• How nTLD Operators can Succeed with RegistrarOC

    September 29, 2011 // No Comments »

    In my series of posts on new TLDs, the goal has always been to inform and provide insight, from the perspective of a registrar.  With there being so much focus on ICANN and on registry operators during the initial stages of the nTLD process, we felt the voice of the registrar needed to be heard.  This is because, from our perspective, success for any new TLD will greatly depend on its support of registrars.

    My first post, “Does HEXONET Have Plans to be a REGISTRY Operator for newTLDs?“, was intended to make it clear that as a long standing registrar, our goal is to make any nTLD a success by doing what we have always done, by being a great registrar and nothing more.  My second post, “Choosing a Registry Operator for New TLDs“, was done to help prospective registry operators think critically about there registry platform, probably the single biggest decision that will affect their registry today and for years to come.  I wanted to give some key insights on registry platforms from our nearly ten years of operational knowledge as a registrar working with these various solutions and technologies.

    Making It Easy for Registrars to Start Selling Your nTLD

    Today’s post is to take the next step beyond the ICANN process and registry platforms, to start talking about registrars, the gatekeepers to the end customer.  For a prospective registry, the biggest questions about registrars is how to get as many of them on board as quickly as possible.  Most registrars are very busy selling domains, supporting domains, managing systems, and simply running their business.  And for many registrars, engineering resources are tight or non-existent.  As a result, for registrars, choosing to implement a nTLD requires a substantial return on investment.

    Given that even adding one nTLD for a registrar is a commitment, how will the possibility of  three, four or ten nTLD introductions in a given year affect that choice?  Registry operators need to be cognizant of possible slow registrar acceptance and implementation.  Sounds a bit scary right?  The good news is that HEXONET has a solution called RegistrarOC (Registrar Operations Center) that helps registrar’s quickly, easily, and cost-effectively add any new TLD.

    Help for Registrars in a Crowded nTLD Marketplace

    Potentially hundreds of nTLDs will be available over the next years.  Some of them are listed below.  A  more complete list of declared and potential applicants has been published by Kieren McCarthy, CEO of .NXT.

    • Community new TLDs: .eco, .gay, .gmbh, .fam, .love, .poker, …etc.
    • geo newTLDs: .tokyo, .nyc, .berlin, .paris, .sfo, .scot, .bcn, .china, …etc.
    • .brand newTLDs: .canon, .hitachi, .post, .motorola, .aigo, …etc.
    • generic newTLDs: .app, .bank, .bike, .food, .free, .music, .web, .videos, …etc.

    What if there was a way for registrars to simply add a nTLD to their sales system with little or no technical effort for registry integration, testing and on-going maintenance?  In this scenario, registrars can then offer a nTLD as soon it is available, even offer pre-registration!  This is exactly how HEXONET’s RegistrarOC solution helps registry operators and registrars.


    HEXONET’s RegistrarOC solution takes away all the technical and engineering overhead for registrars.  Designed to be plug and play, once a registrar is connected with the RegistrarOC solution, adding a nTLD is as simple as throwing a switch (add an accreditation and go!).  We even help and guide new businesses become accredited or help existing registrars quickly add new accreditations.

    HEXONET has successfully managed a comprehensive and extensive portfolio of gTLDs  and ccTLDs accreditations for nearly a decade.  We specialize in inter-operating with all the registry platforms at industry leading reliability and performance.  So with RegistrarOC, not only do registrars plug in to the technology, but more importantly, they also plug in to all the operational and engineering expertise garnered by HEXONET over the years.

    How Does RegistrarOC Work?

    Customers Responsibilities:

    • Integrate with HEXONET’s systems to manage your domains (Add, Transfer, Renew, Modify, ..etc) using a multitude one or a combination of interfaces: Mailrobot,  EPP 1.0, HTTPS-API, SOAP, XML/RPC and Web Interface
    • Execute the RAA (Registrar-Accreditation-Agreement) with a respective registry
    • Maintain a good standing with the Registry and ICANN
    • Execute an Agreement with a Registrar Data Escrow Supplier (e.g. Iron Mountain)
    • Pay your registry and ICANN Invoices

    HEXONET Responsibilities:

    • Conduct OT&E testing with the respective registry
    • Technically manage your production account
    • Ensure your accreditation is always up to date with the latest registry technical developments (DNSSEC, IPv6, …etc.)
    • Ensure you are in compliance with various ICANN requirements, such as RDE (Registrar Data Escrow), WDRP (Whois-Data-Reminder-Policy), …etc.
    • Ensure your data is always in-sync with the registry – a highly underestimated task by registrars that is potential very expensive future cost

    If you are interested in learning more then either visit the “RegistrarOC” solutions page or send us an email at sales@hexonet.net.  We would be happy to arrange a quick conference call to explain the product in more detail.

    Posted in 1API GmbH, Domains, General, HEXONET, New TLDs, Popular Domains, Technology

    Choosing a Registry Operator for New TLDs

    September 14, 2011 // No Comments »

    Though HEXONET has no plans to become a Registry Operator ourselves (see recent posting), as an experienced registrar, we have some interesting insights on the operator choices.  For those planning on launching a new TLD, this post may be of keen interest.

    How HEXONET Would Choose a Registry Operator for a new Top-Level-Domain:

    • HEXONET would choose a Registry Operator with a proven track record, who clearly has had success managing multiple TLDs.  In respect to managing, this means more than 50,000 domains for any one registry.  We highly recommend NOT choosing a Registry Operator who is doing this for the first time.
    • Preferably the Registry Operator would already have experience managing a gTLD (generic Top-Level-Domain) and already implemented many of ICANN’s procedural policies including processes like transactional redemption periods.  Not a must-have but a nice-to-have.
    • Preferably the Registry Operator already has an existing distribution network (depending on the respective TLD and your business plan, this is NOT a MUST)
    • Choose a Registry Operator with a mature infrastructure so that you can push them on price (economies of scale).  A new Registry Operator will have higher capital inputs to recoup and hence likely inflexible on pricing terms.
    • Choose a Registry Operator who can offer reliable and proven DNS Services. A solid DNS infrastructure is crucial.  Make sure the DNS infrastructure is an Anycast solution with a minimum of 6 different DNS cluster installations (preferably 9 cluster locations).
    • The Registry Operator should have their own in-house registry software that they developed.  Operators that purchased their software may not be able to support functional changes you want or may in fact prevent you from developing future services.
    • Ensure the Registry Operator is known to provide direct and personalized service.  With hundreds of new TLDs, some registry operators may simply treat you like a number.  Be sure the Registry Operator can accommodate and also time-line new development or registry feature requests for your TLD.  Being proactive and having the Registry Operator detail how they will support you can save your TLD from being left in the dust.
    • The performance of the registry platform is critical for the success of a registry. Slower performing platforms can lead to slow domain searches and potentially even slower response times for more intensive registry transactions.  Factor in load considerations also, since the more new TLDs a Registry Operator adds to its platform, the more additional TLDs will impact yours.  A good rule of thumb is the 0.3 second mark.  If the round trip times for commands take longer than this, be wary.
    • Choose a Registry Operator who is willing to back up their platform and services with a tight SLA (Service-Level-Agreement).
    • Lastly, even though price plays an important role, the cheapest option is likely not the best option. Think and plan ahead of the initial launch and proactively define the goals of the TLD for 1, 2, 3, 5, and 10 years.  Determine which Registry Operator has the best platform and team to help your TLD achieve its goals.  Again, the cheapest solution may only come back to bite your in your backside.

    HEXONET easily integrate with following Registry Operators for New TLDs Awarded to Them:

    • The above list are just a few and does not include all registry operators that will be offering registry services.  HEXONET would be able to integrate with any registry.  The above registries would simplify work on our end.

    HEXONET can Assist:

    In the event, that you are interested in applying for a newTLD and you would like to get in touch with one of the above registries, please reach out to us and we would be more than happy to make an introduction.  Applying for your own TLD is a big step with a lot of investment.  If you are unsure of the technology, please feel free to contact us and we would happily give you a quote to provide technical guidance.

    Posted in 1API GmbH, Domains, General, HEXONET, New TLDs

    Does HEXONET Have Plans to be a REGISTRY Operator for newTLDS?

    September 13, 2011 // No Comments »

    Since ICANN’s approval of new Top-Level-Domains, HEXONET has been constantly asked the following question – “Does HEXONET have plans to be a registry operator for new Top-Level-Domains?“.

    Answer:  Why Re-invent the Wheel?

    Even though HEXONET is known for engineering expertise and technical excellence throughout the domain industry, being a registry operator is currently not in our plans.  This is because HEXONET believes that the current set of registry operators are best suited to service the up and coming new Top-Level-Domains.  The leading registry operators have the knowledge, infrastructure, capacity, and most importantly, the experience for any new TLD to achieve success.

    HEXONET has achieved our own success by working with registry operators in innovative ways.  We continue to run a highly reliable, lightning fast registrar platform that offers a vast selections of TLDs (one of the widest selections industry-wide).  Additionally, we plan to fully integrate our powerful Registrar Operations Center (RegistrarOC) solution with all the new Top-Level-Domains.

    For HEXONET, success of any TLD, be it new or existing, requires success throughout the deliver chain – registry, registry operator, and registrar.  And our commitment is to work with the registry operators so that HEXONET can be one of the best at the registrar level.  Our goal has always been to be the best registrar for resellers and to build the best turn-key solutions for registrars (RegistrarOC) so that anyone can quickly add any TLD (new or existing) without the engineering headache and overhead.

    Many companies utterly fail by trying to do too much or chase after something new.  HEXONET has been on same course for over a decade, which is to be an exceedingly good registrar and domain platform developer.  The road ahead for HEXONET is straight and narrow.

    Posted in 1API GmbH, Domains, HEXONET, New TLDs, Popular Domains

    ICANN Approves Historic Changes to the Internet

    June 20, 2011 // No Comments »

    ICANN Approves Historic Change to Internet’s Domain Name System
    Board Votes to Launch New Generic Top-Level Domains

    Singapore | ICANN’s Board of Directors has approved a plan to usher in one of the biggest changes ever to the Internet’s Domain Name System. The Board vote was 13 approving, 1 opposed, and 2 abstaining.

    During a special meeting, the Board approved a plan to dramatically increase the number of Internet domain name endings — called generic top-level domains (gTLDs) — from the current 22, which includes such familiar domains as .com, .org and .net.

    “ICANN has opened the Internet’s naming system to unleash the global human imagination. Today’s decision respects the rights of groups to create new Top Level Domains in any language or script. We hope this allows the domain name system to better serve all of mankind,” said Rod Beckstrom, President and Chief Executive Officer of ICANN.

    Read the entire Press Release at http://www.icann.org/ and experience the excitement in the room at the time of the vote.  Many individuals and organizations have been working towards this goal for many years now.  Congrats to all!

    Source: http://www.icann.org

    Posted in Domains, General, New TLDs

    “Three Lessons We Can Learn from the gTLDs’ Past”

    November 24, 2010 // No Comments »

    An excellent article written by Alexa Raad, former CEO of PIR (Public Interest Registry – .ORG) on “Lessons learned from the gTLDs’ Past”.

    A MUST read article if you are thinking of applying for a new TLD.

    Posted in New TLDs

    ICANN Regional Meeting and More Questions on nTLDs

    August 25, 2009 // No Comments »

    ICANN Regional Meeting – Toronto, Canada

    Thanks to ICANN for hosting the North America Regional meeting at the Sheraton in downtown Toronto, Canada.  This event was done first class and was in my opinion a highly successful meeting.  A special thanks goes out to Afilias for sponsoring the “Blue Jays” vs. “Red-Sox” baseball game at Rogers Centre, it was a blast.

    At this regional ICANN meeting many interesting topics were covered.  Some topics though not at the foremost of my mind, surprisingly were not only highly interesting but very informative.  The topics were:

    • ICANN Policy
    • Terminated Registrar Transition Process
    • new gTLDs
    • Contractual Compliance
    • Registry/Registrar Dialogue
    • Update on the Registrar Constituency
    • Security Issues
    • National Cyber Forensic Training Alliance (NCFTA) & FBI

    Among all the topics, the new TLD process continues to dominate mind share as expected.  Specifically for nTLDs, my take away from the meeting in Toronto, was that the next draft guidebook for applicants should be ready prior to the ICANN meeting in Seoul in late October. So it looks like full steam ahead for nTLDs!

    With so many TLDs (estimate 100 – 200 plus) presumably in queue for filing (.food, .wine, .blog, .movie, .eco … ), I would really like to get some insight on how these new TLDs will be introduced.  Moreover, if applications are to  be approved in batches, in what order will these approved TLDs be released and in what groupings.  Questions that come to mind are:

    a. Will there be a specific order in which new TLDs are launched?

    b. If yes, what is the criteria in determining launch order?  Will the criteria be open and reviewable?

    c. If there is no order and it becomes “Launch whenever ready”, what potential confusion could there be to the market if too many nTLDs are released in the same month?  How will the market be able to compensate this?

    d. Other open questions?  YES!

    A License to Print Money

    One big lesson everyone is learning now from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, is that free money is not free.  The loosening of restrictions in the housing market (anyone could get a house or borrow against their home) let the unqualified to buy and borrow, which in the end (when they couldn’t pay their debts) started the collapse of the house market.  In some ways, there are parallels in the way we are treating nTLDs.

    Not to say the applicants for nTLDs are not qualified, but more importantly, to point out the fact that running a successful registry today is increasingly more difficult.  The days of simply opening a registry and seeing millions of registrations are long gone.  Yes the days of “printing money” in my opinion are over, unless you have a unique concept.

    I believe our industry is projecting the idea that running a registry is easy – No experience necessary, work only a little, make big money!  Without giving applicants a dose of the operational reality of running a successful registry, we are only increasing the chances of having more of them fail.  When enough nTLDs fail, just like the housing bubble burst, everyone will get hurt.

    Posted in Domains, General, New TLDs

    Unifying ccTLDs

    August 6, 2009 // 1 Comment »

    The Good, Bad and the Ugly

    Being an active and vocal participant in the Domain industry for the better part of a decade has allowed me to see both the good and bad in our business.  Of the good things, in fact very good, has been country-code top level domains (ccTLDs).  Country-code TLDs are simple to understand, easily associated with, and even evoke a sense of ownership (patriotism), which is the perfect formula for a successful TLD.

    Though ccTLDs have been good for our industry, the single glaring problem with them has been the lack of standards across the ccTLD registries.  Understanding issues of culture, nationalism, and some registries just wanting to be different, this doesn’t take away the fact that with a standard (EPP) there would invariably be more registrars offering a wider selection of ccTLDs.  And with greater availability, access and distribution of ccTLDs, it’s not hard to imagine ccTLDs numbers looking completely different than they do today.  Until the ccTLD registries can be unified, registrars will have neither the time nor money to consider but a handful of ccTLDs at a time.

    Climbing the Mountain

    Even without a standard, HEXONET has taken on the arduous task of bringing all the world’s ccTLD registries under one roof.  Today, HEXONET’s ccTLD EPP platform allows resellers and registrars alike to access over 150 ccTLDs from one source.  Yes over 150 via EPP!  And the list continues to grow.

    To provide this service, HEXONET has for many few years been obtaining a vast array of accreditations, investing substantial capital into registry accounts, building up critical operational and engineering expertise about each and every registry, and last but not least, poured thousands of engineering hours into developing an EPP connection for each registry, even if the registry doesn’t support EPP!  The end result, allows anyone to quickly and profitably offer hundreds of ccTLDs without any engineering or financial risk.  HEXONET has made it utterly simple.

    Why Climb the Mountain

    Though the goal of unifying the ccTLDs under one protocol and one supplier was ambitious, the need for such a service was clear.  The global scope of business today require companies protect their brands across the world.  Businesses don’t have the time to peck and hunt through multiple registrars to get the ccTLDs they need.  Even registrars need such a service, since they don’t have the time, money or expertise to embark on such an endeavor, they would rather spend their energies on making money.

    HEXONET from its genesis has been an engineering centric company.  Without this critical characteristic, I doubt the ccTLD EPP platform would have even been attempted.  HEXONET engineers like to work on big problems, so tackling the ccTLD unification issue was right in the company’s sweet spot!  Ever hear the phrase, “bitting off more than you can chew”?  At times, this project felt exactly like that old adage.  Imagine researching, planning, developing, testing, and testing again against every operation and command across virtually every non-EPP registry.  Even for registries who were EPP complaint, because of home spun EPP extensions, HEXONET had to provide a mapping of those extensions into standard EPP.  The end result is HEXONET’s EPP 1.0 Gateway for ccTLDs, which is fully compliant to EPP 1.0 (RFC 4930-4933), the first of its kind industry wide.

    Win-Win for Everyone

    As I stated at the top of this post, among the best things in our industry for me has been ccTLDs, except for the unification issue.  A big reason for coming to HEXONET and joining forces once again with Jens Wagner was to do something special, which not only helps HEXONET, but ultimately helps our industry.  I believe our ccTLD EPP 1.0 platform really accomplishes both goals.

    HEXONET is even allowing connectivity to the EPP platform without charge.  Wholesale domain registration rates are extremely competitive and are only paid at the time of registration.  Even large registrars with their own accreditations have free use of the the EPP connections via HEXONET’s Registrar Operations Center, which is the company’s high performance and highly available turnkey registrar platform.  Migrating is also a breeze since the EPP connection is the same, whether one is connecting to HEXONET’s accreditation or their own, clients who have enough volume to be accredited for a particular ccTLD can seamlessly upgrade with the ease of flipping a switch. No engineering, no time, not even missing a transaction.

    The win-win story of ccTLDs is only possible because someone went ahead and built/implemented a standard, in this case the EPP standard.  In a future series of Blog Posts I will attempt to introduce some ccTLDs registries.  Please stay tuned …

    Posted in Domains, General, HEXONET, New TLDs