Google launched a DNS service today, almost exactly four years after I started OpenDNS. This comes as no surprise as it was only a matter of time before one of the Internet giants realized the strategic importance of DNS. I’ve received a lot of questions from bloggers, journalists, friends and most importantly, our users. And so I want to share my thoughts on what this means for the recursive DNS space and what it means for OpenDNS.

First, it’s not the same as OpenDNS. When you use Google DNS, you are getting the experience they prescribe. When you use OpenDNS, you get the Dashboard controls to manage your experience the way you want for you, your family or your organization. People use OpenDNS because we are pioneers and innovators in the DNS space, offering the most secure recursive DNS service around. We run the largest DNS caches, the fastest resolvers, and we offer the most flexibility in controlling your DNS experience. For example, IT folks want to block malware in the DNS, parents sometimes want to block certain content from kids. All of that and more is possible with our DNS. It is not with Google DNS. Of course, we don’t force those things, we offer them as controls that you manage the way you see fit. Providing people with choice is core to our offerings.

Second, it means that Google realizes that DNS is a critical piece of our Internet’s infrastructure and that it’s of strategic importance to help people safely and reliably navigate the Internet. This is something we’ve championed since day one and will always keep as our primary mission. This is why big enterprise customers are switching to OpenDNS too, not because it’s free but because it’s the best and we add value to DNS and improve the security of their networks.

Third, Google claims that this service is better because it has no ads or redirection. But you have to remember they are also the largest advertising and redirection company on the Internet. To think that Google’s DNS service is for the benefit of the Internet would be naive. They know there is value in controlling more of your Internet experience and I would expect them to explore that fully. And of course, we always have protected user privacy and have never sold our DNS data. Here’s a link to our privacy policy.

Fourth, it means that Google is bringing awareness to a wide audience that there is a choice when it comes to DNS and that users don’t have to settle for what their ISP provides. And we believe that having choice is a good thing — just as Internet users have unbundled their email to services like Gmail, Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail people have been unbundling their DNS and switching to OpenDNS in huge numbers for the last 3+ years because we’re better.

Fifth, it’s not clear that Internet users really want Google to keep control over so much more of their Internet experience than they do already — from Chrome OS at the bottom of the stack to Google Search at the top, it is becoming an end-to-end infrastructure all run by Google, the largest advertising company in the world. I prefer a heterogeneous Internet with lots of parties collaborating to make this thing work as opposed to an Internet run by one big company.

So how will this impact us? It’s too early to tell, but largely I think this is a good thing for us. Google DNS currently offers none of the choice and flexibility that our service does. It’s new and untested. Having said that, it encourages us to keep making our service better. And ultimately, we’re a business that has been growing aggressively since we launched and has been competing in fair markets and winning. It raises awareness about the importance of DNS and it motivates us to continue providing world-class services to a global audience and to keep innovating.

We will continue to do that without distraction from Google or any of the other players in the DNS or security space. But we welcome Google to the neighborhood.

UPDATE: See more information about how we stack up against Google Public DNS here.

Tagged with: