NS1 today announced that Dell Technologies Capital led their Series C investment for $33M. Joining us in the round is existing investors Salesforce Ventures, Granite Global Ventures, Deutsche Telekom, Flybridge, and Sigma Prime Ventures. My partner, Daniel Docter, coordinated DTC’s investment, and I’ll be joining NS1’s board of directors.
Founded in 2013 by Kris Beevers (CEO), Jon Sullivan (CTO), and Alex Vayl (chief of staff), NS1 has rapidly become the leading vendor in what has historically been a sleepy market — DNS. NS1 has 450 vanguard customers whose applications require fast and safe traffic routing including Salesforce, LinkedIn, Yelp, Dropbox, and Spotify. NS1 delivers their DNS capabilities through a managed DNS cloud offering and a DNS+DHCP+IP Address Management (also known as DDI) on-premises solution.
The New World: Demanding Global Audiences & Increasingly Complex Applications
Investing in NS1 was not an intuitive choice. My biases were skeptical: DNS is a solved problem and network commodity. Through Kris’ and his team’s vision, they bust through these views by demonstrating how DNS will lead the global transformation into edge, microservices, multi-cloud, and mixed reality applications.
Applications now power the core business for most organizations. The emergence of mixed reality, edge, and multi-cloud infrastructure demands lower latency SLAs, with many future applications requiring sub-5ms round trip time (RTT). For example, remote surgery requires a doctor to control devices with near instant haptic feedback, only achievable when the physical device can transmit pressure sensitivities over complex infrastructure such that the surgeon immediately senses the reaction.
These new types of applications create demanding global users that drive complex application infrastructure: dynamic and distributed, heterogeneous, multi-network, multi-cloud, and potentially running on the edge.
The routing of a user’s traffic — the traffic path — impacts performance, cost of service, and security.
The traffic path has become critical and strategic — to network operators, delivery infrastructure teams, application owners and business.
NS1’s DNS Makes Routing Smarter
DNS is a means for apps to translate a location’s name into a destination on the network. DNS servers run on the Internet replicating information for global audiences, but can also run in private networks, embedded within network hardware, cached locally within user devices, or even within applications themselves.
As a lookup service, DNS is often the first touch for applications when it’s time to send data elsewhere. This touch happens before the application traffic reaches a gateway, router or other infrastructure.
In many ways, DNS is the edge’s edge!
DNS, already distributed and embedded as part of application flow, is well-suited to return lookup results that can make an application run faster — by delivering destination addresses for lookups that are informed through global traffic situational awareness.
NS1’s innovative approach to DNS collects metadata associated with locations, routing, and risk factors. Their cloud uses analytics and machine learning to make lookup results that deliver fast and safe application performance through intelligent routing. The result is every DNS answer reflects the availability, location, load, capacity and responsiveness for a point of presence.
NS1 also enables DNS records to return multiple answers, enabling answers to contain traffic management policies, such as lowest cost of service, through an engine that selects the best answer for each request.
NS1’s intelligence is embeddable and programmatically accessible by apps, making it possible for every application to become edge-aware.
As NS1 integrates across the traffic stack of CDNs, WANs, ingres load balancers, internal DNS, network automation, and egress systems, these systems feed their awareness into NS1 causing DNS routing to get even smarter, making applications faster and safer over time.
NS1’s intelligence unlocks the strategic potential that exists on the furthest — and no longer sleepy — edges of an application’s boundary. NS1 has become an application traffic company.
NS1 Is Bringing Smart Traffic Management To All Apps
Intelligent routing will become an essential part of all applications. As workloads migrate into VMs, containers, or microservices, service naming becomes foundational infrastructure so that different workloads can discover, identify and route to others. IPAM + DHCP, service discovery (ie etcd, zookeeper), and service meshes (ie Istio, LinkerD, and Consul) are evolving into backbones that facilitate service-to-service communication.
NS1’s DNS and naming intelligence are available for developers and development teams to make their service mesh more efficient, easier to manage, and empowered with global routing awareness and metadata.
Flowing from this intelligence will be flowing DNS information into analytics, APM, SIEM, and distributed tracing solutions. These solutions provide real time insights into applications and NS1’s DNS will expand their visibility into an end-to-end analytics solution.
Security companies, especially those focused on DDoS, Web Application Firewalls, bot mitigation, and dynamic authentication, will offer better control and preventive traffic risk management by leveraging NS1’s path and endpoint awareness.
Collectively, NS1’s offerings optimize and offer new forms of control across the entire data path while opening up a broader sense of end-to-end visibility.
NS1 Is Growing
It was easy to build a strong conviction around NS1’s future as an important traffic management company, and subsequently why investing into the NS1 team will generate a terrific outcome.
I’m not the only one that feels this way. NS1 customers report that NS1:
- improves application performance by 70%
- propagation are best-of-breed with <150ms updates to edge facilities
- have saved some customers more than $2M / year when they introduce multiple CDN with NS1 routing
- enables high velocity development through self-service access for development teams so naming changes are deployed instantly
- absorbs DDoS attacks larger than the massive Dyn DNS outage in 2016
NS1 is Hiring
I’m looking forward to helping the company shape its future and to be a contributing board member.
We are aggressively hiring. If rewriting the rules and being part of a major disruption in global application traffic excites you, please write me @ firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll introduce you to the right people within NS1.
We are hiring:
- Technology: Product managers, DevOps engineers, back-end software engineers, security engineers, architects, and data scientists.
- Business: Product marketing managers, account executives, and sales leaders.