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What Goes Around Comes Around: Google's Recursive DNS

Google's announcement about their DNS service is naturally making waves among the Interneterati. Some think it's risky (no, encryption won't help).  Some think it's good for DNS in general. It's neither of these things. It's a DNS service that Google thinks will make browsing better and a potential research tool.

I don't have to speculate on why Google launched their DNS service. In the announcement, Prem Ramaswami, product manager, told us why they are doing it. "Our research has shown that speed matters to Internet users, so over the past several months our engineers have been working to make improvements to our public DNS resolver to make users' web-surfing experiences faster, safer and more reliable."

Research conducted by Google and research by other organizations into user behavior indicates similar results, pointing out that delays as small is half a second cause significant drop off rates. Google aims to improve performance by leveraging their existing clustering and HA technology and to do smart things like refreshing DNS names that expire so that they don't have to keep asking for the names over and over. It will be interesting to see the impact on sites that use DNS for load balancing.

Ramaswami  also said "As people begin to use Google Public DNS, we plan to share what we learn with the broader web community and other DNS providers to improve the browsing experience for Internet users globally." That's the research part. The benefits are going to be more for the organizations like large scale providers that run DNS, resolvers will hopefully be more efficient and effective at resolving domain names. That's a benefit for everyone, including Google.

Are there privacy concerns? Perhaps, but Google's own privacy policy seems pretty clear to me. They are not going to store identifiable information longer than 24-48 hours (for troubleshooting purposes) and in the long term storage, they won't even keep your IP address. Nor will they correlate queries with other activity they already know about if you use any of their services like Gmail, search, Apps and so on.

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