Technological Cassandra Complex
March 23, 2007 9:23 AM   Subscribe

The company I work for wants to outsource ownership of all its domains to a third party. Is there any way I can fight this?

I work IT for a company that is largely non-technical and they've unfortunately hired a clueless bozo to manage IT. He's wooed management with all the typical consultant-grade hype and is now deep in the process of restructuring our department.

I've already failed to fight this in several areas (including the switch from internally managed postfix to hosted exchange "because it's cheaper"(!)) and I'm going to be out on one of the next rails but I feel like I have this ethical obligation to the company to keep them from making the terrible mistake of giving up ownership of their domain names.

I've tried explaining in a hundred ways that a domain is a piece of property, that the registrant is the legal owner, that despite any contracts the company has with this third party there are myriad ways this can go sour and that there is no legitimate reason to do something like this in the first place. The company should keep ownership of the domain. I'm getting zero traction. Has this happened to anyone else? Is there anything I can do? Am I being unreasonable for caring that they're making this mistake?
posted by lornoss to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
Just curious, how many domains are you talking about here? It's not like it costs that much to retain one.

Has your company considered selling all their brand names and renting them back (which isn't to say that this sort of thing isn't done)?
posted by Good Brain at 9:37 AM on March 23, 2007

If you are out on one of the next rails:

a) They probably think you are trying to torpedo them (maybe the IT bozo has poisoned them against you?)

b) You really don't have an ethical obligation.
posted by DU at 9:51 AM on March 23, 2007

lornoss, who are they talking about using? Large, multi-national companies actually outsource the management of their domains to companies like MarkMonitor all the time. The idea is to safeguard them, not put them at risk. I believe Google, Coca-Cola and a whole host of other well known brands are clients of MM.

Further, technically, in the small print of almost every registry you'll see that you're just leasing a domain. That may change with the ICANN meeting that's getting under way now, but that's how it stands right now.

How big is your company? How many domains are we talking?
posted by FlamingBore at 10:09 AM on March 23, 2007

Response by poster: Good Brain:
4ish. We have been running dns in house so we've only been paying for the registration (a way huge $6 a year a domain plus the initial purchase of a little hardware).

My feeling has been that this has little to do with any technical or financial concerns and everything to do with control.
posted by lornoss at 10:12 AM on March 23, 2007

Response by poster: Flamingbore:
networked knowledge systems is who they are going with. These are also the guys that have me on that rail that I mentioned before. There's been no talk of trademark protection and all our domains are pretty well within UDRP anyway so this shouldn't be an issue.

And yeah I know they don't technically own the domain but handing it over to this company is a different matter entirely.
posted by lornoss at 10:21 AM on March 23, 2007

Point them to this thread/comment.

If you Google: [ "Networked Knowledge Systems" domain management ] you get two pages of results and not one of those results talks about the company in terms of this service. That's a BAD sign.

Whereas, if you Google: [ "Domain portfolio management" ] your first result is MarkMonitor. There are pages and pages of results and NKS doesn't show up anywhere. Lots of well regarded companies do show up, but no NKS.

I've *never* heard of NKS. This is my industry. No, I don't know everything or every company in or about it, but I know the leaders in the industry.

There's no reason for a company with only four domains to do something like this unless they have serious plans on growth/diversification/going multi-national. I work for a multi-national with nearly 500 domains under our corporate unbrella (covering more than 20 brand names) and I'm the person who handles those.

Find out what their goal in doing this is. Simply outsourcing it so they don't have to worry about it? Protecting brands? If you know the goal you (or I) might be able to suggest an alternative.

Then again, they may just be blinded by the money they've laid out for the consultant and feel like they should get the most out of it by following his directions.
posted by FlamingBore at 10:38 AM on March 23, 2007

Let the invisible fist of the free market punish these guys. You've already done more than most and they've decided not to listen to you. Considering you're on your way out, I'd say you've done all you can do and you shouldnt let this office politics over this consultant make you feel like you need to 'get his goat.' Let it go.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:52 AM on March 23, 2007

You've tried reason? If reason isn't working, then reason ain't gonna work. There's a whole 'nother agenda going on it and frankly, it sounds like it's outta your league. Either get real passionate and articulate about this or let it go. Either play the game on the field it's being played (which isn't reason) or let it go. One of the these choices will give you more sanity. It's up to decide which one that is.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:42 AM on March 23, 2007

I recommend the book Getting Things Done When You Are Not In Charge for anyone in IT. It discusses the ways that you, a person with no power, can influence and guide things behind the scenes to get things done.
posted by Laen at 3:47 PM on March 23, 2007

"giving up ownership of their domain names"

Surely they're not giving up ownership, by merely control of the nameserver. It should be fine to list someone else as the technical contact and set the nameservers to some host they control. The owner and administrative contact should be at your company, though.
posted by cmiller at 6:34 PM on March 23, 2007

Response by poster: cmiller, I'm afraid they are. They've been convinced by this other company to hand over registrant and administrative contact.
posted by lornoss at 5:24 AM on March 26, 2007

Response by poster: flamingbore, and it looks like they're just outsourcing it so that they don't have to worry about it.
posted by lornoss at 8:24 AM on March 26, 2007

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