Abhay Rana aka Nemo

How does the sdslabs.co.in domain name work?

A very common asked question is about our domain name and how does it work locally. When we launched filepanda, and our preliminary homepage a long time ago, we had been using the easy to remember IP address http://192.168.208.208.

Now, however we are using the domain name sdslabs.co.in for all our services, including DC. To understand how this works, you will have to understand how the name resolution of a domain name takes place.

The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical distributed naming system for computers, services, or any resource connected to the Internet or a private network. It associates various information with domain names assigned to each of the participating entities.

- Wikipedia

DNS is basically a service which resolves domain names to IP addresses. If you own a domain name, you can point it to wherever you want. This is usually done in the administration panel of your hosting services. We have setup multiple domains on our nameserver (mitsu.in as of the moment) to point to the IP address 192.168.208.x.

For instance sdslabs.co.in points to 192.168.208.208, echo.sdslabs.co.in points to 192.168.208.204 and so on. This is done via updating something called A records (this is the part of resolution which transaltes to IPv4 addresses).

The benifits of having such a system in place are enormous:

  • Users don’t have to remember IP addresses, and can easily remember the site address.
  • We can move around services, applications over different machines, and it will only take a single update to change the name resolutions
  • We could add alternative fallback servers easily (by having multiple A record entries) for a domain. We could even use this to point sdslabs.co.in domain to something that is hosted online, for instance.
  • We can have catchy, and simple to remember urls for eg https://sdslabs.co.in/login, and https://sdslabs.co.in/logout

Also, we are running all our services on https, which is not dependent upon the visibility of the website. Even though the site is hosted locally, the process of certificate signing remains exactly the same as any other site. Once we aquire a SSL certificate and attach it to our web-server, the visibility of the domain does not matter to the browser at all.

Note: For the benifit of those not in IIT Roorkee, we are running multiple web-service on the domain sdslabs.co.in, which is only served locally, as it resolves to a local IP address (192.168.208.208)

Caveat: Several DNS servers wil block RFC1913 responses by default (basically any DNS response in the private IP ranges). This is usually disabled in the intranet scenarios, but something to keep in mind if you’re looking to use this solution.

Published on July 27, 2014 in