The VoIP Peering Puzzle�Part 14: Nominum Navitas

Nominum harnesses some deep Internet name-management expertise in aid of global IP communications.

By Mark A. Miller | Posted Feb 7, 2007
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Nominum, Inc., is a privately held company headquartered in Redwood City, California, that specializes in network naming and addressing solutions to power the world's largest always-on networks. Nominum's market includes different carrier segments, such as broadband access providers, Internet service providers, hosting providers, fixed-line telecom companies, wireless providers, cable multi-service operators, wholesale carriers, and similar organizations. The company's goal is to provide solutions that prepare networks for future growth and enhance resiliency to attacks and traffic spikes.

Nominum's products were developed by some of the same software architects that have designed key Internet technologies, including Paul Mockapetris who developed the Domain Name System (DNS). From this basis, Nominum has developed a suite of products that enhance DNS and Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) operation. These include:

  • Authoritative Name Server (ANS), designed for organizations that need an "always-on" DNS, that host large numbers of resource records, or that have to support many DNS zones. The ANS has extremely high performance—as measured in query responses per second—scales to millions of zones and many millions of names, supports the latest DNS Security (DNSSEC) specifications (see http://www.dnssec.net), and can be remotely configured and managed.
  • Caching Name Server (CNS), designed to deliver DNS query caching performance and high availability. ISPs and other Internet-centric enterprises use CNS to reduce the cost of delivering DNS services, while improving the robustness and quality of their networks.
  • Dynamic Configuration Server (DCS), designed as a commercial-grade DHCP server to offer flexible, scalable, and highly available DHCP services. Through DHCP, desktop and laptop computers, VoIP telephones, and other devices obtain key configuration information that allows them to connect to the Internet. The DCS augments the basic DHCP operation with a high-performance architecture, interfaces that allow integration with other systems, and simplified management capabilities.

The fourth product in Nominum's suite is called Navitas, an IP-application routing directory for next generation networks. Navitas is an ENUM-based facility capable of integrating subscriber and routing data from a number of sources, including service bureaus, local number portability databases, and VoIP peering partners. The product leverages Nominum's strength in DNS technology, plus a solid background in the ENUM standards, to create a highly scalable and flexible directory for routing IP-based applications that require links between services and subscriber names or telephone numbers. The Navitas solution supports both VoIP and advanced services.

The Navitas architecture consists of three functional layers.

The first layer consists of Open Application Interfaces, which support rapid and effective integration with a wide variety of systems. These include: a Simple Object Access Protocol interface (SOAP/XML), enabling product and process integration using the Extensible Markup Language (XML); an Extensible Provisioning Protocol (EPP) implementation, which supports bulk and incremental updates to the Navitas server; the Nominum Command Channel Protocol, which is common to all of the Nominum servers (ANS, CNS and DCS) and specifies message formats for communicating with the Nominum software; and Service Bureau Connectors for loading subscriber information from standard industry sources, including NeuStar's SIP-IX.

The second layer is the Core Engine, which includes the use of specialized data structures plus a patent-pending data compression system that has been optimized for the Naming Authority Pointer (NAPTR) data that supports ENUM. As a result of these developments, Navitas is able to handle very large data volumes, which are in excess of hundreds of millions of records.

The third layer is the Protocol Interfaces, which include DNS and Dynamic DNS (DDNS).

Nominum claims some very impressive performance statistics for Navitas, including: a query response time under one millisecond, throughput of tens of thousands of queries per second, and updates greater than 10,000 records per minute. Navitas runs on a number of industry-standard platforms, including Red Hat Linux, SuSE Linux, and Free BSD on Intel platforms, plus Sun Solaris 8, 9, and 10 on Sun SPARC platforms, and Sun Solaris 10 on x86 platforms.

Further details on the Nominum architecture and addressing services are available at www.nominum.com. Our next tutorial will continue our examination of some of the commercial enterprises that are offering ENUM and other directory services.

Copyright Acknowledgement: © 2007 DigiNet Corporation ®, All Rights Reserved


Author's Biography
Mark A. Miller, P.E. is President of DigiNet Corporation®, a Denver-based consulting engineering firm. He is the author of many books on networking technologies, including Voice over IP Technologies, and Internet Technologies Handbook, both published by John Wiley & Sons.

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