New registry system gets green light this weekend

A shared registry system is being launched this weekend, which will eventually let Kiwi registrars directly place and change information in the database of .nz names.

A shared registry system (SRS) is being launched this weekend, which will eventually let Kiwi registrars directly place and change information in the database of .nz names.

Domain name commissioner Debbie Monahan says the system should ultimately allow registrars (companies that will register names on behalf of others) to directly access the domain name register (the database housing the list of names in the .nz name space) without going through Domainz. (See Terminology Explainer box below this story.)

"Initially, the registrars will still access the SRS through Domainz [currently the only company allowed to place or change information on the register], which has a year-long contract as stabilising registrar. That gives the system and users time to get used to it."

By December 7 this year the second phase kicks in whereby registrars can make changes to records directly on the register itself. Domainz will continue to act as registrar for those companies or individuals that do not have a contract with a separate registrar.

InternetNZ, formerly the Internet Society (ISOCNZ) owns Domainz but has said it does not want to be in the business of owning a competitive registrar under the new system.

"By the end of November I'm hoping InternetNZ will have decided what direction it wants Domainz to take - whether it will sell it as a going concern or wind it up," says Monahan.

The final stage of the rollout takes place in March next year when Monahan will contact those registrants (people who have bought domain names) that are still listed under Domainz and let them know they need to chose a new registrar.

"That list of accredited registrars might include Domainz if InternetNZ decides to sell it as a going concern, but whatever the case, the users will have to chose."

Monahan defends the decision to wait until March before sending out the notification to registrants.

"Sending out the notification in March means we'll have a competitive situation by then and registrants will have a choice of registrars."

Monahan says she hopes Domainz will avoid the roll-out problems that caused so much trouble when its current system was launched.

"Domainz will continue to use the DRS [domain registry system] that it currently has, in parallel with the SRS. It will continue to prepare zone pushes [registry updates that take place twice a day] on that side of things to make sure if there are any problems with the SRS we can still register names." The DRS won't complete the zone push unless something untoward happens with the SRS.

Monahan says testing of the SRS shows it to be very stable so she doesn't expect there will be any major problems.

The SRS roll out means the registry system will be out of action from 10am on Saturday until 1am on Monday.

Terminology Explainer

If the whole domain name registration process is a blur of names to you, you're not alone. Deciding whether you're a registrar or a registrant can leave many first-time name owners dazed and confused, and not in a good way.

Here are some of the more frequently used terms.

DNC - newly appointed, Debbie Monahan is the DNC, which is the operational overlord of InternetNZ. Monahan will be called in to settle disputes (such as the dispute) and to oversee the register, registry and registrars to make sure it all works smoothly. She will assess and authorise registrars under the new system.

Domainz - currently the only company allowed to place or change information on the register - it has a dual role as registrar and registry.

DRS - the current system, introduced in a blaze of bad publicity with over 100 reported major bugs, a cost blow out and recriminations all round. Once the SRS is firmly in place the DRS will become Domainz' system for interacting with the SRS.

InternetNZ - the society formerly known as the Internet Society (ISOCNZ), made up of anyone with an interest in the internet willing to stump up the cash to join. It has the rights to the .nz name space and set up Domainz, the DNC and now NZDNR to run that.

NZDNR - the Domain Name Registry, the company set up by InternetNZ to take over Domainz' role as registry management company. Will begin operation from Monday morning.

Register - the database that houses the ultimate list of names in the .nz name space. If you own a domain name, it's in here.

Registrant - if you've bought a domain name, that's you.

Registrar - the company that will register names on your behalf. Under the new system these will be accredited by the Domain Name Commissioner (DNC) and could range from the cheap end of things, where you look after everything yourself, up to the expensive, where hosting and billing packages would be combined.

Registry - the company that runs the register on behalf of InternetNZ. Currently that's Domainz but under the new system it will be the New Zealand Domain Name Registry. Domainz' future is uncertain but it will possibly be sold off as a registrar, with its registry function transferred to NZDNR.

SRS - the shared registry system. The new system being introduced that will allow all registrars to input data into the register directly. Open source code is being used to build it and the registrars are getting as much input as possible. Because they can see and use the source code the registrars can build their own interfaces to the system.