The domain sector is a complex industry for the uninitiated. And for good reason, its multilevel hierarchy and institutional diversity destabilizes from the outset. Then, the highly similar institutions naming end up raising doubts over the minds of the most curious users.
Don’t panic! Netim raises the veil on this channel of unknown but nevertheless well present in our daily life businesses.
What are the different institutions? How are they reporting to each other? What are their roles?
First of all, let’s summarize the various players involved in creating a domain name.
ICANN, the conductor
It all starts with ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). This non profit organization’s main mission is to manage digital Internet resources, such as domain names, but also to coordinate the various market players.
ICANN also imposes laws and regulations that affect the entire channel.
A Registry, an organization managing an extension
Registries are regularly compared to wholesalers. They link the producer (ICANN) to the retailer (Registrar). These organizations can be of different kinds. Some Registries are government ministries (such as the Sri Lankan registry), cooperatives or non-profit organizations. Others are profit-making business organizations or universities.
The goal of these organizations is to market available domain names for customers. This sale can be made directly to the end-user (Registrant), or in the majority of cases, through an intermediary (Registrar).
For example, the Registry in charge of the extension .com is Verisign and the one managing the .uk is Nominet.
Registrars, domain names’ resellers
A Registrar is an ICANN accredited organisation (like Netim) that has the authority to issue domain name operating licenses to the Registrant (final user).
In fact, unlike the Registry which manage its own extension, a Registrar deals with multiple extensions (several hundreds or thousands). A Registrar is in contact with multiple Registries in order to offer a large variety of extensions to its clients.
A Registrar can deal directly with the Registrant (end-user) or with Resellers.
Resellers, an intermediary between Registrar and Registrant
Resellers operate under the same principles as a Registrar. They sell domains to Registrants.
Nevertheless, they do not hold any accreditation and only acquire domains from Registrar. They offer less related services and are not in direct contact with the Registry administrating the acquired domains.
They are many different “types” of Resellers: web agencies, freelances… Most of the time, the sale of domain names is not their main activity.
Still lost? Think of it differently
Take the bakery sector, for example. In this metaphor, ICANN would be the governmental body regulating the wheat court, its quality, its distribution etc.
The Registries would be the holders of flour which they would then distribute to the bakers. The bakers would be the Registrars who would sell their bread either directly to customers or to merchants in remote villages.
These merchants would be the Resellers. They would come and get their bread from the bakers and then sell it to the inhabitants of the village.
If all this hierarchy seems complex and tedious for an uninitiated audience, understanding the functioning of this structure also allow the customers to grasp the process involved when assigning a domain name. The back and forth are sometimes numerous with some Registries as they can be very fast with others.
Besides that, these trades are presents in our daily lives. They represent an international structure that regulates the creation of domain names: the cornerstone of websites that we consult daily.