Monitoring is a fundamental component for building observable IT infrastructure and applications, no matter how your services are structured. By adding a domain to a DNS (domain name system) provider’s name servers, you’re defining those servers as authoritative for any queries coming into your domain. DNS is a crucial aspect of network performance and can show the responsiveness between authoritative name servers and recursive name servers (essentially end-users). And, as the first touchpoint between end-users and your services, you need to ensure the uptime and performance of DNS.
What is DNS monitoring?
Because computers can only connect and interpret a series of numbers, the domain name system (DNS) was created as a directory for translating domains from the browser into computer-readable IP. In the early days of the internet, you could only visit a website by knowing its specific IP address. According to DNS Made Easy, DNS was created in the early 1980s by a man named Paul Mockapetris as a way to map IP addresses to human-readable domain names.
As you likely already know, DNS records are stored on nameservers. Nameservers are used to store computer files that map domains to specific IP addresses. Root nameservers are distributed across the globe and store the locations of all top-level domains (TLDs) such as .com or .org. Then, those TLDs each have their own set of servers that store the records showing who is accountable for storing the DNS records of a specific domain.
The authoritative, accountable nameserver is typically a DNS provider or registrar such as GoDaddy, Name.com, AWS, etc. – depending on the type of service you maintain. Monitoring the performance and uptime of DNS can help you detect problems in the network and ensure that you’re consistently delivering services to end-users. But, to comprehensively monitor DNS, you’ll need a suite of monitoring tools that help you ensure full coverage of all potential DNS incidents.
So, we put together this list of the top 10 DNS monitoring tools to help you build visibility into the health of your DNS:
DNS Check is a simple tool to ensure you notice any changes or lookup failures for DNS records and name servers. You can link DNS Check with alerting and incident response tools to immediately notify on-call responders when there’s a critical issue. DevOps and IT teams can run automatic checks for unresponsive name servers, wrong IP addresses, missing or duplicate DNS records, IP addresses that have been removed, out of sync name servers and much more. You can request DNS record updates on demand and see which are working and which aren’t. DNS Check is an excellent, simple way to keep track of DNS uptime and performance.
SignalFX is more commonly used as an application monitoring or cloud monitoring tool. But, it does have functionality for DNS monitoring when you’re working with numerous AWS capabilities such as Route 53, Apache, EC2, etc. SignalFX also makes it easy to expand from your DNS monitoring in order to monitor other parts of your networks, applications and infrastructure.
Catchpoint provides application and server monitoring from front to back. Catchpoint’s DNS monitoring solution can help teams monitor the real impact of DNS on end-user experience. Across all servers and networks, Catchpoint allows you to see if DNS servers are up and running, as well as how well they’re performing. In addition to the deep context provided by Catchpoint’s DNS monitoring tool, they have a number of additional synthetic and real-user monitoring offerings to help you create visibility into overall system health. Catchpoint also integrates with alerting tools like VictorOps to help DevOps and IT teams reduce MTTA/MTTR for DNS issues.
As another great DNS and server monitoring tool, Site24x7 can help DevOps and IT professionals continuously check the availability and response time of DNS. In one tool, you can visualize and check on the performance of DNS and troubleshoot the issue – leading to a faster resolution for domain name incidents. You can find mismatched record names and configured search values, set response time thresholds and alert on-call responders when incidents do occur. While Site24x7 may not help you address all of your website and uptime monitoring needs, it does DNS monitoring very well.
Splunk is a leader in logging, data analytics and application and infrastructure monitoring. DNS monitoring is a secondary part of the services provided by Splunk. But, in conjunction with the other monitoring solutions provided by Splunk, you can build deep observability across all network, server and application issues. Additionally, with VictorOps as part of the Splunk family, you can count on your monitoring tools working well with your on-call management and real-time incident response solutions.
One small part of Nagios XI is DNS monitoring. It can act as a complete solution for monitoring DNS servers, protocols and queries. Nagios XI allows you to increase the availability of servers, DNS, and overall services and applications. With faster detection of network outages and protocol failures, as well as faster detection of DNS hijacking and spoofing, you’ll be able to respond faster. Alongside a well-built incident response plan, Nagios XI can help you improve overall service uptime and ensure DNS issues are resolved quickly.
Panopta is an excellent client-side infrastructure monitoring tool for cloud, on-premise and hybrid environments. You can monitor DNS as well as everything from CPU usage to latency across servers and networks. Alongside application monitoring tools and alerting software, you have a recipe for DevOps and IT success. Armed with the knowledge of DNS availability as well as overall performance and health of servers and networks, you can build an engineering department dedicated to proactive reliability.
Alongside web monitoring metrics and uptime checks for things such as HTTP/S requests and SSL certificates, Dotcom-Monitor can consistently check the performance and correctness of worldwide DNS queries. This ensures consistent connectivity between websites and servers, as well as ensuring positive end-user experiences with your application or service. DNS monitoring with Dotcom-Monitor can help DevOps and IT teams decrease downtime, increase revenue and improve customer relationships.
PRTG is highly-specific to teams looking to know everything about DNS. It can provide comprehensive statistics on DNS servers and will constantly run availability and performance checks on those same DNS servers. PRTG is easy to set up and offers detailed insights that on-call IT and DevOps teams need when responding to critical network or server incidents regarding DNS. You can easily set up notifications to be sent out through on-call tools such as VictorOps in the event of DNS malfunctions or server downtime.
Monitis’ DNS monitoring can show you whether or not your DNS server correctly resolves the URL that you’ve provided to expected IPs. Monitis can alert you if the DNS monitor fails to connect to the server, fails to resolve an expect IP, runs into some kind of permissions error, or simply runs into connection errors or overall response time errors. Monitis is a truly comprehensive DNS monitoring tool. And, Monitis’ insights, when surfaced in a highly collaborative incident management tool, can lead to faster incident resolution and greater visibility into DNS health for all engineering and IT teammates.
Improving DNS performance and reducing MTTA/MTTR with monitoring
In the grand scheme of things, DNS is one small part of a service’s overall network and server health. But, in the land of highly interconnected applications and complex infrastructure, one small issue with DNS can create numerous other incidents. So, knowing exactly what’s going on with your DNS can help you facilitate a stronger foundation for system reliability. Then, with a detection plan in place for DNS issues, you can build a strategic, associated plan for on-call scheduling, automated alerting and collaborative incident response.
See how VictorOps integrates with the full suite of DevOps and IT tools – from monitoring software to chat applications – to improve incident visibility and make on-call incident management suck less. Sign up for a 14-day free trial or request a free personalized demo to learn more.