DNS Belgium, operator of .be, has moved its shared registration systems to the cloud, the non-profit said last week.
The registry migrated from a self-hosted system to Amazon Web Services on February 11.
It’s an effort to cut costs, increase efficiency, and free up engineering time currently dedicated to non-core functions such as hardware maintenance, executives said.
“As AWS sees to the hardware, connectivity etc., DNS Belgium can focus on the layers above, such as the software,” general manager Philip Du Bois said in a press release.
Business development manager Lut Goedhuys said that while the system has been moved to the cloud, AWS allows customers to select the data centers where their applications will be stored.
DNS Belgium picked Ireland, she said.
Google has muscled in to the registry service provider market with the launch of Nomulus, an open-source TLD back-end platform.
The new offering appears to be tightly integrated with Google’s various cloud services, challenging long-held registry pricing conventions.
There are already indications that at least one of the gTLD market’s biggest players could be considering a move to the service.
Donuts revealed yesterday it has been helping Google with Nomulus since early 2015, suggesting a shift away from long-time back-end partner Rightside could be on the cards.
Nomulus, which is currently in use at Google Registry’s handful of early-stage gTLDs, takes care of most of the core registry functions required by ICANN, Google said.
It’s a shared registration system based on the EPP standard, able to handle all the elements of the domain registration lifecycle.
Donuts contributed code enabling features it uses in its own 200-ish gTLDs, such as pricing tiers, the Early Access Period and Domain Protected Marks List.
Nomulus handles Whois and likely successor protocol RDAP (Registration Data Access Protocol).
For DNS resolution, it comes with a plug-in to make TLDs work on the Google Cloud DNS service. Users will also be able to write code to use alternative DNS providers.
There’s also software to handle daily data escrow to a third-party provider, another ICANN-mandated essential.
But Nomulus lacks critical features such as billing and fully ICANN-compliant reporting, according to documentation.
So will anyone actually use this? And if so, who?
It’s too early to say for sure, but Donuts certainly seems keen. In a blog post, CEO Paul Stahura wrote:
As the world’s largest operator of new TLDs, Donuts must continually explore compelling technologies and ensure our back-end operations are cost-efficient and flexible… Google has a phenomenal record of stability, an almost peerless engineering team, endless computing resources and global scale. These are additional potential benefits for us and others who may contribute to or utilize the system. We have been happy to evaluate and contribute to this open source project over the past 20 months because this platform provides Donuts with an alternative back-end with significant benefits.
In a roundabout way, Donuts is essentially saying that Nomulus could work out cheaper than its current back-end, Rightside.
The biggest change heralded by Nomulus is certainly pricing.
For as long as there has been a competitive market for back-end domain registry services, pricing has been on a per-domain basis.
While pricing and model vary by provider and customer, registry operators typically pay their RSPs a flat fee and a buck or two for each domain they have under management.
Pricing for dot-brands, where DUM typically comes in at under 100 today, is believed to be weighted much more towards the flat-fee service charge element.
But that’s not how Nomulus is to be paid for.
While the software is open source and free, it’s designed to run on Google’s cloud hosting services, where users are billed on the fly according to their usage of resources such as storage and bandwidth consumed.
For example, the Google Cloud Datastore, the company’s database service that Nomulus uses to store registration and Whois records, charges are $0.18 per gigabyte of storage per month.
For a small TLD, such as a dot-brand, one imagines that storage costs could be reduced substantially.
However, Nomulus is not exactly a fire-and-forget solution.
There is no Google registry service with customer support reps and such, at least not yet. Nomulus users are responsible for building and maintaining their registry like they would any other hosted application.
So the potentially lower service costs would have to be balanced against potentially higher staffing costs.
My hunch based on the limited available information is that for a dot-brand or a small niche TLD operating on a skeleton crew that may lack technical expertise, moving to Nomulus could be a false economy.
With this in mind, Google may have just created a whole new market for middleman RSPs — TLD management companies that can offer small TLDs a single point of contact for technical expertise and support but don’t need to build out and own their own expensive infrastructure.
The barrier to entry to the RSP market may have just dropped like a rock, in other words.
And Nomulus may work out more attractive to larger TLD operators such as Donuts, with existing teams of geeks, that can take advantage of Google’s economies of scale.
Don’t expect any huge changes overnight though. Migrating between back-ends is not an easy or cheap feat.
As well as ICANN costs, and data migration and software costs, there’s also the non-trivial matter of shepherding a horde of registrars over to the new platform.
How much impact Nomulus will have on the market remains to be seen, but it has certainly given the industry something to think about.
The newly launched gTLD .cloud passed 20,000 domains under management one day after entering general availability.
About 25 hours after the 1500 UTC launch yesterday, 20,347 domains had been registered, according to head of registry operations Francesco Cetraro.
He said 17,991 of those names were registered in GA.
The gTLD is priced around the $20 to $25 mark at the popular registrars I checked.
Over 20,000 names is a pretty decent start, putting the the Aruba-owned TLD within the top 100 new gTLDs by volume.
Volume-wise, it’s already in the same ball-park as the likes of .global, .sexy and .uno, which have each been around for well over a year.
Including dot-brands, there are now close to 900 new gTLDs, only about half of which have more than 100 names.
Aruba, the .cloud gTLD registry, said it received 500 applications during its sunrise phase, which closed this afternoon.
While low by pre-2012 standards, it’s a relatively respectable performance for a new gTLD, where sunrises periods consistently result in double-digit registrations.
It’s almost certainly in the top 10 for 2012-round gTLDs.
exactly one hour left to submit Trademark Priority Registration Orders in the .cloud sunrise… 500 received so far 🙂 #dotCloudFTW
— Get .Cloud (@getdotcloud) January 15, 2016
I gather there was only one duplicate application during the period, which ran from November 16.
Before sunrise began, Aruba already had about 30 “pioneer” registrants in the web hosting space, including Ubuntu and Weebly.
Landrush is set to kick off January 25, with general availability following February 16. Retail pricing will be around the $25 a year mark.
Aruba, the recently anointed .cloud gTLD registry, plans to give away up to 100 free .cloud domains to trademark owners as part of its launch program.
The Italian company also today revealed a rough launch schedule that will see sunrise begin mid-way through the fourth quarter.
Participating in Aruba’s “Pioneer” program will be free for trademark owners with a decent marketing plan, a brand-match domain, and a web site that can go live at the end of September.
Up to 100 domains can be allocated for promotional purposes before sunrise begins, per ICANN rules.
Those looking to grab a generic dictionary word in .cloud “may require further negotiation and incur additional costs”, the registry web site says.
Wannabe pioneers have until August 21 to submit their ideas.
Aruba, which beat Minds + Machines, Symantec, Amazon, Google, CloudNames and Donuts to .cloud at private auction last November, plans to go to general availability early next year.