Going global: distributing APNIC’s services

By on 1 Sep 2014

Category: Tech matters

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Image credits: lurw on flickr.

It was a dark and stormy night in 2011. APNIC had just moved into the new office building, when Brisbane suffered its largest flood in 35 years. Our business continuity plan kicked into action to ensure staff were safe, phones were answered, and email correspondence continued.  For our data centres though, all we could do was watch and wait as the waters rose to determine if we would also be triggering our disaster recovery plans. Fortunately, the high water mark was one metre below the data centre closest to the Brisbane River, and all our technical services operated without interruption.

Today, our services are distributed across two facilities in Brisbane, with DNS and MX services also in colocation facilities in Hong Kong and Japan.  For the services in Brisbane, including WHOIS query and the RPKI repository, we are not only exposed to localized events disrupting service, we are also a long way away from most of our users.

To address both distance and disaster, APNIC is taking more of its services overseas.

The next service to leave Australian shores will be WHOIS query, which we will have running in multiple locations in the fourth quarter of this year.  To reach this goal, we need to address a number of challenges:

  • IPv6-enabled hosting using Infrastructure-as-a-Service partners
  • Directing traffic to the most suitable WHOIS query instance
  • Monitoring and responding to availability of remote query instances
  • Ensuring remote query instances remain up to date with changes
  • Securing data and services when operating in multi-tenancy facilities

We also need to define and measure success. To understand whether we’re providing a better service to users across the globe, we will be using the RIPE Atlas service to measure response times.  If our solution operates correctly, we would expect to see faster responses for all regions of the world. While operating in remote locations almost by definition addresses the risk of localised events disrupting service, care must still be taken to ensure remote services operate fully independently.

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The views expressed by the authors of this blog are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of APNIC. Please note a Code of Conduct applies to this blog.

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