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Another Free Registry Software Option

Google has recently announced the release of Nomulus, its free, open source registry software, triggering discussion of its impact on the industry. Afilias has over 15 years of experience in registry operations, and offers the following initial thoughts.

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First, free registry software is not new. CoCCA (Council of Country Code Administrators) has offered this option for years, and TLDs such as .CX (Christmas Island) and .KI (Kiribati) use it. It is supported on a “best efforts” basis and appears to meet the limited needs of a few small operators.

Second, registry services are about the SERVICE, not the software. While software is important, someone has to answer the phone when registrars (and ICANN) call. Someone has to deal with abuse if it happens. Someone has to accept deposits, manage billing, and keep the accounts straight. Even Afilias doesn’t know how to automate EVERYTHING (and we have tried!). Most TLD owners don’t like operational administrivia, and find it cheaper and easier to outsource it.

Third, free registry software does not mean a free registry operation, as Minds and Machines (MMX) recently concluded. MMX has decided to stop running its own registry and outsource their entire registry (and registrar) operations. Why? As stated in their 20SEP2016 Investor Presentation, this was to “Rationalize the business into a pure play owner of top level domains. Historically, MMX ran its own technical backend (RSP) and retail outlet (registrar) at considerable cost.” After years of trying to do everything themselves, MMX is outsourcing operations so they’ll be free to focus scarce internal resources on the strategically more important parts of their business.

Finally, even Google misses the mark sometimes, as evidenced in the Google Graveyard, which is rife with examples of products that were launched and then discontinued (e.g. Google Reader, Google Talk, iGoogle, Google Health, Knol, Picnik and many others).

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What will be the impact of another free registry software option? With over 1400 TLDs in the root now, surely someone will try it and gain some real-life experience. Stay tuned.

By Roland LaPlante, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Afilias

An expert on new TLD development, LaPlante is an original member of the management team at Afilias and has over 30 years’ senior marketing experience building brands at companies like Procter and Gamble, Citibank, and McGraw-Hill.

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The first gTLD option Rubens Kuhl  –  Oct 19, 2016 7:35 PM

Although not being the first open-source SRS (Shared Registry System), it’s the first one that is directly usable in gTLDs. CoCCA license prevents its free usage in gTLDs, and FRED (fred.nic.cz) would require significant development before deployment in a gTLD. A good number of ccTLDs is now deploying FRED, and Nomulus has the potential to become a similar option for gTLDs, likely in a manner as Kevin Murphy described in DI of enabling other RSPs. As for ccTLDs, looking at FRED is likely a simpler option than deploying Nomulus.

Yes there are other options out there, Frank Michlick  –  Oct 20, 2016 10:00 PM

Yes there are other options out there, but they are, as Rubens already says, not all ICANN compliant or licensed in the same way.

I agree that it makes sense to work with someone with experience in the space, but using an open source solution to do so may be an option - like with the RSPs (such as our company) that Kevin Murphy mentioned in his post about Nomulus.

Ultimately it comes down to a combination of pricing, features & service and we will always strive to help our clients pick the solution that best serves their needs.

We (DomainCocoon) will be taking a look at this solution.

Roland's observation that CoCCA provides support only Garth MIller  –  Oct 22, 2016 2:37 AM

Roland’s observation that CoCCA provides support only on a “best efforts basis” is not entirely correct, commercial support is available from CoCCA for both gTLDs and ccTLDs.

With ~60 users, CoCCA has been deployed by 20% of ccTLDs in the root. It is also used by gTLDs and complies with ICANNs rigorous standards.

In any case, TLD managers looking for affordable registry services can now choose between CoCCA and Nomulus. FRED is only missing a few gTLD features and with some small enhancements would also work for gTLDs as well.

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