GCP 101: What is Cloud DNS?

IT infrastructure isn’t the only thing you can migrate from a legacy environment to Google Cloud Platform. Have you considered the impact of using legacy servers for hosting your domain name system (DNS) versus those of a cloud provider?

Domain name systems are hierarchical databases that store information to turn user-friendly domain names, such as onixnet.com, into numeric IP addresses. These IP addresses function on the internet in the same way a phone number works. It gets users to the right destination on the web. 

DNS makes your applications easily available to users without requiring them to remember the string of numbers. Some organizations choose to manage their own DNS services, but if you are in the cloud, you can streamline that effort.

surfing the webWhen you use your cloud provider’s managed DNS service, you get powerful redundancy and networks that span geographically diverse regions. That means better performance and resiliency. 

Google Cloud offers this through its Cloud DNS service, the subject of our latest installment of GCP 101. In this series, we’ve already talked about Google Cloud Storage, building a data pipeline and other key GCP services. So let’s now answer the question, “What is Cloud DNS and why does it make sense to use it?”

What is Cloud DNS?

Cloud DNS provides users with a high-performance, resilient and global DNS service that makes it easier to manage your applications while giving users easy access to these applications. 

It all runs on Google Cloud’s trusted infrastructure rather than your on-premise or hosted data center server and provides you with easy lookup of your authoritative name servers.

In more technical terms, as described by Google Cloud, Cloud DNS “acts as an authoritative DNS server for public zones that are visible to the internet, or for private zones that are visible only within your network.” Each zone is a container of DNS records and allows for more granular, administrative control of DNS components.

Cloud DNS provides users with a high-performance, resilient and global DNS service that makes it easier to manage your applications while giving users easy access to these applications.

The way Cloud DNS works differs between public and private zones. Here’s a look at how they are delineated.

Public zones

As noted in the above-quoted description of Cloud DNS from Google, public zones are visible on the internet and are where you publish your external apps. In these zones, Cloud DNS uses what are known as “authoritative name servers” to respond to public queries no matter where these queries originate. It assigns this set of name servers when you create a public zone.

Private zones

These zones give you an easy-to-manage internal DNS solution that focuses on your virtual machines, load balancers and other GCP resources. Private zones don’t expose your underlying DNS data to the public internet and remain within your own network.

cloud_app_developmentPrivate zones only can be queried by your organization’s authorized Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) networks and are assigned to specific projects. You need to specify the list of authorized VPCs that can query a specific zone when you create that zone. This blocks hostile agents from gaining access

In short, Cloud DNS gives your organization a way to publish your DNS zones and records easily, either for external users or your internal teams, without requiring your IT team to manage the servers and software it takes to do that. Cloud DNS relieves that burden and allows them to focus on other critical activities. And it delivers reliable, low-latency access to your services to users anywhere in the world.

What Features Does Cloud DNS Offer?

Cloud DNS comes with its own set of features that ensure you get a scalable, reliable and managed DNS service.

Anycast name servers

Anycast name servers are ones that can respond to DNS queries. Google offers a global network of these to provide users with quick results to a query. Typically the geographically closest server handles the query, but any location around the world provides redundancy for high availability and low latency for requests.

Automatic scaling and guaranteed availability

Cloud DNS scales multiple DNS zones and records to handle your query volumes, even if you’ve created numerous records. Google Cloud indicates its service-level agreement (SLA) ensures 100% availability of its authoritative name servers.

API and web UI management

man surfing the webWhile you can use Google Cloud Console to easily manage your Cloud DNS records, there are other management options. These include managing your records using Google’s scriptable gcloud command-line tool or its REST API to create a customized DNS interface.

Zone and project management

This feature allows you to create managed zones for a project and also add, delete and edit DNS records, monitoring them as they propagate to DNS name servers.

Because Cloud DNS supports the migration of any existing DNS domain from another provider to its servers, it’s easy to create a managed zone to contain your records, import your existing zone configuration and update your registrar’s name servers and make the switch.

We want to be sure you understand all that Google Cloud Platform has to offer, so be sure to check out other blogs in our GCP 101 series. We'll be adding more soon!

GCP 101: An Introduction to Google Cloud Platform

GCP 101: How to Use Google Compute Engine

GCP 101: Building a Data Pipeline in Google Cloud Platform

GCP 101: How Autoscaling Works in the Google Cloud

GCP 101: Let’s Talk about Google Cloud Storage

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Meet the Author

Nickolaos Contaxakis, Cloud Solutions Engineer

Nickolaos Contaxakis, Cloud Solutions Engineer

A seasoned IT consultant with over 25 years of experience, Nick has run his own consulting business and worked for a variety of organizations including some of the biggest names in the industry. A self-admitted geek, he is recognized for his passion and curiosity for everything that is technology related.

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