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Route53 vs Constellix - Alternative

February 27, 2018
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When it comes to DNS, there's nothing we love more - except DNS management. And maybe Secondary DNS. Or Failover. Even anomaly detection. Oh who are we kidding, if it's even remotely close to the topic of DNS, we got you covered!

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Need help figuring out which managed DNS provider is right for you? This week, we are pitting Constellix and Route53 against each other. We did the hard work for you, finding out each providers’ strengths, weaknesses, and of course the big question… which is better.


In a nutshell… Route53 is a DNS Management service and is a part of AWS (Amazon Web Services). According to product reviews and forums, Route53 is most commonly used by startups because it offers an affordable, fast, and easy way to provision servers and create routing policies. Most startups can’t afford to host and maintain their own infrastructure. Let alone, have the time to research and cut deals with hardware and bandwidth providers.

AWS Advantages

Rotue 53 DNS Pricing

If using other AWS services, some Route53 services cost effective. You also have to deal with fewer invoices since you are using multiple services within the AWS constellation.

Route 53 Visual Editor

Route53 has a pretty cool visual editor that makes creating complex routing policies simpler. The routing policies you can combine are:

  • Failover
  • Geolocation
  • Latency
  • Multi-value answer
  • Weighted

The visual editor turns complex routing logic into simple flow charts. For example, say you want all users in Europe to be answered by the fastest web server in the region. For all users outside of Europe, you want them routed to your web server in Ashburn. However, if the Ashburn web server fails to respond, then you want traffic to be routed to your web server in San Francisco.

Traffic flow example

The thing is, you can create these diagrams with a myriad of applications for free (the above diagram was created with Gliffy). Route53 takes it to the next level and automatically creates the appropriate records and rules to turn your chart into a policy you can apply to your domains. These policies can also be used as templates that can be applied to other zones/domains.

Route 53 DNS Disadvantages

Here are some of the most common complaints about Route53:

  • More expensive, especially when using Route53 with non-AWS services/endpoints.
  • The visual editor is expensive. Every record you apply a visual-editor policy to is $50 /month on top of the cost for queries. That means, if you create on visual-editor policy and apply it to four records, you'll be paying $200 / month plus the cost of queries. 
  • If combined with other AWS services, you’re resting your business on a single point of failure.
  • Rudimentary query logging.
  • No DNS analytics outside of usage reports.  
  • No integrations with third-party providers.
  • Vanity DNS is only available through their API.
  • No way to apply bulk modifications to records.
  • If you want to delete a domain, you have to delete all the records first.

Constellix DNS

Constellix is a DNS management service offering GeoDNS services and integrated network monitoring. It was developed by the same engineering team behind DNS Made Easy, the industry leader for speed and reliability.

DNS Advantage Compared to Route 53

Traffic Optimization

Constellix offers a service similar to Route53’s latency-based routing policy, but with vastly more options for customization. Constellix’s traffic optimization service, also known as ITO, allows you to create regional record pools. That means, in each region (Asia-Pac, Europe, US East, West, or Oceania) you can specify a set of endpoints you want to send your traffic to. When you enable ITO, traffic will only be sent to the fastest responding endpoint(s). You can also add weights, just like weighted round robin, so more traffic is sent to the endpoint with greater capacity.

Advanced GeoDNS and GeoIP Services

Like Route53, Constellix offers both GeoProximity and GeoDNS services. But Constellix takes it a step further with IP Filters, which allow you to target (or block) users based on their location, ASN, EDNS subnet, IP address, or IP version. Route53 is currently limited to only targeting by geographical coordinates and countries. Constellix also offers a regional traffic director service called GTD, which operates similarly to its predecessor --DNS Made Easy’s GTD service. When enabled, GTD ensures user’s queries are always answered by nameservers in their current region. Since GTD bases its decisions on users’ actual locations, not a database lookup, it is more accurate and is able to correct wrong resolutions caused IP allocation.

Secondary DNS - “Works Well with Others”

Probably the chief complaint about Route53 is how difficult it is to work with outside providers. Let’s say you want to use more than one DNS provider for a Secondary DNS configuration. Route53 offers no integrations with other providers, so you would have to update DNS records through both vendors’ control panels every time you wanted to make an update. Constellix offers integrations with the top four cloud-based DNS providers: Google Cloud DNS, Microsoft Azure, DNS Made Easy, and Route53. Although Constellix can import records from Route53, there is no complementary service in Route53’s backend to accept data from Constellix (or other providers).

DNS Monitoring Built for Network Admins

Constellix offers a vastly superior suite of network monitoring tools. The Constellix monitoring service is more comparable to vendors that exclusively offer monitoring services, not as a supplement to their DNS management services. Outside of basic Health Checks (which is about as far as Route53 gets), Constellix provides detailed charts and tables designed to help you quickly troubleshoot latency and upstream provider issues. Constellix recently introduced a visual traceroute tool that illustrates all the hops between your end-users and an endpoint.

Query Analytics

Earlier this year, Constellix (and DNS Made Easy) were the first provider to offer truly real-time query logging as part of their DNS Analytics platform. You can see where your domain’s queries are coming from as they hit your nameservers. This has become an invaluable tool for identifying and troubleshooting configuration errors, DNS-based attacks and evaluating request loads on infrastructure.

Best DNS Network Speed

Constellix is consistently ranked as one of the fastest DNS providers in the industry according to multiple third-party monitoring services.

Advanced DNS 

Integrated CDN, DDoS, and WAF services. Users will be able to use Constellix CDN services on their own, or in tandem with other providers. Constellix will also offer one-click solutions to enable DDoS protection for their web assets and customizable WAF services.

Other Perks:

  • Multi-user friendly. Create a master account with as many sub-users as you want, each with customizable permissions.
  • Bulk modifications are easy with the advanced search and modification features.
  • Record templates allow you to apply record configurations and rules to multiple domains.
  • Vanity DNS is very easy to setup through the GUI or API.

Possible Disadvantages

  • No visual editor. But! You can use a free or paid service like Gliffy to create your own flow charts for complex routing policies. It takes a little more time, since the records are not automatically generated for you, but it can save you hundreds (even thousands) of dollars a year.
  • No domain registration services.

Route 53 Compatible Provider - Constellix

  • Services can be combined together, like Failover, load balancing, and GeoDNS routing policies.
  • Roll back changes and version control.
  • Both providers operate on Anycast backbones with 15+ points of presence.
  • Significantly faster than application-level and third-party network load balancers (like ELB).

Want to know how each provider's service offerings stack up against each other? We made it easy:


DNS Comparison Verdict

Constellix makes up for its lack of other cloud-based services with robust integrations with third-party providers for CDN, WAF, and DDoS services. Constellix also offers more diverse network monitoring and query analytics tools. But the biggest perk is the pricing. Constellix has consistently lower pricing with even greater discounts for buying in bulk. The price differences are even more apparent when you look at the costs of using Route53 with non-AWS services. The one thing Route53 has over Constellix is its visual routing tool. But! It is so astronomically costly, it just doesn't make sense to invest the resources in it. Instead, take the time to diagram your routing policies and manually create those records. The cost of time and labor is only a fraction of Route53's cost for the visual editor. Also, if you find a routing configuration you like, Constellix lets you turn it into a template that you can apply to other domains. Templates cost a fraction of a penny and can save you hours of labor.Route53 does have its merits, as it is still the golden standard for startups and growing businesses. However, issues do begin to arise (mainly cost) as you scale up. Route53 is also the preferable choice when working with other AWS services, as it offers tools to automate tasks between services like provisioning servers when you create a new DNS record. However, keeping everything under the same roof does increase the risk of outages and service disruptions. Before you make your decision, invest some time in testing out each service.

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