Noobita ki Rasoi: Solving the DNS Conundrum
This story is about Noobita, who wants to become a successful hotelier and is taking his first steps in that direction. Noobita lives in a modest suburb of a modern city called Electry. Electry is not your normal city, but it is a fast paced metropolis, where everything seems to be running at the “speed of light”. It is an ideal city with good facilities and an educated working class. I will describe Electry in detail some other time, because today’s spotlight is on Noobita.
Noobita is a great cook. He makes delicious meals and wants to serve people amazing food. But, to please the taste buds of people, he realizes he’ll need to establish a restaurant. A restaurant would be a perfect place showcase his culinary skills and also advance in the direction of his dream. So, he decides to register his business.
Electry is a highly organized metropolis and a central registry of everything is maintained scrupulously akin to government records. There are different offices for different registries. For setting up any business, you are required to register it first at the XYZ central records office. To make the registration process convenient, XYZ office has set up registrar offices all over the city which are managed privately and they have their unique identification based on their location. Thus, there is no rush in the XYZ administrative office and a central record is maintained easily.
For registration, you need a unique name of your business and an address as well. After much deliberation, Noobita decides to name his restaurant, Noobita ki Rasoi (Noobita’s Kitchen) and the address would be 9, Cloud Avenue. An interesting fact about Electry is, everything is a number, even addresses. And, 9, Cloud Avenue translates to 192.133 in Electry.
Finally, the time arises when Noobita goes to a registrar’s office and files a request for setting up his business. His restaurant’s name is accepted and he receives a permit from the registrar to start his business. Within some weeks, after much hard work, Noobita’s restaurant becomes open for business, and Noobita is ready to serve great food to his customers.
And that folks is a simple way of how the Domain Name System (DNS) works. DNS is the backbone of the internet and the cloud computing world. The websites that we visit everyday, are accessible because of the DNS. So, let us understand the metaphors of this story (You can of course go back and read it again) to know about the DNS. This story sheds some light on a few technical terminologies of the DNS such as, ICANN, TLDs, Domain Registrars, Name Server (NS) Records, A records and CNAME records.
The name of Noobita’s business has to be unique and that begs the question, have you ever seen 2 websites with the same names? Of course there is amazon.com and amazon.in but there aren’t 2 amazon.in isn’t it? So these are unique, but that means they are being stored somewhere. Enter, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers or ICANN. ICANN is the same as the XYZ office. It maintains the Top Level Domains (TLDs) such as the .in, .com, .ai etc. But ICANN cannot handle all the domain name requests, so it has accredited registrar (Same as XYZ office registrar) such as Godaddy, BigRock, Namecheap etc. which on behalf of ICANN provide you with domain names. As each registrar of the story’s XYZ records office has unique IDs based on their location, domain registrars have name-servers (NS records) which identify the domain registrar with whom your domain is registered.
So, the restaurant is ready to serve, but for customers to find it, they will need some address, isn’t it? When you visit a URL, your request needs to travel to a place from where the website will be “served” right? For that we have the A and the CNAME records. The A stands for Alias and it maps the domain name to an IP address. Now, do you remember in electry, the address, 9, cloud avenue is also recognized as 192.133. What if I write it as 184.108.40.206, doesn’t this look like an IP address? So, the A record is simply a mapping to an IP address. But, then why does 9, cloud avenue even exist as an address for Noobita’s Kitchen. It is like a Canonical NAME (CNAME). CNAME is essentially an alias name to another location which is easy to remember. So if someone wants to know where Noobita’s kitchen is it is easy to remember it as 9, Cloud Avenue rather than 192.133, isn’t it?
That sums up the few terminologies of the DNS. NS, A and CNAME records are actually something logical if you understand them correctly. DNS is simple and it isn’t rocket science. Noobita’s story will continue further to expand your knowledge about DNS. Brownie points to you, if you understood the popular references. Noobita’s Kitchen is the place to have great food and understand a thing or two about the Internet’s core component, the Domain Name System.