Nominet chief Russell Haworth is hopeful that its new outsourcing deal with Minds + Machines will help it win a much more lucrative back-end contract — .org.
The company is among the 20-plus companies that have responded to Public Interest Registry’s request for proposals, as its back-end deal with Afilias comes to an end.
Nominet is one of a handful of companies — which would also include Verisign, Afilias, CNNIC and DENIC — that currently handles zones the size or larger than .org, which at over 10 million names is about the same size as .uk.
It, like PIR, is also a not-for-profit entity that donates excess funds to good causes, which could count in its favor.
But Haworth told DI today that showing the ability to handle a complex TLD migration may help its bid.
“I personally think that it would stand us in good stead, but we’ll have to see how the process plays out,” he told DI today. “With .org there’s 19-odd players pitching for that, so it’s a fairly competitive field.”
If the migration were to happen today, we’d be looking at around 300,000 domains changing hands. It’s likely to be a somewhat larger number by the time it actually happens.
Collectively, it will be one of the largest back-end transitions to date, though the largest individual affected gTLD, .work, currently has fewer than 100,000 names in its zone.
Haworth said that the plan is to migrate M+M’s portfolio over to Nominet’s systems one at a time.
He was hesitant to characterize the migration process as “easy”, but said Nominet already has such systems in place due to its role as one of ICANN’s Emergency Back-End Registry Operators.
Earlier this year, Nominet temporarily took over defunct dot-brand .doosan, in order to test the EBERO process.
A back-end migration primarily covers DNS resolution and EPP systems.
It sounds like the EPP portion may be the more complex. Some of M+M’s gTLDs have restrictions and tiered pricing that may require EPP extensions Nominet does not currently use in its TLDs.
But the DNS piece may hold the most risk — if something breaks, registrants names stop resolving and web sites go dark.
Haworth said Nominet is also talking to other new gTLD registries about taking over back-end operations. Registries signed three, five or seven-year contracts with their RSPs when the 2012 application round opened, and some are coming up for renewal soon, he said.
Nominet says it will become a top ten back-end after the M+M migration is done.