There are excruciatingly high stakes for software today. Trillions of dollars of market cap, billions of consumers, hundreds of billions of revenue, and limitless hours of usage are dependent on software working in real time, all the time, without downtime.
As the sophistication of software delivery has increased, every layer of the tech stack has been rewritten — an accelerated evolution has led to a bevy of multibillion-dollar, up-and-coming unicorns and multiple massive public market debuts.
However, today we’re talking about one of the most integral pillars holding up the internet. The Domain Name System, otherwise known as DNS, is the key addressing system that connects browsers, users, devices and servers together. Type in “www.techcrunch.com” in your browser, and DNS finds the address linked to that name and tells routers and switches across the world which server to connect to and how to send data back to you.
Unlike physical postal addresses, innovation around DNS addressing has flourished in recent years. Traffic management, performance scaling, and cost shaping have turned DNS from a basic directory into a vital layer for guaranteeing the reliability of all software in use on the internet today while protecting the bottom line.
Few companies have parlayed internet infrastructure experience into a world-class engineering company quite like NS1. The New York City-based startup has raised more than $100 million as it builds a strategic node at the core of the modern web delivery tech stack. Customers are flocking: 760 at latest count (up from 600 a year ago), with year-over-year bookings growth well into the triple digits.
How did the company take a slumbering and dreary yet reliable aspect of the internet and turn it into a strategic moat and an enterprise win? And what lessons can we learn about the future of the enterprise infrastructure layer from one of its leading lights? That’s what we’re here to find out.
The lead writer of this EC-1 is Sean Michael Kerner. Kerner has been covering the IT and enterprise infrastructure market for more than a decade as a tech journalist (or, @TechJournalist as he is known on Twitter). Perhaps most importantly, he’s also partially fluent in Klingon, which has no bearing on this EC-1, but is one of those cool facts we wanted to include anyway. The lead editor for this package was Danny Crichton, the assistant editor was Ram Iyer, the copy editor was Richard Dal Porto, and illustrations were drawn by Nigel Sussman.
NS1 had no say in the content of this analysis and did not get advance access to it. Kerner has no financial ties to NS1 or other conflicts of interest to disclose.
The NS1 EC-1 comprises four main articles numbering 10,300 words and a reading time of 41 minutes. Here’s what we’ll be (DNS) addressing:
Part 1: Origin story “1 napkin and 22 lines of code, or how NS1 rewrote the rules of internet infrastructure” (2,700 words/11 minutes) — Sets the context for NS1’s business and provides a brief explanation of why DNS (the technology at the core of the NS1 service) matters.
Part 2: Product development and roadmap “WTF is NS1? It’s DNS, DDI, and maybe other TLAs” (2,700 words/11 minutes) — Analyzes NS1’s products, vision and open-source efforts through NS1 Labs.
Part 3: Competitive landscape “The fight for the future of DNS is white hot” (2,300 words/9 minutes) — Evaluates how NS1 competes in a space littered with well-funded Big Tech companies and well-established mature companies.
Part 4: Customer development “Outages, pandemics and the reengineering of traffic on the internet” (2,600 words/10 minutes) — Explores how companies like Roblox and Pinterest have had to reshape their networking infrastructure in light of massive growth and increasing demands for resilience from users.
We’re always iterating on the EC-1 format. If you have questions, comments or ideas, please send an email to TechCrunch Managing Editor Danny Crichton at [email protected].