Preparing for New Domains Will Be Critical

InNovember, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)announced its acceptance of seven new top-level domains (TLD). The new domainshave implications for IT managers, who will need to act quickly to make suretheir companies are not left out of the new naming scheme.

The newTLDs are .aero for airlines; .biz for businesses; .museum for museums; .namefor Web sites of individuals; .pro for accountants, lawyers, and doctors; .coopfor non-profit cooperatives; and .info, which was left open by ICANN with noparticular category.

Registrationprocedures have yet to be set for the new TLDs, and ICANN has not yet authorizedany company to preregister TLDs. Companies should be wary of any company thatoffers to preregister a name in the new domains. Use of the new domain namesisn’t expected to happen until next summer.

The reasonfor the new TLDs is simple: universe has become too crowded. Oneindustry analyst, however, thinks ICANN made mistakes when it developed the newclassifications. The new scheme, “doesn’t make much sense from anorganizational point of view,” says David Curle, director and lead analyst atOutsell Inc.

“It seemscrazy because the criteria for what goes into what category is not veryspecific, [and categories] overlap a bit. Now that there’s a .com and .biz, howwill people know which is specific for a company? There’s a .aero, but why nota .rail or .auto?” In addition, several categories, like .aero and .museum,seem to Curle to be limited in scope.

Curle alsohas questions about the legal ramifications of the new system. He says that ifone purpose of these TLDs is “to eliminate domain name disputes, it’s not goingto help much.”

If there isalready litigation over the relatively few TLDs right now, imagine what willhappen when seven more are added. Enterprise managers need to be aware of thepotential problems here, Curle says. “If you grab a new domain similar toanother companies’, that company could challenge you. What you’ll see iscompanies registering in the new domains and waiting to see what happens.Pretty soon the .biz domain be as full as .com.”

There arealso substantial costs associated with the new domains. GartnerGroup says itwill cost $75,000 up front to develop a domain name strategy. “The recentlyannounced addition of new high-level domains, and the ongoing exploitation ofover 150 existing domains, will force the average Global 2000 organization toregister a total of at least 300 name variants by 2001,” Gartner predicts in areport.

The costsdon’t end there. Gartner estimates that for the average enterprise, ongoingrevision of domains to incorporate new high-level products, acquisitions, andmergers will pull another $20,000 annually from company coffers.

AudreyApfel, vice president and research director at Gartner, says it’s necessary tohave a strategy in place to do this properly. "We are recommending thatany organization that has, or plans to have, an Internet presence develop adomain naming strategy that goes beyond dot-com, with multiple names registeredin multiple registries."

It’s notenough just to take your current name in the different domains, either. Gartnersays it’s necessary to get names for future initiatives and products;misspellings; non-English variants of names; and names that are plays on acompany’s name, such as

Curle saysit will be important to collaborate on these decisions. “IT managers want tomake sure they’re talking to marketing managers. [They need to] be sure they’reon top of this and that any registering is consistent with the overallmarketing strategy and position.”

Apfel saysthat it’s important to get on top of this issue now, because as ICANN adds moredomains, the problems will multiply. “The future will bring more options, notless. Organizations with no plan for adapting their domain naming strategy tothese changes do so at their own peril."


InternetCorporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, Marina del Ray, Calif.,

OutsellInc., Burlingame,Calif.,

GartnerGroupInc., Stamford, Conn.,