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ICANN Installs Root Server Cluster in Singapore

16 September 2020
By David Conrad

I am pleased to update our community on the installation of an ICANN Managed Root Server (IMRS) cluster in Singapore. This new cluster will help to increase the root server capacity for the Asia Pacific region and bolster the resiliency of the entire Root Server System.

What is an IMRS cluster?

There are 13 root server identities in the world. ICANN org manages one of them, the IMRS, previously known as the L-Root. The IMRS is made up of independent machines located at nearly 170 large and small sites across the world. An IMRS cluster refers to a large site, composed of dozens of servers with substantial Internet connectivity. Clusters have considerable capacity to answer Domain Name System (DNS) queries.

While the capacity of IMRS clusters is useful in times of normal query load, this becomes critical in times of larger-than-normal load. For example, this capacity is essential during distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks when the IMRS is flooded with traffic.

Why Asia? Why Singapore?

We believe that our decision to add an IMRS cluster in Singapore is both strategic and a good use of ICANN org resources. There are three IMRS clusters – two in North America and one in Europe. The upcoming fourth cluster in Singapore will help address existing and anticipated increases in demand for root services in the Asia Pacific region.

Our existing IMRS sites in the Asia Pacific region already receive twice as many queries as Europe, the next-busiest region. The IMRS cluster in Singapore will provide a significant increase in overall resiliency for the IMRS by allowing queries originating in Asia Pacific to be answered regardless of the behavior of networks or servers in other regions. Also, this deployment is a timely exercise against the backdrop of the global COVID-19 pandemic, as DNS traffic has increased by nearly 30% during lockdowns across the world.

In the event of an attack resulting in significant additional traffic, the extra capacity provided by the Singapore cluster will allow the traffic to be absorbed and help mitigate the attack. With sufficient capacity, queries in the Asia Pacific region can then continue to be answered, minimizing or eliminating downtime caused by an inability to access root service.

Our Asia Pacific regional office is located in Singapore, where the Internet infrastructure is highly developed and robust, making it well-suited to support an IMRS cluster. In addition, the country is extremely well connected via submarine cables. We are grateful to the Singapore government for its support in establishing the IMRS cluster.

What's next?

My team is working on a study to better understand where siting new IMRS instances within the network topology would provide the most benefit to users. We will continue to monitor and add more clusters as needed. If you wish to learn more, I encourage you to read this overview of the Root Server System (OCTO-010) published in May and available in several languages.


David Conrad

David Conrad