Route 53: Why You Should Consider Migrating Your DNS Needs to AWS

What AWS Route 53 brings to the DNS table

Amazon Route 53 is a highly available and scalable DNS service offered by AWS. Like any DNS service, Route 53 handles domain registration and routes users’ Internet requests to your application — whether it’s hosted on AWS or elsewhere.

But Route 53 also intelligently directs traffic based on sophisticated routing policies and — through automated health checks — away from servers that might be failing.

Like many AWS services, Route 53 is a pay-as-you-go service. You will be charged for the number of hosted zones you create and maintain and by the number of requests routed. In my previous post, I discussed some of the basics of how DNS works.  Now we will explore the value that Route 53 can create for your domain needs and why and how you might want to migrate your domains over to Route 53.

To dive into AWS Route53, Cloud Academy’s Working with AWS’s Domain Name System: Amazon Route 53 is your go-to course. You’ll see that our Route53 course is part of a larger Learning Path covering AWS Networking & Content Delivery, with more pieces to the puzzle such as Hands-on Labs walking you through creation of a CloudFront Content Delivery Network (CDN).

Learning Path on AWS Networking & Content Delivery

Why you should consider migrating to Route 53

Once you’ve got your domain up and running, you can choose a routing policy that best fits your needs. To get the most out of the service however, you’ll need to properly understand the function of each policy type.

Simple Routing Policy

This is the most common and, as the name suggests, simplest routing type. If, say, your application server has a public IP address of 205.251.242.103, and you’d like to use the human-readable address of amazon.com (assuming it’s available, of course), then you would use Route 53 to map amazon.com to your IP. From then on, any browser requests for amazon.com would be directed to 205.251.242.103.

Weighted Routing Policy

By assigning different numeric weights (or “priorities”) to multiple servers providing a web service, you can direct a higher or lower percentage of your incoming traffic to one particular server over another. This kind of routing can be useful for load balancing and testing new versions of a software package.

Route 53 Weighted Routing Policy

Latency-based Routing Policy

A latency based policy directs traffic requests to the server that will be able to respond with the lowest possible latency (delay). You could, for instance, run your application in multiple AWS regions, and Route 53 will automatically route users to those that will deliver the quickest.

Route 53 Latency-based Routing Policy


Failover Routing Policy

A failover policy will send all traffic to the server you set as primary for as long as that server is still healthy. If, however, health checks determine that it’s failing, traffic will be diverted to a designated backup resource.

Route 53 Failover Routing Policy


Geolocation Routing Policy

This policy lets you designate resource targets based on your users’ geographic location. So, for example, you might want all queries from India to be routed to a server located in the same physical region in order to limit latency.

Some Route 53 features

Domain Registration. You can purchase domains from all top-level domains (.com, .net, .org, etc.) directly from route 53, avoiding the need to migrate altogether. Route 53 also provides privacy protection for your WHOIS record at no extra charge.

Private DNS. Private DNS records let you create private hosted zones and route traffic using easily managed domain names within your VPCs. This can, for instance, allow you to quickly switch between IP-based resources without the need to update multiple embedded links.

Health Check. Route 53 monitors the health of your application and, when an outage is detected, redirects users to a healthy resource.

AWS service integration. Route 53 is tightly integrated with Elastic Load Balancing (ELB), CloudFront, and S3. You can easily route traffic to an ELB CNAME record, a static website hosted on S3, or generate custom domains for your CloudFront URLs.

Alias Records. Instead of an IP address, an alias resource record can, for instance, point directly to a CloudFront distribution, ELB load balancer, or Amazon S3 bucket. This way, even if the IP addresses of the underlying resources should change, traffic will still be sent to the correct endpoint.

Migration options

  1. Leave your domain name with your own registrar

    If you would like to use Route 53’s routing features, but have no need to move your domain name from its current registrar, you simply need to give your registrar the new name server addresses you’ll get from Route 53 upon creating a hosted zone. Once you have updated your name servers with your own providers, Route 53 will ensure the routing of all new domain requests through its own name servers.

  2. Migrate your domain name to Route 53

    When you decided to migrate, you will need to get the DNS record data from your DNS provider. You will then import this data to a Route 53 hosted zone, and replace the registrar’s name server records with AWS name servers that you get by clicking on “GethostedZone”. Depending on your TTL settings, changes will take place within 24 to 48 hours.

For more insight into Amazon’s DNS service, take Cloud Academy’s Route 53 course.

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Written by

Nitheesh Poojary

My professional IT career began nine years back when I was just out of my college. I worked with a great team as an infrastructure management engineer, managing hundreds of enterprise application servers. I found my passion when I got the opportunity to work with Cloud technologies: I'm addicted to AWS Cloud Services, DevOps engineering, and all the cloud tools and technologies that make engineers' lives easier. Currently, I am working as a Solution Architect in SixNines IT. We are an experienced team of engineers that have helped hundreds of customers move to the cloud responsibly. I have achieved 5 AWS certifications, happily helping fellow engineers across the globe through my blogs and answering questions in various forums.

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