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TLD Maintenance Significantly Improved With the New Registry Maintenance Notifications for EPP

Three years ago, the first Internet-Draft on Registry Maintenance Notifications for the Extensible Provisioning Protocol (EPP) was published, which will become a Request for Comments (RFC).

The IETF Registration Protocols Extensions (REGEXT) working group is the home of the coordination effort for standards track EPP extensions. They released eight RFCs over the last couple of years, and they are currently working on more than 15 Internet-Drafts.

Let's take a minute to discuss this with the authors of the new document.

For those who don't know you: Who are you, and what do you do?
Jody Kolker: I am a Senior Director in the domains organization at GoDaddy. I work with our domains engineering team to onboard and implement new gTLDs. I act as a liaison between our engineering teams and registry product and technical teams. I am also active in the CPH TechOps group at ICANN and the IETF REGEXT group.

Roger Carney: I am a Director of Policy at GoDaddy. I focus on domain name policy creation undertaken in the ICANN community, with a specific awareness of the engineering challenges presented by this policy work at ICANN. That leads me to be involved in many community groups (GNSO, CPH TechOps, IETF, etc.) to help provide solutions for the domain name ecosystem.

Tobias Sattler: I am a member of the board and CTO of united-domains and one of this document's authors. I was the Vice-Chair/CTO of the ICANN Registrar Stakeholder Group and Founder & Co-Chair of the CPH TechOps group.

What exactly is the Registry Maintenance Notification?

Tobias Sattler: The Registry Maintenance Notifications for the Extensible Provisioning Protocol (EPP) enables domain name registries to schedule their maintenance windows in a standardized format. That allows domain name registrars to prepare their systems efficiently and adjust their operational plans.

How did you get the idea to write this RFC?

Tobias Sattler: The idea started a couple of years ago. At the time, ICANN collaboration focused on policy work only. As a result, we decided at the ICANN Registrar Stakeholder Group to create a think tank that addresses technical and operational needs and founded TechOps.

Right at the beginning, we created a backlog with priorities. Many challenges of the new gTLDs influenced this backlog. Given the DNS namespace expansion, it was hard to keep track of all maintenance information sent to domain name registrars. Back then, this information was transmitted in different formats. Someone had to review this information and decide what to do next. Our goal was to improve and standardize this process, in addition to saving resources.

When TechOps prioritized the backlog, the Registry Maintenance Notifications was assigned the highest priority. We planned to publish an issue paper, discuss this with the group for a couple of weeks, and then see what we could do. It was evident that we needed a standardized mechanism. Since our industry uses EPP, it was apparent to choose an EPP extension.

However, this led to new considerations: If and under which conditions everyone would implement this EPP extension. We chose an RFC on standard tracks to ensure acceptance. After submitting the Internet-Draft, we asked the IETF REGEXT working group for adoption.

What is the IETF REGEXT working group?

Jody Kolker: The IETF REGEXT working group establishes standards for the extensions to the Extensible Provisioning Protocol, which is the domain name provisioning protocol for top-level domain name registries. The working group also sets standards for the RDAP protocol.

Tobias Sattler: If you are interested in contributing to this working group, please feel free to join.

What is an RFC? Can you please explain it a bit more?

Jody Kolker: An RFC (Request for Comments) is a publication developed by engineers and individuals who describe either a best practice or a standard protocol for how systems communicate.

What is the process of publishing an RFC?

Jody Kolker: A proposed Internet-Draft is written and presented to the applicable working group within IETF. The working group will then choose to adopt the document for review. The paper goes through a thorough iterative review process with community technical experts. Once the draft reaches stability (experts have no more edits), it then gets approved by the working group last call. The document is then sent to the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) for review. Once the IESG has finished its review (including any agreed to edits) and approves the draft, it is sent to the RFC editor for one last round of comments and fixes. Once these fixes are applied, it is published as an RFC.

How long will it still take for this document to become an RFC?

Jody Kolker: As this draft is getting ready for the Working Group Last Call, it typically takes six to twelve weeks to complete the remaining work items on its way to becoming an RFC.

What about the implementation? Is there already someone who uses your extension?

Tobias Sattler: Neustar already started implementing the new EPP extension before they became GoDaddy Registry. We are looking forward to seeing more domain name registries implement the extension.

Do you already have other ideas, or are you already working on other RFCs?

Tobias Sattler: I am not working on other Internet-Drafts, nor do I plan to submit a new one anytime soon. We will see what happens next, but I am open to new things.

Jody Kolker: I'm currently engaged in another REGEXT draft to provide better security for transferring domains between registrars.

Roger Carney: As Tobias mentioned earlier, the REGEXT WG has a steady list of work ahead, the three of us are not authors on those drafts, but we will be participating in their review, development, and eventual standardization.

What are your plans for the future?

Tobias Sattler: I am happy that this document will be published as an RFC. Although we still have to promote RFC adoption, I think the benefits speak for themselves. Apart from that, I will continue to support TechOps and the IETF REGEXT working group.

Jody Kolker: I'll continue participating in TechOps and REGEXT working groups, helping drive innovation where I can. I'll also continue to push for the adoption of Registry Maintenance Notification.

Roger Carney: As Tobias mentions, there is still a lot of socializing of this draft/standard so that we can get wide adoption and achieve the most significant benefits. Aside from promoting the Registry Maintenance Notifications, continue pushing forward and help out where needed.

Thank you for your time and insight!

By Tobias Sattler, CTO at united-domains

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