Sun Microsystems is teaming up with Nominum to offer an integrated carrier
grade DNS and DHCP solution. The partners claim their offering bests that of
the industry standard open source BIND solution for DNS.
connectivity, with DNS providing IP lookup and DHCP providing dynamic IP
BIND (Berkeley Internet Name Domain) has been the industry standard for DNS for many years and is included in almost all Linux and Unix offerings, including Sun Solaris.
current branch of BIND is BIND 9.3.x, which first debuted in 2004.
The Sun Nominum partnership will see Nominum’s DNS and DHCP paired with
Solaris 10 running on Sun hardware. The paired offering is being targeted
at telco and carrier networks and is intended to improve performance and
scalability over a stock BIND deployment running on generic “whitebox”
Tom Tovar, vice president of worldwide sales and business development at Nominum, noted
that as the world moves to increasing amounts of IP, there is a
corresponding increasing amount of pressure on DNS.
There are two DNS offerings and one DHCP offering in the Nominum lineup. Nominum claims that its Foundation Caching Name Server (CNS) is, “the world’s
fastest caching name server,” with the ability to handle four times the
query traffic that BIND supports on equivalent hardware.
Authoritative Name Server (ANS) is a dedicated authoritative name server and
is claimed to be, “the most scalable authoritative name server available.”
On the DHCP side of things, Nominum’s Dynamic Configuration Server (DCS) is
tailored for carrier grade DHCP scalability.
“Compared to BIND we have latency advantages that head and shoulders above,”
Tovar told internetnews.com. “We can respond to queries in a
millisecond whereas BIND can’t even come near that.”
Neither Sun nor Nominum are strangers to BIND. Both firms helped to
underwrite the development of BIND version 9 at the Internet Systems
Consortium (ISC), which manages BIND development.
The relationship between Nominum and BIND is even closer. Paul Vixie founder
and current president of the ISC, explained that Nominum was originally
founded by people from ISC.
“It has grown quite a lot since then and is now run by a normal VC-chosen
board of directors,” Vixie told internetnews.com. “Nominum has done
work under contract to ISC. For example, the original implementation of
BIND9 was done by Nominum, whose employees at that time were mostly ex-ISC.”
There is, however, no shared code between Nominum’s DNS and ISC’s BIND.
“We do not share any code with BIND. Our solution is a commercial grade
separate and distinct software package,” Tovar stated. “We know where BIND’s
limitations are and we’ve developed a solution that not only solves those
problems, but also provides additional high availability and scalability.”
Vixie admitted that Nominum’s ANS and CNS have a higher top-end than
BIND9, since they’re able to make performance-related tradeoffs that BIND
can’t due to its open source and portability goals.
That’s not to say BIND isn’t enough for many enterprises.
“It’s a rare enterprise whose needs are beyond BIND’s performance levels,”
Vixie told internetnews.com.
The difference between BIND and Nominum also has to do with being open versus
“ISC is a non-profit public benefit corporation whose products (BIND, DHCP)
and services (f-root) are freely available,” Vixie explained. “Nominum is a
for-profit company whose products and services are proprietary and licensed
for a fee.”
Both companies offer fee-based support for their products, as well.
According to Vixie, the ISC and Nominum aren’t necessarily competitors,
“It’s a rare enterprise or ISP or telco who thinks of us as competitors or
would consider evaluating both companies’ products,” Vixie said. “Those who want open source come to ISC. Those who want traditional commercial software go to
“ISC considers Nominum a supporter and fellow traveler, and we work together
with them on issues affecting the industry, such as IETF RFC documents.”