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The Second Annual ICANN DNS Symposium

25 July 2018

The ICANN organization's Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) organized the second annual ICANN DNS Symposium (IDS), a one-day event focused on all aspects of the Domain Name System (DNS). IDS 2018 was held last Friday, July 13, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and this year's theme was "Attention, Domain Name System: Your 30-year scheduled maintenance is overdue"

Surprising as it may seem, the Domain Name System (DNS) is well into its thirties. The DNS runs remarkably well, and most users think of it as rock solid. But perhaps the system could be made healthier or could be improved to support even further innovation. The program for IDS 2018 explored putting the DNS through a scheduled maintenance with the kind of full diagnostic assessment routinely recommended for high performance vehicles. Members of research, academia, and operational communities shared experiences, data, and innovative thinking on the past, present, and future of the DNS.

The day started with a keynote from Dr. Paul Mockapetris, an Internet pioneer credited with being the inventor of the DNS, entitled "Lessons from history relevant to the future of DNS – principles and examples." Paul told the audience he expected that his list of lessons learned might be somewhat controversial. For example, he mused if the traditional tree structure of the DNS database was under pressure to evolve, and if the DNS engineering community could derive inspiration from many years of developments in the database field.

The rest of the day was filled with a dozen presentations. Some presenters looked back: Ed Lewis revisited and commented on the predictions and observations of an early paper describing the then-current design and operations of DNS. Brian Reid gave a short history of how the BIND name server has evolved along with the DNS protocol. Others focused on the DNS of today: both John Kristoff and Tobias Fiebig described the state of DNS operations dealing with data consistency and reverse DNS, respectively. Still other presentations looked to the future: Ondřej Surý commented on the historic baggage in the DNS protocol resulting from over 30 years of evolution and wondered if certain features should be removed. Jari Arkko asked questions about the level of concentration we now see in the various players in the DNS industry, notably in recursive resolvers. Benno Overeinder described the security features provided by DNS over SSL and wondered if its wider adoption would put pressure on DNSSEC deployment, since there is some overlap in the kind of protections provided by the two protocols.

Included among the various presentations were two panels. The first, entitled "DNS Weaknesses," was led by Dr. Steve Crocker with the panelists commenting on various aspects of DNS protocol and operations that they thought could be improved. The second panel, "DNS over Application Layers", covered the current trend to transport DNS over other protocols, including SSL and HTTPS, and was overseen by Allison Mankin.

We were pleased with a strong turnout of over 120 people filling the hotel ballroom and almost 50 who followed remotely, and gratified by many positive comments afterward, both in person and from our post-event survey. Attendees were impressed with the high quality of the presentations, appreciated the good interaction and discussion among the audience, presenters and panelists, and enjoyed having access to so many DNS experts. We are already looking forward to planning the next IDS, currently scheduled for May 2019 in Asia. We hope to see you there!


Matt Larson

Matt Larson

VP, Research