Nowadays we see more and more top-level domain (TLD) owners (Registries) making the decision to move their TLDs from one Registry Service Provider (RSP) to another – while in the first application period in 2012 there were just a limited number of RSPs capable of meeting ICANNs demands for generic TLDs.
Within the last couple of years the number of RSPs has grown. Today for every demand and every kind of TLD a suitable RSP is available. Owners of branded TLDs do not have to go with legacy RSPs who focus on high numbers of domains under management (DUM), but can pick someone who understands their specific needs.
The change of an RSP or Back-End Registry Operator is not the quintessential way to just move services. It is a complex process and needs good planning and specific knowledge. As a TLD owner you need an experienced partner to perform the migration and operate your dotBRAND.
By knowing the steps below, you can fully assess the risks and the rewards to decide if the change is right for you.
What are the important steps to successfully migrate a TLD to a new RSP?
❶ Assess your needs
The right RSP for you depends on what type of TLD you operate and what you expect from the RSP. If you want the TLD to be successful it needs not only a specific technical solution but also the proper support to take care of its development.
Set a budget and consider all providers in the market. Avoiding the mass market solutions means more attention which your TLD will need to be a successful investment.
❷ Go with a trusted vendor
Since your goal is to move the TLD with minimal stress and disruption, you should select an RSP that is approved by the licensing organization, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN is the entity that ensures a stable, secure, and unified global Internet.
Make sure that the new RSP has experience and knows how to operate a TLD. Choosing an RSP that already provides reliable registry services to operational TLDs will ensure a smooth and easy transition with minimal involvement from you in the process.
You should also consider that the RSP you choose has to be compliant with your local laws and regulations such as GDPR. You are answerable to ICANN but also to your government rules. Don’t forget also to check if the RSP meets the high international standards on how to manage information security.
❸ Evaluate the whole process
Even though the process sounds purely technical it is far from that. The change of an RSP includes planning, consideration and adjustment of contracts, services, policies, procedures, abuse mitigation mechanisms, billing methods, etc.
Before making another financial commitment review your existing contracts. Review how you can exit the contractual obligations with the current RSP and discuss the time needed for the transition with the new RSP before canceling your contract. It can also happen that the services offered by the current RSP and the new RSP are different.
The ICANN Registry Agreement allows some optional Services and if some have been added, modified or removed additional processes with ICANN aside from the transition may be required.
Choosing an experienced RSP would avoid unexpected non technical challenges. This process can be an opportunity to re-evaluate optional registry services.
❹ Prepare for transition
Once you make the choice it is up to the current and to the new RSPs to perform the transition. Before starting the transition both RSPs have to work closely on exchanging data and preparing a transition plan. If the proposed RSP has already been through the process it will know what information it needs to collect from the current RSP and how to organize the transition with minimum challenges.
❺ Get consent
When operating a TLD you are answerable to ICANN and you need to obtain an approval to move forward with the transition. The new RSP will go through a process with ICANN before you get consent to change the RSP.
There are a couple of steps to be passed before the green light to start the transition. The new RSP has to get approval of its transition plan. Their system will be tested and the new RSP needs to provide ICANN with documentation. The process takes time so keep that in mind when considering your contractual situation.
An experienced RSP will be aware of how to manage every step of the process and can help you with setting up a timeline.
❻ Start the transition
Once the transition plan is approved by ICANN the process can start. Both RSPs must work closely together to complete the migration. The registry services are being monitored and need to comply with ICANN service levels.
❼ Last steps
Once the transition is done the TLD will be migrated to the new RSP. It must continue to comply with all the requirements set forth in the Registry Agreement.
The migration of a TLD is a complex process of technical and non-technical aspects. The most important for a successful transition is to choose the right RSP that will plan the steps described above precisely and keep everything organized.
About the author
Neli Marcheva is LEMARIT’s Registry Services Senior Project Leader.
She leads an experienced team that provides flawless back-end services to various of dotBRAND customers.