Managing an Internet outage

Dawn Connelly dawn.connelly at
Mon May 12 02:09:45 UTC 2008

My guess is that he is trying to prevent calls to his helpdesk saying "Hey,
I can't get to XYZ. Did you know it's down? When is it going to be back up?"
If the customer gets an "Oops, we are broken. Please check back in X amount
of time." their helpdesk won't get flooded with calls. I know that I have my
resources set up so that there is a monitor both on and off the network
poling and if the pole fails a specified threshold customers get redirected
to an oops page. It significantly cut down on our BS calls to the helpdesk.
It also makes it look more professional to your them that
warm fuzzy "proactive" feel.

On Sun, May 11, 2008 at 4:56 PM, Damien Hull <dhull at>

> This might be a dumb question but won't people know you are down when they
> can't access the website?
> I think messing with DNS every time the net connection goes down is asking
> for trouble. If you make a mistake you could be down for hours. Think of all
> the email you would loose.
> On the other hand you would only need to change the A record for the
> website. Assuming you have access to a master DNS server.
> The real trouble is that the TTL would have to be set to something like 30
> minutes or less. Other wise you won't get things switch over in time. You
> might have people going to the backup site when your real website is back
> online.
> Again, I think messing with DNS is not a good idea.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Damien Hull" <dhull at>
> To: "Dawn Connelly" <dawn.connelly at>
> Cc: comp-protocols-dns-bind at, "Mike Diggins" <diggins at>
> Sent: Sunday, May 11, 2008 2:28:06 PM GMT -09:00 Alaska
> Subject: Re: Managing an Internet outage
> Why not go with a master and slave DNS configuration? This is the way DNS
> should work.
> 1. The master DNS server is the one that updates all the other DNS servers
> 2. The save gets it's info from the master
> 3. Any changes on the master get pushed or pulled to the slave DNS servers
> 4. Place your save DNS servers off site
> If your internet connection goes down you don't need to do anything to the
> slave DNS server. It's got the correct info.
> I'm assuming you have a backup email server off site as well. Assuming
> your MX records are correct the backup email server will start receiving
> email.
> Your website won't be available while your internet connection is down but
> I don't see that as a big deal. Unless you are providing something critical.
> When your internet connection comes back you will start receiving email
> and your website will be available. Any email that was on the backup email
> server will be delivered to your main email server.
> This is the way things should be configured.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Dawn Connelly" <dawn.connelly at>
> To: "Mike Diggins" <diggins at>
> Cc: comp-protocols-dns-bind at
> Sent: Sunday, May 11, 2008 12:46:52 PM GMT -09:00 Alaska
> Subject: Re: Managing an Internet outage
> Best practice is to always make sure that your authoritative DNS servers
> are
> on physically different networks so your boss is right in thinking this
> needs to happen. Couple things to consider. If your master DNS server is
> down, you'll need to reconfigure the offsite machine to be primary so you
> can change the DNS resolution. Not a big deal but make sure to include
> that
> step in your DR plan. You have control over your TTLs. You can drop them
> to
> 10 minutes (or whatever your SLAs dictate) in the event of a network
> outage
> so you can recover faster but not always have the increased load. Mail
> will
> queue on the email servers that are trying to send it for awhile if it
> can't
> contact your mail server so that buys you some time too. You might want to
> leave your MX resolution to the correct machine IP address even in your
> failure state to make sure that mail queues on the remote end and to make
> sure it sends as soon as the network is back up. It would be better if you
> had an email server as your DR site with a higher weight though from a
> best
> practice stand point. Also some ISPs tend to just cache one authoritative
> DNS server and continually try to hit it over and over even if it's down.
> The only thing you can do to fix that is ask the ISP to clear their cache.
> Road Runner has burned me with that multiple times.
> So your DR plan would look something like this:
> Network outage is detected.
> Stand-by named.conf file swapped on offsite machine to reference outage
> zone
> files and configure machine as master
> Outage zone files include the following records:
> @ 600 IN A <IP address of "We are broken" webserver>
> @ 3600 IN MX 10 <IP address of email server>
> * 600 IN A <IP address of "We are broken" webserver>
> Once failure has been cleared, stand-by named.conf is swapped back with
> original file and named is restarted.
> You can script this to happen automatically if you have a monitoring
> system
> in place with some peril scripts or you can do it manually. You can also
> look at products that do all of this for you automagically. The Global
> Traffic Manager by F5 (Big-IP GTM) is the one I'm most familiar with but
> I'm
> sure other's on this list could give other examples too. The GTM box will
> continually test access to your resources and as soon as they become
> unavailable they will hand out whatever information you have configured as
> your fallback IP address.
> On Sun, May 11, 2008 at 12:31 PM, Mike Diggins <diggins at>
> wrote:
> >
> > We occasionally have a situation where our Internet access is completely
> > down. My Manager has asked about the viability of locating a DNS server
> > off site, and during a situation when we're down, modifying it so that
> it
> > resolves my entire domain to a single IP address. Web users would be
> > redirected to that address, and a web page would explain we're off line.
> >
> > Our DNS TTL is set to 1 hour, however, I'm concerned that sites might
> > cache that address for longer than the TTL, and affect things such as
> mail
> > delivery beyond the outage. Does anyone have an opinion on this plan?
> > Obviously improving our redundancy is a better solution, and that will
> > come in time. Right now this seems like a quick and easy (dirty)
> solution.
> >
> > -Mike
> >
> >

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