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The Proposal

C18. Transition Plan. This should present a detailed plan for the transition of the Registry Function from the current facilities and services provided by VeriSign, Inc., to the facilities and services you propose. Issues that should be discussed in this detailed plan include:


The transition to the new registry must be seamless: any flaws in this process will damage the credibility of the new registry and damage the potential of the .org TLD. This is not an option or a ‘nice to have’ – it is the vital first step in establishing the new registry.

A smooth transition poses significant technical challenges, not least the need to work closely with the incumbent registry operator on a project in which they by definition have no long-term interest.

Moving a registry to a new operator, with systems which will differ in many details from those of the incumbent, is a significantly greater technical and organisational challenge than starting a new registry from scratch under controlled conditions. However, Poptel’s experience as a registry operator and its manifestly successful launch of .coop, combined with AusRegistry’s successful migration of the existing .au data from the previous 4 independent and vastly different registries has prepared us well for this challenge and puts as in the rare position of having experience of migrating a registry system.

Our transition plan, detailed below, is grounded in a careful analysis of the characteristics of the existing registry. It is realistic and, where necessary, based on sensible assumptions. Our intention is to work closely with the incumbent registry operator, VeriSign Inc. in the interests both of the .org TLD and of the wider Internet and we believe that with this co-operation our approach is optimal.

Working with the incumbent

The contractual and working relationship between Poptel and VeriSign Inc., assuming that our bid is successful, will be the key the successful transition between registry operators.

VeriSign is required under its existing registry agreement to “make all commercially reasonable efforts to cooperate with ICANN and the party designated by ICANN as successor operator to facilitate smooth transition of the operation of the Registry TLD.

This contractual provision could be interpreted to contemplate either a relatively passive role for VeriSign, with cooperation provided for no compensation, or a more active role with VeriSign's duty being to provide whatever services are reasonably required to assure a smooth transition subject to the payment of fees for some such services, at levels such that VeriSign's refusal to provide the services in exchange for such fees would be "commercially unreasonable."

Because the active involvement of VeriSign would provide very substantial advantages to provision of a smooth transition, we have designed a plan that assumes an active role for VeriSign and the payment of appropriate fees. To assure that such a role can be successfully arranged, we hereby commit to pay any fee, for services required to assure a smooth transition, that ICANN determines should be accepted by VeriSign pursuant to its duty to "make all commercially reasonable efforts to cooperate". In the unlikely the event that VeriSign were to dispute ICANN's determination (contending that it is not required to provide the services in exchange for the proffered and ICANN approved fees), then we will cooperate with both parties to achieve a rapid arbitration of the dispute and we hereby agree (as an integral part of our proposal) to pay any amount determined by the arbitrator(s) to be necessary to render VeriSign's refusal to accept the proposed transition role "unreasonable" -- that is, any amount necessary to compel acceptance by VeriSign of the proposed active role, under the terms of the existing contract.

We have designed a transition which covers

  1. the working arrangement and division of responsibility between the new registry operator and VeriSign Inc
  2. the exact nature and scope of VeriSign’s participation beyond “ commercially reasonable efforts” required to be provided without compensation
  3. a proposed commercial framework underpinning the above
  4. a timescale for transitional arrangements

We therefore:

Have planned and budgeted for a transition plan which builds on the reasonable efforts cooperation envisaged above and assumes an active role for VeriSign in the smooth transition.

We do not propose a ‘big bang’ whereby the registry and all DNS services is transferred to the new operator in one step. This leaves little scope for contingency planning and is almost impossible to design with sufficient resilience for the current project.

Since a phased implementation will require reasonable efforts and support from VeriSign beyond that envisaged in the current .org contract, it is necessary to factor in the costs of this service.

The current timetable for the re-assignment of .org indicates that all contractual elements will not be in place until November 2002. It is not therefore reasonable to put forward a plan in which the transition to the new registry begins in December 2002 and is completed shortly thereafter and we have not done this. Our primary goal is to ensure the smooth, uninterrupted operation of the registry during transition, and we believe that a transition plan which involves operation support from VeriSign Inc. during the first few months of 2003 is far more likely to succeed.

We are also proposing [see Section C12] that VeriSign Inc. provide name propagation and resolution services for .org under contract to Poptel as the new registry operator, for the whole of the1st year.

While responsibility for the successful operation of the registry from 1 Jan 2003 clearly lies with Poptel as the new operator, it is important to encourage all involved in the transition to be involved in decision-making which may affect that process.

To this end VeriSign will be invited to appoint a senior member of their staff onto the Poptel registry Advisory Committee (see Section C35) during the transition period. The RAC will assist in the smooth operation of the new org registry. In particular, the RAC will approve the progression of the transition from milestone to milestone according to the plan detailed below.

Any fees to VeriSign will be staged and paid on successful and timely completion of a milestone, giving both parties an incentive to complete the work according to schedule.