When retired schoolteacher Leora Rissin registered a dot-ca Web site for her new bed and breakfast this week, she never considered that she’d contribute to a digital milestone in Canada.
But she’s delighted that it worked out that way. “I’m starting a new business, the publicity is great,” she says. “It’s a good omen.”
Algonquin House is a B&B that’s nestled in Toronto’s High Park neighbourhood, and now AlgonquinHouse.ca is site number 2 million to register a dot-ca address with the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA). In its 25th year of operations, CIRA has doubled its registry in just four years, with dot-ca number 1 million being claimed in April 2008.
Since then, the registry has seen a lot of major changes, says Byron Holland, president and CEO of CIRA. In 2008, sites were still being recorded on the same registry as when it started as a volunteer project in 1987. Many of those founders are still influential in CIRA’s organization today.
“Back in the 2000s, some of their wildest dreams were about hitting 1 million domains,” he says. “Now we’re set up not just for the 2 million, but for 10 million in the domain.”
Whereas the old registry measured its performance in seconds per transaction, the new one looks at transactions per second as a metric, Holland adds. That processing power is needed to cope with the growth the all-Canadian registry is seeing.
Dot-ca is now the fourth fastest-growing Internet domain name registry and the 14th largest registry compared to other country-code domains (others include .UK for the United Kingdom, or .ME for the Montenegro).
Having a Canadian physical address is a prerequisite to owning a digital dot-ca address. The domain is about building a community of online Canadians, Holland says.
“What’s consistent through all that time is how much dot-ca says Canada,” he says. “Our research shows us that people feel more comfortable when they’re doing business online when they see dot-ca.”
That branding could help CIRA maintain prominence above the noise when the new generic top level domains (gTLDs) approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) come online next year. That’s when the Web’s suffix domains such as dot-com, dot-net, and dot-ca will be joined by thousands of new domains such as dot-search, dot-blog, and dot-love.
Also part of the brand’s selling point is its security, Holland says. The registry’s architecture has been recently revamped to be more resilient and redundant. There are five redundant nodes that operate the registry across Canada, placed in different geographies, running on different carriers, and operating on different power grids. There’s also a team of security officers at CIRA that examine security from a hardware, software, and process point of view.
“The bad guys are upping their game and we have to be one step ahead of that,” Holland says. “This gives us capability to soak up attacks from other points in the globe.”
CIRA’s pace of growth will continue to accelerate, he adds. It will probably double again in less than four years, but it’s hard to know the impact the new TLDs will have on the market.
Regardless of the new TLDs coming online next year, new B&B owner Rissin never even considered any other option besides a dot-ca address when she wanted to register a Web site.
“It’s quintessentially Canadian,” she says. “It has a flavor of home… it evokes dignity and hominess, and a sense of belonging.”
For CIRA, that may be a good omen.