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April 26, 2017

Waze or MapQuest? When it Comes to the Internet, Traffic Routes Matter

By Special Guest
Jonathan Lewis, VP of product, NS1

Let’s say you operate a large chain of retail stores. Would you rather your customers use Waze or MapQuest to get to the store closest to them? Clearly you would rather they use Waze; otherwise they might find themselves stuck in traffic and decide in frustration not to go to your store at all. When it comes to online businesses, the situation for your customers is quite similar.

If your online business operates beyond a local scale – nationally or globally – then your website is actually comprised of multiple sites. To serve a large, geographically dispersed audience, your business needs many points of presence on the Internet, just as the large brick-and-mortar retailer needs many store locations. This brings us to the question of how users actually find your site.

When a user clicks on a link to your site, their PC, smartphone or other mobile device queries the domain name system (DNS) to find your site’s IP address. DNS delivers the IP address and the device connects. This all happens automatically and typically within a couple of seconds. So how does DNS decide which of your many Internet store fronts the user should go to? Traditional DNS services operate more or less in the mode of MapQuest and other similar Web mapping services. They know where the user is located and send them to the Internet store location that is the closest geographically. The DNS may also be able to check if the site is currently in operation. This works perfectly fine most of the time.

However, the Internet is dynamic and, at times, volatile. The Internet route to the closest geographic location may be congested and slow. User demand is highly variable. There may be heavy demand from users located in the eastern United States while relatively few users are coming from the West. Rather than overload your East Coast data centers, wouldn’t it be better to send some users to the lightly loaded, West Coast locations? And what if the DNS had more information including:

  • Which of your locations is closest in “Internet time” to each user trying to get to your e-commerce store?
  • How many customers are currently being served at each location?
  • How much capacity there is at each location to serve incoming customers?

Your customers would get to your site more quickly on average and would get faster service once they get there.

Intelligent DNS has this capability and the business impact is significant. Multiple studies have shown the positive effect better performance has on ecommerce sales:

  • Intuit (News - Alert) increased conversions 3 percent for every one second improvement in page load time.
  • Amazon found every 100ms delay in page load time reduced sales by 1 percent
  • The Aberdeen (News - Alert) Group found 25 percent of users will abandon a Web application after just three seconds of delay.

Marketers spend a lot of money advertising their e-commerce businesses and making their online stores appealing and attractive places to shop. Make the most of these investments. Intelligent DNS is an easy step your tech team can take to bring in more site visitors that buy more of what you are selling.

About the Author

Jonathan Lewis brings to NS1 over 25 years of experience in the IT industry in a career comprising product management, product marketing, customer service and systems engineering roles. Prior to NS1, Lewis led teams at Nortel (News - Alert) that brought numerous network and security products to market including IPsec gateways, SSL VPNs and end point security. He played key product marketing roles, contributing to the success of mid-size and start-up companies, including Arbor Networks and SSH Communications (News - Alert) Security. He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees from McGill University, an M.B.A. from Bentley College and a CISSP certification.

Edited by Alicia Young

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