The Basics of Everything – DNS

Following on from our previous post by one of my colleagues, I thought it would be a good idea to dive a little deeper in to the background of the Domain Name Server (DNS).

When it comes to the internet, there’s many problems. Both current and on the not too distant horizon. Although I’m a skeptic about whether this is potentially a real issue, but it’s worth mentioning that one of the most possible common problems of the internet today is the potential of running out of IPv4 addresses, due to the amount of different devices now connected to the internet. IPv6 was meant to be the savior technology that would rid this problem. Yet, IPv6 is not only much more complicated to roll out and administer, the worldwide roll-out of IPv6 network is progressing at very slow speeds. And if the lack of IPv4 addresses was to eventuate, then we’d have a real problem on our hands due to the slow implementation of the aforementioned protocol. And the other issue is that of running out of web domain addresses. Or suitable ones for what business and people really require to suit to content of their website.

2013 is going to be a big year for domain name registrars. ICANN recently announcing that this year will see the roll-out of many more varieties of possible domain names. It will happen in stages and will increase the potential of clients to get the real domain name that they intended to get, but one that also targets exactly the services on offer. The potential is there to have www.mywebsite.anything. That’s how far we’ve come with the technology of domain names and DNS.

It’s also important to go back to the very beginning of the design and creation of networking and the internet. In fact, websites did not even have domain names. Everything was connected and networked using the actual IP address of the client and server. Of course, any website can still be accessed today using the IP address of the server. Try entering for Facebook. Or for Google. Also note, there is actually many different IP addresses that Google can be accessed on. You see, it works just the same as it would if you enter that of the whole web URL itself. In fact, you can host your very own web server (or any other kind of server) from your computer at home and access it via the internet using the IP address. It’s simple and effective and very traditional in a sense.

The conception of the Domain Name Server (DNS as it’s known) was developed in the early 1980’s. The basics of the task of what a DNS does is really quite simple. The server aims to translate the website URL in to the actual IP address of the server the user is requesting. Once the translation has taken place, the server directs the user to the correct server location. The whole process is actually very quick. And with todays internet connection speeds, it’s so fast that the process is almost completely transparent. Most users are not even aware that an actual translation is actually taking place, due to the transparent process.

In a modern world we are all deeply surrounded and sometimes drowning in technology. It’s easy to get caught up in its aura and forget the very basics of how technology works and how devices and the internet connect. And when you allow your brain to absorb the information, the technology that once seemed so daunting and complicated, may not seem so complicated after all when you understand how they were designed and how the very foundations were formed.