such as the transition to 5G, better integration of Wi-Fi, and new network designs that optimize the edge to improve service delivery and network efficiency.

People depend on the internet for just about everything: interacting, learning, transacting, traveling, and a multitude of purely leisure activities. At the same time, the wireless evolution to 4G -- and soon 5G and Wi-Fi everywhere -- has given birth to an era of connected cars, smart sensors, and a multitude of other "things," which will grow rapidly and expand in utility and scope. Leading network providers see new market opportunities with new business models to monetize new services that combine networks and commerce, including:

  • Immersive gaming
  • Enriched sports and entertainment
  • Augmented and assisted reality
  • Advanced personal assistants
  • Enhanced retail experiences
  • Video optimization and acceleration

These new services require intensive interaction between devices and networks that will tax tomorrow's infrastructure and drive a new round of network transformation. Service providers can blend new wireless technologies like 5G, LTE enhancements, and Wi-Fi to improve throughput, latency, connectivity density, and mobility. New operational models and processes open up opportunities to improve network efficiency and service delivery. Providers with fixed assets have even more options and similar incentives to optimize their networks.

Network architecture will also be important. Sending data to centralized clouds won't always be the right choice. There's widespread acknowledgement that provider networks need to move beyond basic data transport and enable data processing distributed closer to devices so new services will always be fast, available, resilient, and efficient. A smart network edge is compatible with services already envisioned and paves the way for next-generation services with even more demanding requirements.

A "Life on the edge" article published in 2018 by The Economist made a strong case for the importance of edge services, with the title "The era of the cloud's total dominance is drawing to a close." It suggests traditional clouds will be supplemented with services at the network edge because tens of billions of connected devices will require faster responses and more localized storage and processing. The same theme has been heavily evangelized by industry seer Peter Levine at Andreessen Horowitz, a leading venture capital firm with a strong track record anticipating industry change.

Efforts to build smart edge services need to incorporate smart recursive Domain Name System infrastructure (rDNS, also called "DNS resolvers" or just "resolvers"). DNS resolvers have undergone a substantial evolution over the past few years. They're moving from discrete servers doing simple name resolution to platforms that integrate:

  • Streamed threat intelligence and fine-grained policies to manage traffic and enable services
  • Powerful data management capabilities to support operations and security
  • Automation to enable more dynamic configuration

This series of blog posts will offer insights into how a smart DNS resolution strategy can enhance the new network edge by:

  • Delivering the best subscriber experience
  • Optimizing content delivery
  • Supporting emerging requirements for DNS encryption
  • Enabling new security defenses and services
  • Managing and controlling query traffic
  • Taking advantage of DNS-based threat intelligence
  • Gathering useful operational and security data
  • Simplifying and reducing the operational burden

We look forward to engaging on these topics.