Nominum Helps Sun Out of a DNS BIND

Partnership brings carrier-grade DNS to Solaris 10.

 By Sean Michael Kerner
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Sun Microsystems is teaming up with Nominum to offer an integrated carrier grade DNS and DHCP solution. The partners claim their offering bests that of the industry standard open source BIND solution for DNS.

DNS (define) and DHCP (define) are the cornerstones of IP connectivity, with DNS providing IP lookup and DHCP providing dynamic IP addressing.

BIND (Berkeley Internet Name Domain) has been the industry standard for DNS for many years and is included in almost all Linux and Unix offerings, including Sun Solaris.

The current branch of BIND is BIND 9.3.x, which first debuted in 2004.

The Sun Nominum partnership will see Nominum's DNS and DHCP paired with Solaris 10 running on Sun hardware. The paired offering is being targeted at telco and carrier networks and is intended to improve performance and scalability over a stock BIND deployment running on generic "whitebox" hardware.

Tom Tovar, vice president of worldwide sales and business development at Nominum, noted that as the world moves to increasing amounts of IP, there is a corresponding increasing amount of pressure on DNS.

There are two DNS offerings and one DHCP offering in the Nominum lineup. Nominum claims that its Foundation Caching Name Server (CNS) is, "the world's fastest caching name server," with the ability to handle four times the query traffic that BIND supports on equivalent hardware.

Nominum Foundation Authoritative Name Server (ANS) is a dedicated authoritative name server and is claimed to be, "the most scalable authoritative name server available." On the DHCP side of things, Nominum's Dynamic Configuration Server (DCS) is tailored for carrier grade DHCP scalability.

"Compared to BIND we have latency advantages that head and shoulders above," Tovar told internetnews.com. "We can respond to queries in a millisecond whereas BIND can't even come near that."

Neither Sun nor Nominum are strangers to BIND. Both firms helped to underwrite the development of BIND version 9 at the Internet Systems Consortium (ISC), which manages BIND development.

The relationship between Nominum and BIND is even closer. Paul Vixie founder and current president of the ISC, explained that Nominum was originally founded by people from ISC.

"It has grown quite a lot since then and is now run by a normal VC-chosen board of directors," Vixie told internetnews.com. "Nominum has done work under contract to ISC. For example, the original implementation of BIND9 was done by Nominum, whose employees at that time were mostly ex-ISC."

There is, however, no shared code between Nominum's DNS and ISC's BIND.

"We do not share any code with BIND. Our solution is a commercial grade separate and distinct software package," Tovar stated. "We know where BIND's limitations are and we've developed a solution that not only solves those problems, but also provides additional high availability and scalability."

Vixie admitted that Nominum's ANS and CNS have a higher top-end than BIND9, since they're able to make performance-related tradeoffs that BIND can't due to its open source and portability goals.

That's not to say BIND isn't enough for many enterprises.

"It's a rare enterprise whose needs are beyond BIND's performance levels," Vixie told internetnews.com.

The difference between BIND and Nominum also has to do with being open versus being proprietary.

"ISC is a non-profit public benefit corporation whose products (BIND, DHCP) and services (f-root) are freely available," Vixie explained. "Nominum is a for-profit company whose products and services are proprietary and licensed for a fee."

Both companies offer fee-based support for their products, as well.

According to Vixie, the ISC and Nominum aren't necessarily competitors, either.

"It's a rare enterprise or ISP or telco who thinks of us as competitors or would consider evaluating both companies' products," Vixie said. "Those who want open source come to ISC. Those who want traditional commercial software go to Nominum.

"ISC considers Nominum a supporter and fellow traveler, and we work together with them on issues affecting the industry, such as IETF RFC documents."

Article courtesy of internetnews.com

This article was originally published on Mar 27, 2006
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