Domains and IP Addresses

To fully capitalize the benefits of your business’s on-line presence, you must understand the relationships among domains, IP addresses, Internet Service Providers (ISP), and Website Hosting Providers(WHP). Every connection to the Internet is assigned a unique number. This number is four sets of numbers from 0 to 255; e.g. 17.134.206.4 roughly four billion possible numbers. Internet “players” have already purchased most all of these numbers. Today, there are very few numbers still available and are beyond expensive.

If your connection is through an ISP, you actually request a lease of an IP address. This lease typically is for 8 to 14 days. Half way through your lease, your computer will request a renewal, which is usually granted. If you turn off your machine and go on vacation for say, twenty days, and your lease expires, your computer simply requests a new lease. This is called dynamic IP address allocation and is how AT&T can service ten million customers while owning only eight million IP addresses. Everything Internet is over-subscribed.

For an additional cost you can be assigned a “static” IP address, yours forever as long as you keep paying the bill. The naked truth is,the little guy can rarely own an IP address. IP addresses are owned by the big Internet players. What is of more interest to businesses, is owning their own domain name that can be branded and marketed. While the physical guts of the Internet operate using IP addresses, the human interaction on the Web is with domain names. The Software Standard Company owns the domain name softstd.com and softwarestandard.us. Type either name into your web browser and our home page will appear. This happens through an essential service called Domain Name Services (DNS). When the browser needs to convert the domain name to an IP address, the browser contacts a Domain Name Server to resolve the domain name to an IP address.

Here is an over simplified example of the process:

The root server is queried for the .com domain name server. Root servers contain a list of DNS servers for all the top level domains; e.g..com, .us, .uk, .net, .edu, or .mil . In the example the top level domain of .com is wanted and its IP address is returned.

The .com domain name service is queried for softstd.com. The IP address of the GoDaddy.com domain name service is returned and that server is queried for softstd.com.
Finally, the IP address associated with the softstd.com domain is returned. A router at that address will determine whether to forward the browser request to a web page server or an email server. GoDaddy is a Web Hosting provider. They own many computers hooked into high capacity Internet connections,called a server farm, selling small pieces of this aggregation to organizations and individuals.

In the early days of the World Wide Web, the DNS service was like any other social service; entities out of the kindness of their hearts provided these services. The commercialization of W3 changed all that. The Software Standard Company pays about $20 dollars a year to register the domain softstd.com. The fee is paid to GoDaddy. Part of the fee goes to ICANN to maintain the name in the .com DNS registry. The rest of the fee stays with GoDaddy to maintain the DNS server that ultimately resolves the requests for the softstd.com IP address. That IP address is owned by GoDaddy.

You are required to provide email addresses and a phone number when registering your domain name with ICANN. The email addresses are for public contact with you concerning site administrative and technical issues. Some domain registrars offer a privacy service, forwarding legitimate administrative/technical queries to domain owners for a fee. Otherwise these email addresses will eventually make it into the hands of spammers, so use one of your public email accounts that has a decent spam filter. Though your web hosting provider has some immunity from your actions, they can share some legal liabitity with you. If you violate any local, state, or federal law, your web hosting provider will get involved long before ICANN or the Feds and shut you down.

Why can’t I use a static IP address from my ISP to host my own web pages at my place of business? In fact you can, with the permission of your ISP. BUT… Remember the ISP owns the IP address of your access connection. Your ISP must agree to allow a foreign domain (www.yourwebsite.com) on their owned IP address, forward DNS queries through it’s infrastructure to your DNS server or handle DNS queries for you, pass email packets to and from your email server, and pass HTML page constructions from your web server, quite possibly orders of magnitude more data handling than they would see from a normal user. This is why static IP addresses are so expensive.
Most ISPs routinely block incoming DNS queries and outgoing email packets and HTML response packets. Another downside to this approach is available bandwidth. Rarely does an ISP actually provide their “up to” advertised bandwidth, and NEVER on the upload side which your on-site servers would employ. Analyze server COO (cost of operation) and ROI(return on investment) versus web hosting if you must, but if you are just starting out, a reputable nationwide/global web hosting service is the way to go to get your business on-line.

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