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Domainz Acts Smartly To Correct Internet Problem


Domainz the company that manages registration on the Internet in New Zealand has acted promptly to fix a problem that arose with the rollout of a new system to register domain names.

The company which began registering Domain names under the new "Advantage" system early last week, found that a program glitch meant that six Registrar companies, which register domain names for clients were having their private password with Domainz actually sent out to some people who registered through them.

Domainz corrected the problem immediately and contacted the Registrars concerned to apologise for the mistake that arose due to a programming error in the late stages of development.

Chief executive Patrick O'Brien says the problem was picked up yesterday morning and no lasting damage is expected, as all Registrars affected have now changed their passwords with Domainz.

"We are not saying there have been no problems. Of course with the introduction of a new system like this you would expect some hitches during the rollout period and we acknowledge that these have happened here.

"The key issue facing the rollout was continuity of service to the .nz zone file system and changes here have gone very smoothly. The net has not lost a beat during the changeover, and we have already moved to build the zone files seven days a week, much sooner than expected."

Mr O'Brien says the system for registering or changing domain names closed on Friday evening a week ago and was up and live to the public by Wednesday.

"This was a day later than we expected as the conversion took longer than planned. On the Sunday night we had to go back to the very start of the process due to an unanticipated snag. We knew we had only one shot to convert all registrations to the new system and felt it better to be safe rather than sorry."

Mr O'Brien says that on Wednesday, it became clear that people were flocking to have a look at the new web site causing the system to over-load and lock-out some users.

"The web interface was worked on overnight and by morning the system was performing much better.

"However on Thursday afternoon we hit a serious database issue, whereby the system which we use to replicate all files in Auckland as well as Wellington became locked. This caused the network to get extremely busy trying to unlock itself between the two locations.

"The net result was a gradual slow down in performance resulting in most users being locked out of the system by 4.30 in the afternoon.

"To address the issue we closed the web server down overnight, to once more look at tuning access, and made some changes to the SQL database configuration to prevent the issue recurring."

"There have been bugs and there will continue to be bugs until the system is fully bedded in. This is a new system that delivers a lot more functionality than our old web site. As issues are flagged each one will be listed and fixed."

Mr O'Brien says while some users were naturally frustrated, Domainz has received some very positive comments from ISP's.

These include such remarks such as "I think the new system looks really good, and is going to be much tidier for us to use" from one ISP and "my experience with the new system, has been overwhelmingly favourable, especially taking into account the magnitude of this project", from another.

This ISP has told Domainz how just two weeks ago they registered 20 Domains at one of the new DotCom registration firms in the USA and it was a "nightmare".

Mr O'Brien says he is confident that once the new system is fully bedded in its advantages will be obvious including its ability to list new names more quickly as new zones can be built twice a day, seven days a week.

He says that Registrars will also have a much better way of managing their portfolio of name holders, with name holders having much less information to maintain and a much easier way to maintain it.

"Prices are lower to name holders who Domainz bills directly with up to a 41 percent reduction for a second name on their account. Substantial discounts are also available to Registrars, such as a $20 renewal fee for high volume Registrars who on-bill themselves, compared to the $44 fee Domainz charges name holders registering directly."

Mr O'Brien says that while the issues encountered with the introduction of the new system have been annoying, not least of all to Domainz itself, the introduction has gone well in comparison with problems encountered elsewhere.

"For example, the introduction of a new system in the DotCom space took six months to bed in. Their test Registrar program took longer to start than planned, lasted longer than planned, and the whole system really did take considerably more bedding in then expected.

"If we look back to 1996 in the .nz space, when the University of Waikato system was introduced, that took six months to really stabilise, right now the new system is only six days old."

Mr O'Brien says the challenge was to introduce as much change as possible whilst managing the major risks of loss of continuity during the change to the new application. As well it involved the complete uplifting of the service from a Hamilton operations center, to a twin centered approach in Auckland and Wellington.

"I suspect most folks do not really understand just how major a move this was and the risks associated with it, and how they have been taken care off."

Mr O'Brien says continuity of service has been provided and he is confident all the bugs will be worked out in an orderly manner.

He says the advantages of the new system are already showing through with it able to handle up to 400 simultaneous users at one point during the week.

Mr O'Brien thanked users for the patience they have shown during the introduction of the new system.


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