While I was figuring out what to do next, a more pressing area of interest emerged – domains and mapping them.
My attempt at setting and running an application, ended up with mixed results. While the web hosting provider didn’t necessarily approve of my application, it did give me enough confidence to continue tinkering on the technical/programming front. But, before deciding on how I wanted to proceed, I first had to dwell a little deeper into domains, and mapping them
A domain name is a string that helps identify a website. They are governed by a Domain Name System (DNS), and any name registered under it, are referred to as a domain name. Such names are often used as friendly terms/aliases that help point users to a particular Internet Protocol (IP). Since the first domain name was sold in 1985, to a company called Symbolics Inc, the number of registered domains has substantially increased – in 1992 the number of domains registered were fewer than 15,000, and it is now well upwards of 294 million domains!
With the products that I have worked on, I hadn’t really focused on how domains map with the hosting infrastructure. And, it was only recently that I needed to actively look into it.
As I wrote before (here and here), Amazon Web Services (AWS) is more than just another hosting provider – it’s so much more! One way we deployed our application on AWS, was using a dual node/server structure. This helped ensure redundancy, and the ability to cater spikes in traffic easily. Here’s an illustration that’s similar to how we hosted our application on AWS.
While the deployment is quite straightforward, mapping the DNS was a bit of a challenge. For starters, all traffic needed to be routed via the Elastic Load Balancer (ELB). To accomplish this, we first directed our domain (www.ourwebsite.com) to the ELB, using a CNAME record . Additionally, since the domain exists as two forms, we had to forward ourwebsite.com to www.ourwebsite.com. This ensured that anyone hitting the traffic was first directed to www.ourwebsite.com, and then to the ELB.
This was a minor change that, unfortunately, took us more than two weeks to sort out. Part of the reason was the steady stream of traffic on our website – traffic that we didn’t want to disrupt in any way.
While the experience was a bit frustrating, it did provide insights into the intricacies of domains and hosting. Underneath the ‘click and setup’ interface, it’s complexity is fascinating.