Mater of our own domain names?
October 23, 2006 6:03 AM   Subscribe

Becoming your own domain registrar?

I work for a hosting company which registers around 300 domains for customers each week. We've got DNS, web servers, and all the basic stuff sorted out and humming along nicely, but still rely on an outside vendor to do our domain registration.

Since even saving a buck or two per domain can create substantial savings over time, we'd love to cut out the middle man. We'd also like a little more control over the process as well, since these days, any kind of substantial delay between a customer domain search and the aquisition of a domain can lead to it getting grabbed by an evil registrar.

If we were just looking for speed, there are other alternatives -- several of the domain registrars provide XML api's, which we could (and do) deal with no problem, but if it's not that big of a deal to go one step further... we're a bunch of linux dorks and I think we can probably sort it out. I'm just trying to figure out if it's worth our time.

I've found a basic page about accreditation from ICANN, but it doesn't really answer all my questions.

What's the base price of a domain from ICANN? GoDaddy claims it's only $0.25 per year... but I couldn't find any other references or breakdown per top level domain.

Has anyone out there set something like this up? How are the technical requirements? Was it difficult to get it all working with ICANN, or was it all reasonably straightforward?
posted by ph00dz to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
ICANN accreditation is just the first step (and that alone will cost you $4000/year). To actually register domains, you then need to become a registrar with VeriSign (who run the .com and .net gTLDs), and with the PIR (who run the .org gTLD). The fee per domain per year for both of these organisations is $6, and both of them have their own financial requirements, agreements and technical competency tests that you have to sort out.
posted by chrismear at 6:35 AM on October 23, 2006

OpenSRS's reseller program may interest you.
posted by amtho at 7:21 AM on October 23, 2006

I think becoming a full-blown registrar would cost you more than it could save, so it's probably not worth it, but you might want to look into a good reseller program, such as eNom or as amtho says, OpenSRS.
posted by jayden at 7:46 AM on October 23, 2006

Best answer: Becoming an ICANN accredited registrar is the first step, yes - but chrismear has some details confused.

You're a registrar once you're accredited, but you still have to sign contracts with each registry that you wish to do business with. Here's the list of Top Level Domains: (TLDs or ccTLD)

Becoming ICANN accredited requires a lot of cash available, as well as nearly $20k to get it done. Then you will spend a few grand each year to keep it. There is a much larger liability inherent in being accredited than a lot of people understand. With phishing and copyright being a major issue right now it's advisable to have some legal counsel on board to support compliance issues. That's not even touching on the technical requirements, which are significant. I'm trying to find the documentation that we were given when we were considering it - it laid out all of the details and technical requirements.

I work for a very large hosting provider and we have a large enough domain portfolio for our customers that we've considered doing this. I've done plenty of research on what it would take and the benefits we would reap. I recommended we not pursue becoming accredited and simply worked with my existing suppliers for better price points. That way we save money and don't have to take on additional liability. We're not the only large provider using this strategy. We'll revisit the notion again annually to make sure it still makes financial/business sense.

The cost for the .com is $6 per Domain Name Year to the registry and .25 per year to ICANN. The other extensions vary from as little as $4.25 up to $35. Some registries run specials (think .info for $1 per DNY, etc) at times and you'd reap those savings as well. Additionally, you would qualify for rebates if and when those happen.

I work with Tucows (OpenSRS), eNom, Network Solutions, MelbourneIt, BulkRegister, Alldomains (Dotster) and DomainPeople. Tucows has an offering that you can license once you have becoming accredited. You essentially use your own copy of their system. It's called OpenHRS. If you *really* want to go down this road, you might consider that.

You're registering 300 new names a week - how many are you renewing? What's your total DNY/month flow? Who are you using now? What is your cost per DNY now? Depending on these answers you should be able to save some money without going down the ICANN path.

If you have further specific questions let me know and I'll do my best to answer them.
posted by FlamingBore at 8:14 AM on October 23, 2006 [1 favorite]

FlamingBore: Which details did I have confused? Not being pissy, I just want to make sure I don't spread misinformation in the future.
posted by chrismear at 9:13 AM on October 23, 2006

Sorry chrismear - I was just meaning that you're a registrar once you become one with ICANN. You don't have to sell domains in the .com or .org space with either Verisign or PIR. Though it would hardly make sense not to do so. Signing with a registry (or not) doesn't effect whether you're a registrar, just the effectiveness of being one. Those two companies only cover .com, .net and .org. There's also NeuLevel, mTLD, Afilias and Global Name Registry off the top of my head to round out the most common gTLD offerings (.biz, .mobi, .info and .name). Once you get into .pro, .coop and any of the other truly specialized domains you're really looking at challenges in compliance. Then you can dig down into the ccTLD market... but you get the idea.

To sign with all the major registries for common gTLDs you're looking at annual fees in the $4k range, but the accrediting process will take you nearly $20k to get off the ground the first year.

So, you're generally correct, I'm just a stickler for terms/details around this because there is so much that is easy to get confused on.

oh, also - right now the cost for .net is actually lower than $6, but it's often quoted as $6 anyway.
posted by FlamingBore at 9:35 AM on October 23, 2006

Cool, thanks. I tend to be a stickler for details too, so I appreciate the additional info!
posted by chrismear at 10:40 AM on October 23, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks guys... that really did a great job of answering my question. We're not paying signicantly above $6.00 for our domains now, so it sounds like I'll be reaching the same conclusion as you guys did, FlamingBore.
posted by ph00dz at 10:53 AM on October 23, 2006

Good deal, ph00dz. If you need more information or specifics on anything just let me know. I'm happy to share information that isn't privleged, etc.
posted by FlamingBore at 1:29 PM on October 23, 2006

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