[Podcast] DNS is the new BGP — how we really route things in the modern Internet

By on 8 Feb 2024

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In this episode of PING, APNIC’s Chief Scientist Geoff Huston discusses the role of the Domain Name System (DNS) in directing where your applications connect to, and where content comes from. Although this is more ‘steering’ traffic than ‘routing’ in the strict sense of IP packet forwarding (that’s still the function of the Border Gateway Protocol or BGP), it does in fact represent a kind of routing decision, to select a content source or server logistically that’s ‘best’ or ‘closest’ to you. So in the spirit of ‘Orange is the new Black’ — DNS is the new BGP.

As this change in the delivery of content has emerged, the effective control of this kind of routing decision has also become more concentrated, in the hands of the small number of at-scale Content Distribution Networks (CDNs) and associated DNS providers worldwide. This is far less than the 80,000 or so BGP speakers with their own Autonomous System (AS) and represents another trend — how we optimize content delivery isn’t decided in common among us, it’s managed by simpler contractual relationships between content owners and intermediaries.

The upside, of course, remains the improvement in the efficiency of fetch for each client, and the reduction in delay and loss. However, the evolution of the Internet over time and the implications for governance in ‘steering’ decisions are going to be of increasing concern.

Read more about Geoff’s views of concentration in the Internet, governance, and economics on the APNIC Blog and at APNIC Labs:

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