October 21st, 2003

On DNS Innovation … (continue) …


Keith Teare responsed to my last blog entry so let me do a quick one to reply him. (ps: Yes, Keith is also a friend … great guy but we do disagree sometimes. :-)

First of all, I like to clarify that I think Site Finder is a service which will benefit many end-users. But I disagree with using the DNS wildcard to achieve this. This is why in my last entry I suggested we should explore this further in IETF.

Now, moving on to reply Keith…“Really! I disagree, SiteFinder is the new [i]case “b”! SiteFinder is saying – the domain does not exist, but it is adding to this by saying – here are some you may have intended to type.”

If Verisign add a new opcode into the DNS as the fourth possible response (the first three been (a) answer (b) no such domain (c) ask this guy instead), then yes, it is something we can explore. It will not break applications because it does not take away any of the existing possible answers and it is innovation within the DNS because it gives more possibilities.

Unfortunately, that is not what Verisign did. Instead, they use DNS wildcard, effectively took away (b) and replace it with a webpage that say “here is a possible answer”. The problems with this approach is that it assume browsing is the only application on the Internet (which is not true) and it breaks other applications which is dependent on having (b) no such domain answer.

[I should clarify that I am not suggesting Verisign to propose a new opcode. I am using it as an explaination for what they are actually doing and what they say they are doing.]

“I will simply repeat what I said earlier. SiteFinder is an above the DNS innovation. The wildcard is in the DNS. It is the escape from the DNS that allows SiteFinder to exist. The wildcard is a documented standard that even the IAB refrains from saying should be banned. SiteFinder is a search and directory service, running on http, above the DNS.”

Yes, the wildcard is a documented standard. But the use of it in the TLD is not.

The Internet is a huge cyberspace where many people depends on each another to provide their service. Many of them are documented but many of them are also undocumented. The way to harmony is to ensure we don’t break existing practices.

If a TLD launches with the wildcard (like .muesum), then not many people would complain. People would use .muesum with their eyes wide open knowing there is a wildcard in the TLD. On the other hand, .COM and .NET has already set a precedence in that it will answer (b) no such domain and it is not acceptable for them to take away.

This is why some have commented Verisign have not “play nice”, as in been a good neighbour and good service provider of the Internet.

As I said, there are many companies who have the capability and resources to do what Verisign is contracted to do for .COM and .NET and willing to do so.

As an analogy, imaging the chaos if one major ISP unilterately decide that should “innovate” the IP (perhaps to make it more efficient) and changed the IP packet format.

And this gets to another point I wanted to make. There are certain process for people who wish to change the Internet infrastructure to do so. Particularly, the Internet Standards are been defined in IETF and the appropriate thing for Verisign to do so is really bring their idea to the IETF before unilterately changed their DNS.

“So, to be clear. I do not mean to suggest that John Klensin supports SiteFinder. I do however suggest that if John was to be consistent he would support it. His RFC on dns-search at the IETF seems to me to be a very close approximation to SiteFinder.

Clearly the wildcard as a route to a search and directory layer above the DNS is not part of John’s documents. But the end results look very similar to me.”>

I would strongly disagree with you that John will support this. (I probbaly should send a note to John to ask him to comment on this). He is very clear that his dns-search is above the DNS and if anything else, the approach is more important to him then the result.

The whole argument about Sitefinder is more about the approach, and less on the goal.

“I believe the industry as a whole should be very open to this innovation.”

We are and there is a process to do so. Verisign are welcome to the IETF and in fact, many folks from Verisign are participating in IETF (including leslie who is the current chair of IAB). The is no excuse for them to say they don’t know about IETF process.

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