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February 04, 2014

Making Domain Magic, at an Efficient Cost

DomainFive years ago, HP cancelled work on the DNS domain name services for MPE/iX. Not a lot of people were relying on the 3000 to be handling their Internet hosting, but the HP decision to leave people on their own for domain management sealed the deal. If ever there was something to be migrated, it was DNS.

But configuring DNS software on a host is just one part of the Internet tasks that a 3000-savvy manager has had to pick up. One of the most veteran of MPE software creators, Steve Cooper of Allegro, had to work out a fresh strategy to get domains assigned for his company, he reports.

We have been using Zerigo as our DNS hosting service for a number of years now, quite happily.  For the 31 domains that we care for, they have been charging us $39 per year, and our current year has been pre-paid through 2014-08-07.

 We received an e-mail explaining exciting news about how their service will soon be better-than-ever.  And, how there will be a slight increase in costs, as a result.  Instead of $39 per year, they will now charge $63 per month. A mere 1900% increase!  And, they won't honor our existing contract either.  They will take the pro-rated value of our contract on January 31, and apply that towards their new rates.  (I don't even think that's legal.)

 In any case, we are clearly in the market for a new DNS Hosting provider. Although I am not a fan of GoDaddy, their website. or their commercials, they appear to offer a premium DNS Hosting service, with DNSSEC, unlimited domains, etc. for just $2.99 per month.  Sounds too good to be true.

Cooper was searching for experience with that particular GoDaddy service. GoDaddy has been a default up to now, but acquiring a domain seems to need more tech savvy from support. The 3000 community was glad to help this other kind of migration, one to an infrastructure that MPE never demanded. The solution turned out to be one from the Southern Hemisphere, from a company whose hub is in a country which HP 3000 experts Jeanette and Ken Nutsford call home.

Cooper said that some 3000 vets suggested "rolling my own," self-hosting with his external DNS. Here's a few paragraphs addressing those two topics:

We have a dual-zoned DNS server inside our firewall, but we do not have it opened to the the outside world.  Instead, only our DNS hosting service has access to it.  The DNS hosting service sees itself as a Slave server and our internal server as the Master server.  However, our registrars point to that external DNS hosting service, not our internal server, so the world only interrogates our DNS hosting service when they need to resolve an address in one of our 31 domains.

 Why don't we open it up to the world?  Well, we get between 200,000 and 3,000,000 DNS lookups per month.  I don't want that traffic on our internal network.  There are also DDoS attacks and other exploits that I want no part of.  And, since some of our servers are now in the Cloud, such as our mail, webserver, and iAdmin server, I don't want to appear to disappear, if our internet connection is down.  Best to offload all of that, to a company prepared to handle that.

When I need to make a change, I do it on our internal DNS server, and within a few seconds, those changes have propagated to our DNS hosting service, without the need for any special action.  The best of both worlds.

 Now, on to the issue from earlier in the month.  Our DNS hosting service, Zerigo,  announced that they were raising rates by 1900%.  And, our first attempt at a replacement was GoDaddy.  Although the information pages at GoDaddy sounded promising, they made us pay before we could do any testing. After three days of trying to get it to work, and several lengthy calls to GoDaddy support, they finally agreed that their service is broken, and they can't do what they advertised, and refunded our money.

The biggest problem at GoDaddy is that I (as the customer) was only allowed to talk to Customer Service.  They in turn, could talk to the lab people who could understand my questions and problems.  But the lab folks were not allowed to talk to me, only the Customer Service people.  This is not a way to do support, as those of us in the support business know full well.

  Screen Shot 2014-02-04 at 6.09.48 PMAfter more research, I hit upon what appears to be a gem of a company: Zonomi. They are a New Zealand based company with DNS servers in New York, Texas, New Zealand, and the UK.  And, they let you set up everything and run with it for a month before you have to pay them anything. We were completely switched over with about an hour of effort.

 Now, the best news: they are even cheaper than our old DNS hosting service used to be.  If you have a single, simple domain, then they will host you for free, forever.  If you have a more complex setup, as we do, the cost is roughly US $1 per year, which beats the $63 per month Zerigo wanted to charge. The first ten domains cost $10 per year, then you add units of five more domains for $5 per year.

 The only risk I can see is if they go out of business.  In that case, I could just open our firewall and point our domains to our internal server, until I could find a replacement.  So, that seems reasonable.

 That problem is solved.  On to the next fire.

06:17 PM in Migration, User Reports, Web Resources | Permalink

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