Constellix Lab: 5 Minute Lessons July 11, 2017

How Does Constellix Work?

When it comes to Internet services, it can be difficult to see how they are working for you… especially backend services like DNS management. You might not see it, but DNS solutions, like Constellix, influence how people access websites and applications all the time.

It happens faster than you can blink your eye. FYI, you can blink your eye between 100 and 500 milliseconds. Constellix typically answers DNS queries in 30 milliseconds or less. To put this in perspective, let’s look at how this affects web performance.

According to Google, 53% of users will abandon a site or web page if it doesn’t load within 3 seconds.

That’s 3000 milliseconds to resolve your DNS, the DNS of all requests on your site (web fonts, plugins, etc.), and then all of your DOM (HTML, CSS, and scripts). If a quarter or even an eighth of that time is taken up by DNS resolution, you’re most likely not hitting that 3-second mark.

For example, take a look at our website. It loads in 2.26 seconds. The DOM alone takes up 2.1 seconds of the load time. That leaves very little room for network latency.

Let’s look at a site that doesn’t use Constellix.

bad dns load time

Even though the DOM load time is half of the first site we looked at, the DNS resolution time of 770 ms nearly pushes this site very close to the 3-second barrier.

How It Works

Let’s take a look at what happens during those 30 milliseconds of optimal DNS resolution time… If you want, you can follow along with a test domain.

First, you will need to add your domain to the Constellix name servers. There are dozens of ways to do this, but we’re going to do it the quick way.

On the dashboard, click the Add Domain button.

Enter the domain you want to add and click save. You will be prompted to update your name servers at your registrar (this is the organization you registered/purchased your domain).

After you’ve updated your registrar, you can test to see if your domain is live on Constellix by using the dig command line tool.

Or you can use a free online tool like Sonar Lite DNS Trace.

Psst! You can see that results like the one above in the app by clicking on the links like this one.

So what does this mean? Your domain is now hosted on one of the fastest networks in the world. It doesn’t matter where in the world someone queries your domain, it will be answered 100% of the time and in the blink of an eye.

Constellix uses an Anycast backbone to answer incoming queries using nearby name servers.

Anycast explained

In the diagram above, the blue name servers are the Constellix name servers. They are authoritative for your DNS information and are responsible for answering the resolving name server with your current information. Every time you make a change to your records, these changes are instantly pushed to the dozens of name servers in the Constellix network.

You can test this using the GeoIP tool in Sonar Lite.

Since I am in Washington DC, my queries are answered by the name server in New York City.

Constellix’s Anycast network is also the reason behind its 100% uptime history and how it’s able to ensure 100% uptime for all of its clients. Each point of presence (PoP) like New York is made up of multiple name servers. Each name server hosts as a copy of your DNS information. Now multiply that by the 16 name servers in the Constellix network. That’s a lot of copies!

This means that even if one of our name servers or even an entire data center were to be unavailable, your queries would still get answered as fast and reliably as before.

Next week, we’ll get into how you can leverage the Constellix network to influence routing decisions! Stay tuned…