UltraDNS, a managed DNS service provider owned by NeuStar, is offering a load balancing service aimed at enterprises looking to improve the performance and reliability of their DNS resolutions.

Dubbed UltraDNS Traffic Controller, the new service allows customers to manage their DNS traffic across multiple data centres without having to purchase load balancing software or appliances. Instead, companies can buy Traffic Controller as an add-on to the outsourced DNS services they already purchase from UltraDNS.

Traffic Controller "allows our customers to directly shape how web or mail or any kind of traffic is going through their web or mail servers," says Jeff Samuels, vice president of marketing for UltraDNS. Samuels says the new service runs on "our entire network infrastructure. We have dozens and dozens of locations distributed throughout the world...and now we have the ability to shape traffic based on our customers' desires."

One early customer of UltraDNS Traffic Controller is BuyOnlineNow, a Rochester, Minnesota company that sells office supplies and furniture.

"Anyone that handles a multimillion [dollar] e-commerce operation knows that the name of the game is uptime and performance," says Nicholas Dibble, director of information technologies at BuyOnlineNow, which has 500,000 registered customers and 4 million page views per month. "Even being down for an hour for maintenance early on Sunday morning would cost us thousands of dollars."

BuyOnlineNow outsourced its DNS services to UltraDNS a couple years ago. The site has been using the new UltraDNS Traffic Controller service for a month.

"We have got a data centre here in Rochester, and a data centre in St. Paul. We have roughly 20 percent of our DNS traffic go to Rochester and 80 percent to St. Paul," Dibble explains. With UltraDNS Traffic Controller, "if either data centre goes down after hours or during the day, our customers won't know anything and we can still be open for business."

Dibble says BuyOnlineNow spends between $800 and $1,300 per month on UltraDNS services, including Traffic Controller.

"If you have an issue where you need complete operational redundancy or you need to balance your DNS load between data centres, this is a perfect fit," Dibble says. "The performance has been great. We have no issues with it."

UltraDNS Traffic Controller is available to UltraDNS customers that have outsourced external or internal DNS services or both. The new managed service works with load balancing software or appliances deployed behind firewalls inside data centres.

Samuels says the service will be useful in responding to outages by allowing a company to move DNS resolution to an alternative IP address in real time.

UltraDNS Traffic Controller adds between 20 and 40 percent to the cost of what a company is spending on its managed DNS services with UltraDNS, company officials say.