Adventures in AWS, DNS, and IPv6

by Jeff Loughridge

This post describes how I used AWS Elastic Load Balancers and Route 53 to enable IPv6 connectivity to the zone apex of my company’s domain.

Recently I moved my company’s page to Amazon’s AWS. I needed IPv6 support, and the hosting company I was using kept promising IPv6 in 2 to 3 months but never delivered. I used the process I outlined in a previous post to make my site reachable via IPv6 using Elastic Load Balancers. I recommend reading that post before continuing if you don’t know how to do this.

In implementing IPv6 connectivity for my site, I stumbled on a problem that I had not considered. The URL for my company is The URL is already long; I don’t want to put on company material, email signature, and business card. The “naked” domain, meaning the top of the zone, is called the zone apex. Per RFC 1034, CNAMEs cannot co-exist with required NS and SOA records. The IPv6 hack using AWS Elastic Load Balancers needs a CNAME. Fortunately, AWS does some proprietary magic and accommodates CNAMEs at the zone apex (see announcement here).

You must use AWS’s Route 53 tool for your zone. This wasn’t a problem for me. I prefer Route 53’s zone management GUI over GoDaddy’s. I realized that the Route 53 GUI appears not to support AWS’s on-the-fly conversion from CNAME to A/AAAA record. I had to use the CLI tools to add the records. I used the elb-associate-route53-hosted-zone command twice–once with the –rr-type A (the default) and once with the –rr-type AAAA flag–to add the entry. For more information, check out this section of the Elastic Load Balancing Developer Guide.

I posted a question to ServerFault to see if there was a way to perform the association in the Route 53 GUI. Jesper Mortensen provided a very helpful response. He believes the association can’t be made in the GUI.

Does all of this sound daunting? Well, I probably took a more difficult path than necessary. I’ve read that DNS30 has a GUI to manage Route 53 that includes a method to instruct Route 53 to do the CNAME to A/AAAA record conversion. You may want to take this approach, especially if you don’t already have the EC2 and Load Balancing API tools installed on your system.

In responding to my question at ServerFault, Jesper pointed out that there is an effort underway to standardize the use of CNAMEs at the zone apex. The Internet Draft is here.


UPDATE (1/5/2012) – A friendly engineer from the AWS Route 53 team contacted me and provided instructions for creating alias resource record sets in the Route 53 console. I confirmed that these work.

Here are the steps.

1. click create record set
2. for zone apex record just leave the name field blank
3. select the type of alias you want to make A or AAAA (all steps after this are the same for both types)
4. Select the yes radio button.
5. Open the EC2 console in another tab and navigate to the list of your load balancers.
6. Click on the load balancer and look at the description tab in the pane below the list. Sample output below

DNS Name: (A Record) (AAAA Record) (A or AAAA Record)

Note: Because the set of IP addresses associated with a LoadBalancer can change over time,
you should never create an “A” record with any specific IP address. If you want to use a friendly
DNS name for your LoadBalancer instead of the name generated by the Elastic Load Balancing
service, you should create a CNAME record for the LoadBalancer DNS name, or use Amazon Route 53
to create a hosted zone. For more information, see the Using Domain Names With Elastic Load Balancing

Status: 0 of 0 instances in service

Port Configuration: 80 (HTTP) forwarding to 80 (HTTP)

Stickiness: Disabled(edit)

Availability Zones:

Source Security Group:

Owner Alias: amazon-elb

Hosted Zone ID:

7. Now copy the Hosted zone ID in the above case ‘ Z3DZXD0Q79N41H’ and paste it into the field labeled ‘Alias Hosted Zone ID:’
8. Now copy the DNS Name in the above case ‘‘ and paste into the field ‘ Alias DNS Name:’
-Just an FYI this DNS name is the same for both A and AAAA alias records. (do not use ‘‘)
9. Click create record set or at this time you can select yes to weight the record and provide a weight between 0-255 and a setID such as ‘my load balancer’

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4 Comments to “Adventures in AWS, DNS, and IPv6”

  1. Nice Article…….
    Resource Record Set can also be managed using DNS30 Pro-Edition.You can create and delete resource record set using this tool.DNS30 Pro-Edition provide User Interface to Amazon Route53.

  2. Anonymous – Thanks for providing details on the DNS30 solution.

  3. Amazon has improved this process since your post. After completing step #4 (click the ‘YES’ radio button), click on the “Alias Target” field to view a drop-down of eligible elastic load balancers associated with your account. Select one and click “Create.” Simple!

  4. splittingelectrons – Great info. Thank you.

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