Setting the record straight about Afilias Australia’s new .au service

By AFILIAS | 5 July 2018

The transition of .au to the new Afilias system in Australia happened last weekend according to plan: no interruption of service to end users and minimal disruption to registrars. By all accounts, this historic event is a testament to auDA’s vision and determination to fulfill the goals of the project.

Of course, in any project of this magnitude, there is a follow-on list of items that need attention, and in line with our philosophy of continuous improvement, we are working closely with registrars and others to address any issues and further improve the services.

In this week’s blog, we turn our attention to some of the misrepresentations being made regarding the Afilias registry service. Normally we wouldn’t enter a tit-for-tat, but there are some points that should be clarified:

24×7 service: The former provider claims they were providing 24×7 support, so Afilias’ 24×7 service is not an improvement. However, as shown here, their public facing website (which is now offline) showed this service operated 9-6 Monday-Friday, as at the end of May 2018.

DNS service outside of Melbourne and Sydney: The former provider claims it operates nameservers in Perth and Brisbane (a total of four in Australia), so Afilias doesn’t provide better service. It is unclear though whether the former provider was referring to servers they provide their enterprise customers, versus the servers made available for the .au name service. However, Afilias has installed new .au dedicated nameservers in every Australian state and federal capital—seven in all, with Darwin coming online soon. Having eight nameservers distributed geographically significantly strengthens infrastructure in Australia.

A better registry system: The former provider claims its registry was better. auDA’s independent technical experts carefully reviewed both systems as part of the RFT process and decided otherwise. Of course, the former provider is proud of its system, and it’s no secret we’re proud of ours.

Better DNS security: The former provider claims itself a world leader and perhaps it is. However, Afilias is also a global leader in DNS security with plenty of capacity and DDoS mitigation capability. Afilias’ EVP and CTO served eight years on the ICANN Board as the liaison from the ICANN Security and Stability Advisory Committee (SSAC)—which is made up of global experts on internet security. Another Afilias staff member recently served as the SSAC vice chair. With a team of internationally recognised experts in DNS security, Afilias will provide state-of-the-art protection for .au.

Better Registry features: The former provider claims that registrars will see reduced features. The truth is that Afilias’ system meets or exceeds the technical specifications required by auDA and will be continually developed in consultation with the Australian internet community. The time for the former provider to tout its feature set is long past.

Faster DNS service: Testing by Afilias conducted when both providers were operating in parallel proves our critics wrong. Frankly, it makes sense that service across the new eight nameserver network in Australia has the potential to be faster than service across the previous two-four nameserver network—the servers are now closer to the customer! Afilias also operates nameservers around the globe to ensure that foreign customers of Australian businesses get an excellent service when using a .au domain name. We note that this false claim has been made without a shred of evidence and was published only after the former provider’s network stopped operating (and hence became unavailable for confirmatory testing). Fortunately, Afilias had already done the tests.

Lastly, an interesting fact: AusRegistry was founded in 2002 and in 2015 was acquired by Neustar, a US-based company who was subsequently acquired by Golden Gate Capital, a California-based private equity firm. Another fact: Afilias sent staff to Australia to assist AusRegistry with their registry code and DNS software, and was a shareholder of AusRegistry until its acquisition by Neustar in 2015. It seems that AusRegistry portrays itself as a small, local business when it’s convenient, but intersperses this with the global might of its parent company, Neustar, which is in actual fact a large US-based company.

Afilias Australia is proud to be an Australian entity that collects GST, with a Melbourne office, a Melbourne-based team and Australian data centres, and a national network of DNS nodes. The registry database and WHOIS services remain and operate in Australia. We are thrilled to be supporting the .au TLD and to be working with auDA to serve the Australian internet community.  As we move forward, continuous improvements will be made to ensure that .au always has state-of-the-art registry, DNS, and security capabilities. All of us at Afilias are focused on ensuring the future of .au is successful and are not diverted by lamentations about the past.

(Afilias Australia took over the management of the .au registry for auDA from 1 July 2018.)