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July 13-17, 2009

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GeoDNS - Geographically-aware, protocol agnostic, load-balancing at the DNS level

John Hawley (warthog19@eaglescrag.net)

The Open Source community has grown massively over the years, and now sports a complicated and diverse mirroring topology for its multitude of projects. While the mirroring structure has come to meet the needs of the world, getting users to the right place has become a larger issue. Users span the globe and it is imperative to attempt to try and distribute the load, not only across machines but by physical geographic location. There are many projects and companies that are attempting to handle this from mod_geo inside Apache, mirrormanager, to companies like Akami that provide full solutions. The commercial solutions are outside the reach of most open source projects, and other solutions currently rely on running within the webserver itself. This leaves other protocols like rsync, ftp, git and svn to fend for themselves, if they can.

GeoDNS is the idea of taking an incoming DNS request, doing the geographic lookup at the request time and returning different results based on the incoming ip address. This particular approach, taken by several DNS servers including bind-geodns, powerdns, and tinydns (with patches) allow large mirroring infrastructures like Kernel.org, Wikipedia and many other large sites direct users seamlessly to an appropriate server and help distribute their loads. This protocol agnostic approach is more universal and simpler for end users to handle by making seemingly hard choices transparent to them.



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