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A Q&A on Google's New gTLD Solution, Nomulus

Jean Guillon

Nomulus is the code for the backend domain name registry solution offered by Google which requires the use of Google Cloud. This solution is the one used for all of Google's new gTLDs and the solution works.

An announcement for this solution can look like a potentially "simple" solution for future .BRAND new gTLD applicants — but is it truly the case?

When Google makes such an announcement, it immediately catches the eye of the entire new gTLD industry as well others. If such an announcement is seen as a troublemaker for other backend registry businesses, it also alerts other potential new gTLD service providers — such as law firms — that would be interested in using a registry platform to avoid contracting with a backend registry.

To help us clear some points, we sent our questions to one the key people involved with Nomulus, Ben McIlwain, Google's senior software engineer who was kind enough to answer them.

* * *

Q: What technical knowledge would a Law Firm need to offer Trademarks their .BRAND gTLD using Nomulus?

A: "A law firm? They'd definitely need technically minded people, and probably at least one developer. There are not many law firms running TLDs, I would imagine? It seems more likely to me that said hypothetical law firm would want to use a registry service provider".

Q: Can Google Registrar (for US companies) be the single registrar authorized to create a ".brand" new domain name, when using Nomulus? This question is important since a registrar is required to allow the registration of domain names.

A: "With a relatively small amount of custom development to Nomulus, you could add a whitelist of registrar(s) to TLDs so that only those registrar(s) could register domain names on said TLD. This would work for any registrar and isn't specific to Google Domains. It'd all be using standard EPP".

Q: Does it make sense to say that Google Registry has already passed the ICANN technical requirements and so a company using Nomulus+GoogleCloud would easily pass these tests prior to being delegated?

A: "Not sure. You'd still need someone who's already familiar with ICANN's pre-delegation testing process to get through it "easily". But you could say that, since we passed the testing on our ~40 TLDs, there's more assurance that someone else could do so using our software than with some other software that hasn't yet passed testing for any TLD".

Q: Starting from scratch with Nomulus, and knowing that OpenRegistry was recently sold for $3.7 million, what could be the estimated cost to build a backend registry solution with Nomulus?

A: "I have no idea. Hopefully not too much, but there are way too many factors in play (requirements, prevailing wage of the area in which you're hiring developers, etc.)"

Q: Are there already service providers able to build a backend registry solution for third-party customers? (Such as a law firm looking for a service provider to build its solution.)

A: "There are registry service providers that exist, e.g. Rightside and Afilias. Did you mean using Nomulus though? If so, I'm not aware of any, but maybe someone would do so in the future?"

Q: Automating and managing the invoicing process seems to be a though part of a backend registry solution: how can Nomulus help simplify this for an entrepreneur willing to operate a generic TLD dedicated to selling domain names?

A: "I don't entirely understand the question. "though part"? The problem is that there are so many potential different ways to handle invoicing and payments, and what is available/allowable likely differs from country to country, that you'd probably need to end up developing stuff yourself. We provide some billing queries that aggregate billing events on a monthly basis and group them by registrar, which gets you most of the way towards generating invoices, and we also provide integration with Braintree, which is a US-based credit card payment processor that handles USD. Most of what someone would need is thus already available, assuming that Braintree is a viable option for them, which it may not be in most countries. Of course, all the standard disclaimers of the Apache 2.0 license apply, i.e. the work is provided "on an "AS IS" BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied, including, without limitation, any warranties or conditions of TITLE, NON-INFRINGEMENT, MERCHANTABILITY, or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE." We just release the code, and we happen to be using it for our purposes, but we don't offer it as a service or provide any kind of warranty or guarantee".

Q: Is there, by any chance, a possibility that Google would offer a .BRAND key-in-hand solution prior to the start of the next round (to take place somewhere between mid 2018 & 2020?

A: "I don't know".

Q: Nomulus (developed) comes as an entirely new solution for the next round of the ICANN new gTLD program: why isn't there more marketing done about it? Is it too early?

A: "I don't know".

Q: The 'nomulus.domains' domain name is registered: so why does it not redirect to an official presentation of Nomulus?

A: "Our official domain name for Nomulus is https://nomulus.foo, and that's the only one we reference. We've registered other domain names defensively, nomulus.domains being one of them, but we're not too concerned about them. Similarly, we have google.horse, but it's not redirected to google.com; we just don't use it".

By Jean Guillon, New gTLDs "only".
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Did you mean "tough"? Norbert Mayer-Wittmann  –  Feb 17, 2017 12:07 AM PST

Did you mean "tough"?

Yes Jean Guillon  –  Feb 17, 2017 12:21 AM PST

Yes, this is a mistake, I meant "dure" in French :-)

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