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Benefits of DNS Based Architecture for M2M Communications

The number of 'things' connected to the internet is already bypassing the number of people on the planet. This Internet of 'things' is changing the way we live and work: from the way food is grown and produced on farms through automated temperature and feeding controls, to the way we check prices and buy through connected terminals, to the vehicles we drive, the security cameras at work, and automated gates at the entrance. Connected 'things' are everywhere. All these 'things' are helping us to be more productive and efficient while also offering more and more convenience.

The demand for these connected 'things' is creating an exploding demand for the M2M (Machine to Machine) communication system since the 'things' need to communicate among themselves or with a central controller, most often wirelessly. This M2M wireless communication demand is changing wireless operators' business models. Human users normally use high data rates and yield high ARPU, while most M2M communications generate much less data but also yields much lower ARPU. Wireless carriers now need to support many more of these low ARPU 'things' than they had designed their network to handle.

Although data demands from humans and M2Ms differ, further complicating the matter is the fact that each creates about the same amount of signaling load with current network designs. Since signaling traffic is generally not monetized, this load creates immense pressure on mobile operators. Hence, mobile operators need to rethink signaling traffic and implement lightweight policy-based controls for the M2M communications.

The 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) is creating standards for M2M that state that devices should not need MSISDNs (Mobile Subscriber ISDN Numbers), and thus the traditional way of addressing mobile devices through their phone numbers is no longer applicable. Although the IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) can be used by an operator to locate a desired device, it is undesirable to use this identifier by anyone outside the operator's domain because eavesdroppers can potentially identify and misuse customer information. Therefore, to identify devices outside of the operator's domain it is required that all devices be assigned static host names that can be used to always reach the device. This creates requirements for DDNS to store the mapping between these names and IP addresses while also mandating the use of DNS queries to locate the communication end points. Considering the sheer amount of M2M devices and projected traffic, it is important that the DNS is able to handle billions of records and thousands of DDNS updates per second while maintaining low latency and high performance to allow for fast and reliable M2M communications.

Other features important for M2M are policies to control the enormous volume of M2M communications and how to handle operational issues, such as misbehaving or stolen devices. Implementation of these policies at the DNS server can provide a lightweight and efficient way for operators to control traffic and access patterns without any in-line overhead and extra equipment. Further, DNS policies can easily be made flexible and extensible to allow for various controls (such as a time based control, an access control, etc.)

There are many other issues with M2M communications (such as heavy traffic demands on P-GWs (Packet Gateways)) that can benefit from a proper DNS-based APN (Access Point Name) architecture. We will address those and dive deeper into the DNS guidelines for M2M communications in future posts, so stay tuned.

By Manjari Asawa, Mobile Product Manager at Nominum
Related topics: DNS, Mobile Internet

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