Another possible explanation has been put forward for ICANN’s suspension of digital archery, this time by one of the third-party digital archery service providers.
The ambitiously named Digital Archery Experts says it alerted ICANN to the presence of a technical problem a week ago.
Chief technology officer Dirk Bhagat described it thus:
Instead of generating the timestamp immediately, we believe the TAS timestamp generation process may be delayed by increases in system load…
Since most applicants are aiming for the 000 millisecond variance at the minute mark, this can introduce varying timestamps since applicants are shooting for the exact same second on the minute. We have also noted that our results were a lot more consistent when attempts were made to hit the target at various offsets after the minute mark, for example, aiming for 15:32:07 instead of 15:32:00.
It’s not exactly rocket science. In short, he’s saying that the TAS can’t handle too many applicants logging in and shooting at the same time; more load equals poorer performance.
This won’t be news to many applicants, some of whom saw downtime last week that seemed to be caused by a meltdown of the sluggish Citrix virtual machine software.
It also seems to be consistent with the hypothesis that the massive amount of calibration going on — much of it by digital archery service providers themselves — has caused more load than TAS can handle.
With only 20% of applications currently assigned a timestamp, and only a week left on the clock, the situation could only have been exacerbated by lots of last-minute arrows being fired.
While digital archery may be conceptually similar to grabbing a dropping domain or hitting a landrush, it seems pretty clear that TAS is not as redundantly provisioned as the typical registry SRS.
Bhagat said that ICANN could mitigate the impact of the problem by separating timestamp generation as much as possible from the parts of the infrastructure impacted most by system load.
This might all be academic, however.
Digital archery and batching are high on the agenda here at ICANN 44 in Prague, and many attendees hope that the controversial system may be gone for good before the week is out.
That includes some members of the Governmental Advisory Committee, which in an open meeting yesterday seemed to be coming to the conclusion that it would advise ICANN to ditch digital archery.
The GAC and the ICANN’s board’s new gTLD program committee are having their first public facetime this afternoon at 1630 local time, at which a better sense of how both plan to proceed might emerge.