DNS Made Easy vs Constellix

January 18, 2019

Both Constellix and DNS Made Easy share the same functionality for DNS Query Analytics and the Global Traffic Director (GTD); which was pioneered by DNS Made Easy over a decade ago as the most affordable global load balancing service.



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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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DNS Made Easy vs Constellix

Four years ago, we decided to launch a new DNS management service, Constellix. Instantly, we got a lot of backlash from our customers wondering why we didn’t just revamp DNS Made Easy.

The thing is, DNS Made Easy (DNSME from here on out) is renowned as “it just works” or “it makes DNS easy”… and we like that.

From the beginning, we designed DNSME with accessibility in mind. We wanted it to be simple enough that anyone who needed to manage their own DNS could do so without having to read lots of documentation or talk to a human… and it worked!

It worked so well, that we’ve stayed in business for over 15 years. We attribute the bulk of our success to our ability to maintain the philosophy that motivated us to create our service in the in the first place… keep DNS as simple as possible.

Although, not everyone thinks the same as us. Over time, the DNS industry shifted away from simplicity and more towards optimization.

This new way of thinking contradicted our core values, but we still wanted to embrace the new technologies that were coming to the market.

We just had to do it under a different name.

So we created something new. Something that we could design from the ground up that could execute these exciting new techniques that leverage the DNS for network optimization. And that’s when Constellix was born.

Constellix takes the best of DNS Made Easy’s network and functionality and then offers opportunities for users to expand on that foundation; like our intelligent routing services that can dynamically update users’ configurations to better handle current network conditions.

Sounds awesome, right? But maybe you’re one of those people that will never touch those services. That’s okay because Constellix wasn’t built just for enterprise users or what we call “power users”.

Constellix has much of the same “easy to use”, no support needed, “set it and forget it” features that you loved from DNS Made Easy.

For example, we have a tool called the New Domain Wizard that walks you through setting up your domains step by step and imports your existing records automatically.

With all of this in mind. We ask that as you continue through this article, know that that you don’t need to understand how the complicated stuff works, just know it’s on offer if you want to expand in the future.

Network

Constellix shares the same network footprint as DNSME made up of 16 points of presence located at critical peering points around the world.

Just like DNSME, Constellix exclusively partners with Tier 1 data and bandwidth providers; as well as built-in DDoS protection and upstream scrubbing facilities.

All these similarities may cause you to believe that they are the same network, but Constellix has its own set of nameservers that operate independently of DNSME’s.

Functionality

Both Constellix and DNS Made Easy share the same functionality for DNS Query Analytics and the Global Traffic Director (GTD); which was pioneered by DNS Made Easy over a decade ago as the most affordable global load balancing service.

But that’s about it for similarities…

Constellix Advantage

Network

Constellix is supported by a second network dedicated to monitoring clients’ online resources that we call Sonar. The Sonar network consists of over 100 monitoring nodes and is still growing.

Whereas, the DNS Made Easy monitoring network has only four monitoring nodes.

Functionality

Global Traffic Director

Constellix’s GTD implementation is more intuitive. Instead of creating a record and applying a region to it (as you would in DNS Made Easy and other providers) when you enable GTD it will split up your domain into six zone files.

You can toggle between the tabs to create different regional records.

GTD Pricing

There is no flat fee for GTD. Instead, we will charge for each domain with GTD enabled… in addition to other monthly charges like queries.

Depending on your usage, Constellix GTD could be significantly cheaper than DNS Made Easy. Build your own quote with our pricing calculator and find out.

You can read more about our pricing model later on in this article.

Staged Changes

Since we started from scratch, we were able to completely redesign the experience of creating and updating records.

You’ll notice that when you make a change in Constellix, those changes are not pushed live immediately. Instead, they are “staged”. After you finish making your desired changes, you are required to commit your changes in order to make them live.

This allows you to simultaneously add and delete a record of the same name without any downtime in between the deletion and creation.

When you commit your changes, they will be instantly propagated to all of your Constellix nameservers.

Monitoring Services

The Sonar monitoring services can be used as a standalone service or can be integrated with Constellix DNS configurations such as failover and load balancing.

Sonar supports monitoring over DNS, UDP, TCP, HTTP, and HTTPS.

Whereas, DNS Made Easy monitoring services can only be used in Failover configurations and only for IP addresses.

Constellix also has a Real-User Monitoring service, or RUM for short. RUM is a more advanced kind of network monitoring that is able to capture real user experiences directly from users’ browsers. Whereas, traditional monitoring checks simulate user experiences from the perspective of data centers, not actual browsers.

Failover

Constellix supports failover for A, AAAA, CNAME, and ANAME records. As opposed to DNS Made Easy, which only supports failover for A records.

Constellix failover is highly configurable. You can choose:

  • Which locations you want to monitor from. Maximum of 14 locations.
  • How often your resources’ health is checked: from 30 seconds to one-day monitoring intervals.

Failover also comes with:

  • Detailed logging with historical comparison
  • Traceroute and visual traceroute in a notification report
  • Advanced check verification

You can read more about the differences and watch a demo of Constellix Failover on our blog.

Failover Pricing

We don’t charge anything for Failover configurations. Instead, we will only charge you for the queries and monitoring services used each billing period. If this is confusing, jump ahead to the pricing section of this article.

Load Balancing

Constellix tackles load balancing very differently from DNS Made Easy and other providers. Let’s start with a basic round-robin configuration, so you can see what I mean.

Traditionally, you would create multiple records with the same name, but point each record to a different IP address or FQDN.

Constellix combines all these records into a single configuration that you can apply to your record. We call this configuration a “record pool”.

Think of a pool as a group of records. A record pool cycles through multiple IP addresses in a round robin fashion. Like this:

Record pools scale much better than traditional round-robin since you only have to make the pool configuration once and just apply it to different records. Pools are created at the account level, so they can be applied to multiple domains within the same account.

In the future, if you update a pool it will also update each instance of that pool in the records it was applied to.

Here is a quick overview of the different load balancing services offered by Constellix. For a more detailed explanation, check out this article.

Weighted Round Robin

Apply different weights to each endpoint in a pool.

Baked in Failover

All pools have health monitoring and failover built in. Just create a monitoring check in our Sonar monitoring application and you can instantly integrate the health check with your record pool.

Latency Load Balancing (ITO)

Our integrated monitoring checks also log to response times of the resources in your pool. You can enable ITO, our latency load balancing service, and we will only return the fastest responding resource(s) in your pool each time it is queried.

GeoDNS

If you’ve dabbled with the GTD or any kind of GSLB (Global Server Load Balancing), then you’ve been exposed to GeoDNS before.

GeoDNS is a general term for any kind of DNS service that can alter which record is returned based on the location of the querying client.

IP Filters

IP Filters are rules you can apply your records. If a user meets the requirement(s) of the filter, they will be answered with that record. Otherwise, they will be answered with the World/Default.

Filters can be created for: regions, countries, cities, IP addresses (IPv4 and IPv6), ASN (Autonomous System Network) of the resolving name server, or EDNS client subnet.

GeoProximity

GeoProximity is a record configuration that automatically points the querying client to the resource closest to them.

You can create GeoProximity rules for different regions, countries, cities, or even geographical coordinates.

Use Cases

You can use Constellix GeoDNS services in combination with load balancing or failover to create some pretty cool configurations:

  • Build your own CDN service
  • Optimize routing for different networks or regions
  • Build a firewall at the DNS level that allows you to block malicious traffic before it even reaches your servers
  • Combine GTD with any other GeoDNS service to improve query resolution accuracy
  • Geo load balancing or GSLB

Secondary DNS Provider

Constellix currently supports Secondary DNS with three providers:

  • Google Cloud DNS
  • Amazon Web Services Route 53
  • Microsoft Azure

We have a limited number of secondary providers because we only allow secondary DNS service with a vendor that we’ve integrated with. That way, you only have to create your configurations once and we’ll automatically create them at the secondary provider for you.

If you require Secondary DNS with other providers,  we recommend using DNS Made Easy. But keep in mind, you will have to maintain all updates at both providers since DNS Made Easy doesn’t offer integrations with other providers.

Multi-Cloud/CDN/DDoS Management

Now that you have an idea of the kinds of services Constellix offers, you can start to see some of the use cases that it was designed for. Specifically, multi-cloud management.

In the last year alone, we’ve released two new features that make multi-cloud management easier and can actually improve load times drastically.

Latency Load Balancing

We touched on this earlier, but you can actually use our Latency load balancing service (that we call ITO) to easily manage your multi-cloud architecture. You can configure it yourself or use our automated multi-CDN service.

Traffic Steering

Our traffic steering solution expands on ITO and uses RUM data to inform routing decisions. Since RUM data gives us a lot more information than just a user’s location, we can create custom configurations that are tailored for each user’s network. You can read more about how traffic steering works on our website.

Other Features

  • Version control with rollback
  • Advanced search
  • Bulk modification (change almost anything in multiple records with one click)
  • Domain tagging (give your domains unique identifiers that can be searched for or used for bulk modifications)

Pricing

Rigid pricing tiers are a thing of the past. That’s why Constellix uses a pay per usage model. It keeps your costs low and rewards you with baked-in discounts when you buy in bulk. And you’ll never incur overages because there aren’t any limits!

Since our services are billed on a pay-per-usage model, you will need to have a general idea of your query usage and number of domains in order to get an accurate pricing estimate. You can estimate how much your monthly bill will be with our pricing calculator.

What Does this Mean for DNSME?

DNS Made Easy isn’t going anywhere. We are still maintaining and supporting the product… and we intend to for a long time.

We are shifting our development efforts towards Constellix, which means DNS Made Easy won’t see new functionality as often as you’re used to.

But on the plus side, we are constantly rolling out new functionality to Constellix!

Coming Soon to Constellix

  • RUM traffic steering (currently in beta)
  • DNSSEC
  • This year, we plan to turn up our first nodes in South America and expand our network in Africa and China

Still unsure if Constellix is right for you? Schedule a meeting with one of our sales representatives and we’ll help you make the best decision for your organization. If you are a current DNS Made Easy member, ask us for an account review and we’ll see how much money you could save by switching to Constellix.


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