Afilias Upgrades .au Technical Environment for Testing

This AUsome! blog addresses the technical portion of the .au Registry Transformation Project. In today’s post, we describe the most recent technical upgrade designed to help registrars more easily manage the transition in June.

We previously announced the February 14th opening of Afilias’ Production Sandbox (Operational Testing and Evaluation environment or “OT&E”) in our Melbourne production facility. This sandbox allowed registrars to begin testing their systems for compatibility with the new, upgraded Afilias .au registry system. The February “Phase 1” of the production sandbox supported basic .au domain operations that every registrar does such as creating a new domain name for a customer (including eligibility information) and renewing a name.

Phase 2 opened on April 30th and already, nearly 80% of registrars have connected and begun testing. Phase 2 completes the functionality of the sandbox by adding the rest of the operations that registrars need to support registrants.  These include the following:

  1. Registrant transfer: auDA has special policies governing transfers of .au names to ensure that only eligible registrants end up with them. Such policies are strictly audited by auDA. The namespace is therefore protected against scams such as having an eligible registrant buy a name and then transfer it to an ineligible registrant. This requires special processes and registrars have requested plenty of time to test in advance.
  2. Reseller ID: Many smaller or start-up domain sellers purchase through accredited registrars instead of directly from the registry (hence “re-sellers”). Unlike in gTLDS such as .com, .au enables a reseller to be identified in the WHOIS record in addition to the registrar of record. This tailored solution merits testing.
  3. Policy Deletes: Occasionally, a name is deleted for a policy violation. The new .au system includes the ability to identify these as a “policy delete” instead of a normal delete (e.g. an expired name). Importantly, policy deletes have a 14 day grace period in which the violation can be cured and the domain restored.

In addition, Afilias has upgraded its free Registrar Toolkit (RTK) which will help registrars develop software for managing domain names in the upgraded .au registry.

All zones and functionality available for testing in Phase 1 are included in Phase 2. The final production sandbox will add in dual-factor authentication and is planned for release later this month; all registrars have been notified.

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