The most frequently-discussed elements of Amazon Web Services (AWS) are its EC2 virtual server options and S3 cloud storage. Yet some long-term AWS customers reserve their highest praise for a rather more obscure product: the Route 53 scalable DNS management service.
Road picture from Shutterstock
AWS ANZ managing director Ed Lenta describes the role of AWS for many organisations as "undifferentiated heavy lifting". That's a description that works well for Route 53, which allows businesses to perform complex traffic redirection and management across AWS-based cloud projects.
Matt Barrie, CEO of Freelancer.com, is a particular fan. Speaking at an AWS media lunch last week, he noted that Route 53 "doesn't get attention" compared to other cloud offerings. However, for Freelancer.com, it's "absolutely mission critical", he said.
The main benefit of Route 53 for Freelancer.com is the ability to manage traffic to its various country domains. It operates numerous local sites (such as freelancer.com.au or freelancer.co.uk), but these all draw on the same central pool of data. "We have country domains around the world," Barrie said. "Without Route 53, it would be very awkward."
Another common use case for Route 53 is to redirect traffic automatically to the most relevant Amazon region, Lenta noted. Amazon operates eight distinct data centre regions (not include a government-only option offered in the US), including one based in Sydney that was launched in November last year. While the cheapest rates usually apply to its US data centres, many customers prefer to use other options for latency, compliance or traffic cost reasons.
The pricing model for Route 53 is based on the number of queries made to the service. Customers pay $US0.50 per "hosted zone" per month, and then an additional $US0.50 per million queries made to the service. Queries which are routed based on latency to different regions are slightly costlier, at $US0.75 per million queries.
Unlike many AWS options, the basic service charges aren't pro-rated across the month, but instances set up for testing purposes and deleted within 12 hours aren't charged.