K-12 Communications: DNS Hosting through Amazon Route53
Domain Name System (DNS) manages mappings between domain names and IP addresses, acting as a distributed address book for the Internet. For example, the IP address for www.example.com might be 22.214.171.124. Having a name for your users to remember makes it easier to find you on the Internet.
Our enterprise DNS platform is built on Amazon’s Route 53 service and is backed by Amazon’s 100% uptime service level agreement (SLA). The geographically distributed nature of their DNS architecture ensures a consistent ability to route end users to your school’s site. Amazon’s Route 53 service along with our DNS Toolbox allows you to securely add, remove, and change DNS records not related to Blackbaud K12's services. Transferring authority of your DNS to BBK-12's enterprise platform backed by Amazon Route 53, while not a requirement, is considered critical to high availability and is being offered at no additional cost.
Our goal is to complete DNS transfership on a school by school basis as part of the upgrade/redesign process. If you have additional questions after reading the attached FAQ, please contact your Project Manager or email K-12Hosting@blackbaud.com if you’re not actively working in a project.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How much does BB K-12 hosted DNS cost?
There is no additional cost for DNS hosting with BB K-12.
Q: Is BB K-12 asking to control our DNS?
Control over where your DNS points is managed at your Registrar (Network Solutions, GoDaddy, etc.). BB K-12 is asking to become the DNS authority for your domain, which means you enter our Name Servers with your Registrar. You maintain control with your registrar.
Q: Can I still edit my DNS records if they are hosted with BB K-12?
Yes. All records not pertaining to your website (including A, CNAME, MX, SPF, TXT, SRV, and AAAA records) can be edited in our DNS Management Application (pictured below). Access to DNS Management is done through a browser using your App/Podium credentials. Your school can assign DNS Admins to be provisioned in our Application.
Q: Does this impact my site launch date?
This does not impact launch date. It would be ideal to complete this before launching your site. If there is not enough time prior to launch to switch your DNS, BB K-12l will provide you with a different set of DNS instructions.
Q: Why am I just hearing about this now?
Because launching a site requires DNS changes, we are using it as an opportunity to have this discussion with existing clients.
Q: Can we host multiple DNS domains with Route 53?
Yes. Each domain that is transferred to BB K-12 will be available to be managed by the school in our DNS management application.
Q: What information do we need to provide BB K-12 in order to transfer our DNS?
A DNS zone file from your current DNS provider or some other text file containing your DNS records would be best, but we can also use a screenshot to rebuild your DNS zone.
Q. What are root domain alias records and what do they do?
Root domain alias records are something that only Amazon Route 53 supports. Alias records allow your root domain (school.org) to be reliably redirected to your website URL (typically www.school.org). A limitation of traditional DNS providers is that they can only point a root domain at an IP address.
Q. What are the benefits of hosting my DNS with BB K-12?
Hosting your DNS with BB K-12 provides your school with enterprise class DNS hosting at no additional charge. Enterprise DNS hosting such as Amazon Route 53 increases performance by responding to requests faster and is more resilient than other DNS providers due to their ability to withstand DDoS attacks and the architecture of their anycast DNS network.
Q. What are the risks if I don’t transfer my DNS to BB K-12?
If your DNS provider goes offline for any reason, your website AND ability to receive email will be unavailable. Additionally, due to the previously mentioned limitations of traditional DNS services that require an IP address for a root domain (school.org), BB K-12 will only be able to provide you with a single IP address to use for your root domain. Unfortunately, this results in a single point of failure when directing traffic to your website via your root domain. The Amazon alias record allows us to direct traffic to a redundant set of IP addresses across multiple geographic locations.
Q. What is Split DNS?
Almost all of our schools are running a split DNS configuration whereby you create two zones for the same domain: one to be used by the internal network and the other used by the external network. Split DNS directs internal hosts to an internal DNS server for name resolution and external hosts are directed to an external DNS server for name resolution. When BB K12 refers to DNS hosting we are talking about hosting the externally facing or public DNS.
Q: Is it a good idea for our school to host our own public DNS on campus?
Hosting Public DNS on campus is not considered a best practice and therefore is not recommended by BB K-12. By hosting DNS on campus rather than with a dedicated DNS provider there is an increased risk of DNS related issues due to Internet outages, power failures, hardware failure (such as firewalls), etc.
Q: Is there any downtime associated with transferring my DNS to BB K-12?
There is typically no downtime associated with transferring DNS (name servers) to BB K-12. However, it is a best practice to make name server changes with your registrar overnight just in case.
Q: Where can I learn more about the Amazon Route 53 DNS service
You can read more about the Amazon Route 53 service on their website, including their frequently asked questions. http://aws.amazon.com/route53/faqs/