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Reflecting on IANA’s Post-Transition Operations

21 October 2021

This month marks the fifth anniversary of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) stewardship transition, the culmination of a multi-decade effort to move direct oversight of some of the Internet's critical infrastructure from the U.S. Government to the global multistakeholder community that organizes itself within ICANN. The creation of ICANN in 1998 was the first major step in that process, and the stewardship transition in 2016 was its conclusion.

As we celebrate this milestone, it is a useful juncture to reflect upon what has changed, and what has not changed, in how the day-to-day IANA functions are performed.

On 1 October 2016, an entirely new oversight framework was put in place for the IANA functions. While most of these changes did not alter the way the IANA team performs its core responsibilities, there was one immediate effect on how root zone management is performed. Before that date, each change to the Domain Name System (DNS) root zone required the explicit review and authorization of the U.S. Government prior to its implementation. The transition eliminated that process, which has streamlined how the DNS root zone is operated and resulted in a more predictable and timely processing for top-level domain (TLD) managers.

Speaking of timeliness, another important new accountability measure put in place as a result of the transition was a set of Service Level Agreements (SLAs) directly with the naming and numbering communities that benefit from the IANA services. The naming community, for example, established over 60 metrics for analyzing how IANA fulfills its responsibilities. Each month, under the auspices of the Customer Standing Committee, representatives of gTLDs, ccTLDs, and other community groups meet to review IANA performance against these metrics and report their findings. We are gratified that this group has found the IANA service satisfactory and is meeting expectations every month – without exception. In fact, we have met our SLAs with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and numbering community 100% of the time for the last five years as well.

In a practical sense, the IANA team is able to collaborate successfully with the community on a variety of matters, including providing advice on the practical implementation challenges of emerging policy ideas. The establishment of new bodies, like the Root Zone Evolution Review Committee, and the increased participation in various community working groups, like those in the ccNSO, enables broader collaboration and awareness of how the IANA functions are expected to fulfil expectations.

Not every aspect defined by the transition has stayed the same since 2016. ICANN and the community have been adaptable and made the necessary changes when needed. Already, modifications have been made to some SLAs for some of the IANA functions, allowing them to continue to be responsive to customer's expectations.

Our success to date could only have been accomplished with the strong support we've received from the community throughout the transition and beyond. We continue to strive to maintain your trust in our work by meeting and exceeding the high standards you expect from us, and continuing our open dialogue on evolving forward.

Five years represents a useful milestone to reflect on the post-transition model and identify opportunities for incremental improvements. Another outcome of the transition was a dedicated strategic plan for the IANA services, which aims for greater alignment with ICANN's planning cycles, re-evaluating how we can more clearly communicate the IANA functions, their role, and their oversight.

Over the coming year, the IANA team and ICANN org are looking forward to identifying opportunities to engage with the community to discuss these past five years. It will allow us to jointly reflect on these accomplishments, as well as develop ideas for the IANA functions' continued evolution into the future. We are looking forward to the ideas that you may have.


Kim Davies

Kim Davies

VP, IANA Services & President, PTI