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ICANN's New Hedgehog

6 October 2014

Patrick JonesPatrick Jones, Senior Director, Global Stakeholder Engagement

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ICANN DNS Operations – the team responsible for L-root – recently announced a name change, structure and new team members. DNS Ops is now the ICANN DNS Engineering Team. In the past few weeks, members of the DNS Engineering and Global Stakeholder Engagement teams have presented the latest developments on the team, L-root, and new DNS visualization tools at events such as UKNOF in London and ENOG8 in Baku, Azerbaijan. The following is an interview between Patrick Jones, Senior Director, Global Stakeholder Engagement and DNS Engineering Team Director Terry Manderson, as he talks about the changes and what is coming next.

Patrick – Your team recently renamed itself the DNS Engineering team, what is new and can you describe the reason for the change?

Terry – The rationale for the name change is seeded from the view that what we do in this team is far more extensive than just day-to-day operations. The team is also responsible for the whole of design for the platform that is L-Root along with the other DNS infrastructures used in ICANN. The team is also well versed with the deeper protocol aspects of the DNS and in fact a large portion of the Internet protocols published by the IETF. So 'Engineering' is an apt description given our expertise and ingenuity. You might also notice that we focus more on 'team' rather than 'department'.

ICANN, and especially ICANN's IT area, is maturing as an organisation and with that it has acquired a healthy adoption of cross functional teams, our team focus honours this with the full understanding that as we make ourselves and our expertise available to all other areas in ICANN, we will from time to time wax and wane our team size to achieve outstanding results.

Patrick – Are there areas of emphasis for the team over the next 6-9 months?

Terry – The very short term focus is about maturing our processes to ensure they are as robust and well formed as our infrastructure. However we really are making a concerted effort to look much further into the future and aligning the team strategy with the ICANN organisational strategy.

Patrick – You recently launched Hedgehog for visualizing DNS statistics, can you talk about this tool, how you see it being used by others in the community, and what advantages it may have other previous tools used by ICANN for L-root?

Terry – For some time we have realised that how we investigate DNS events and provide transparency to the DNS system, especially as a root server operator, needed improvement. The Hedgehog project has been underway for some time, with the design goal of improving how we collect, collate and view the DNS metrics from the 158 (and growing!) L-root server locations.

The benefits to transparency are clear for us, and if we see benefits others might also! That in mind, we have open-sourced Hedgehog to the community (see https://github.com/dns-stats/hedgehog/wiki/About). Apart from the DNS visualisation benefits of Hedgehog, it is also one of the reference implementations for the Root Server System Advisory Committee (RSSAC) recommendations on the measurement of the Root Server System (RSSAC002). If anyone from the community would like to try Hedgehog or become involved in its ongoing development they can visit www.dns-stats.org.

Patrick – ICANN also recently launched some new L-root instances with partners Yandex in Ykaterinberg, Russia, TW Telecom in Seattle, Emirates Telecom in Dubai, Micron21 in Melbourne. Are there gaps in the L-single coverage, and where would you like to see new instances in the future?

Terry – Ideally we would like to see at least one L-root server instance in every country, but as every savvy network engineer would tell you; geographic borders aren't always the best metric; The Internet networking ecosystem is a complex collection of business arrangements and policy decisions applied to routing. So even though a root server [instance] exists in a country, its service footprint might not cover as much of the Internet-connected population as one might hope. Perhaps a better view would be to have a L-root instance hosted by, or attached to, every significant transit provider. A mighty goal! For now however we have a few target countries on our list. We would love to hear from any organisation that is willing to host an L-root server. And I'd REALLY love to hear from potential hosts in the following countries: Hong Kong, Indonesia, Nepal, Bangladesh, South

Africa, Kenya, Mozambique, Egypt, Argentina, and Grenada. For more information anyone interested can visit http://www.dns.icann.org/lroot/host/.

Patrick – Thanks Terry, this is very helpful. If people are interested in following the DNS Engineering Team, they can be found online at https://dns.icann.org, and on Twitter @ICANNdnsEng.

Terry – Cheers.

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Terry Manderson is Director of the DNS Engineering Team, based in Brisbane, Australia. Patrick Jones is Senior Director, Global Stakeholder Engagement and based in Washington, DC.

Patrick Jones
Patrick Jones
Senior Director, Global Stakeholder Engagement

Patrick Jones

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