Not all registries are the same, or: Experience is priceless

Last November I had the privilege to visit NIC Costa Rica, our counterpart in that small Central American country. There is a much smaller team working in the local NIC, which takes care of about 28,000 domains for the administration of which our FRED system has been used since 2011.

Costa Rica is a Spanish-speaking country between Panama and Nicaragua with the population of five million. The capital, San José, where NIC Costa Rica is located, is slightly smaller than Brno and is located at an impressive altitude of 1100 meters above sea level, which is higher than any European capital.

The key points of the program of my visit, paid for by my host, were firewall rate limiting for services such as whois and rdap, database connection recycling, high availability for FRED servers using the UCARP protocol, and expansion of the FRED system itself. Other topics were covered as well. Unlike the Czech registry, the Costa Rican one uses several zones with a rather complicated price list. The basic price for the .cr domain is $ 70 a year for the main zone, but discounts are quite common. For each country, including Costa Rica, specific billing is necessary. Another interesting fact about this registry is that our colleagues not only manage the domain registry, but also act a registrar.

All the features that Costa Rican administrators need, but FRED does not support, must naturally be implemented elsewhere. So during my visit we also discussed the use of CORBA interface, protocol buffers + GRPC interface, to which we are going to switch from CORBA in CZ.NIC, and best practices about how to extend the PostgreSQL database. We also discussed the libraries used, mainly because of the implementation of the EPP client. Fortunately, there is quite a detailed documentation for this, so it was enough to just add suitable comments to that. Another topic discussed was the introduction of AKM (Automated Keyset Management). I dare say that thanks to our consultations, the Costa Rican domain registry was the third in the world to implement this system procedure. For the sake of completeness, the second place belongs to our Swiss colleagues and the first place to us.

During this collaboration, I realized that as for the development of the FRED system, we are moving in the right direction. Our goal is to see FRED in as many domain registries as possible – both in the established ones and those that are just taking their first steps in domain administration. Thanks to the knowledge of our colleagues from Costa Rica, we can further develop our system to be ready for use in environments that may be rather different from ours. And there is no better way of getting such feedback than a face-to-face meeting.

Suggestions from Costa Rica will affect FRED’s future development plan, especially in the area of interfaces provided. As opposed to this, support for complicated discount schemes would generally be very difficult to program and therefore we do not plan it in the near future.

As far as future cooperation is concerned, cooperation on the front-end part of the registry seems quite realistic. In the conclusion, I just want to mention that our colleagues from NIC Costa Rica were intrigued by our open hardware router Turris Omnia project. According to their response, it can be assumed that FRED will not remain our only common point of interest.

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