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Best-of-Breed Software: Not Just an Afterthought

Every day, the ICANN org, Board, and community use a number of different software platforms and applications to create and collaborate on ICANN’s work. This is especially the case right now, with so many of us working from home. Each one of these programs serves a specific purpose, but few of us put a lot of thought into just how, or why, they got onto our laptops.

For ICANN org’s Engineering & Information Technology (E&IT) team, the software we choose is one of the most important decisions we make. We know that having the best tools means org staff can work more efficiently, the community can collaborate more effectively, and the Board can spend more time focusing on substantive matters, rather than technology enablers.

Recently, OKTA, the provider of ICANN’s two-factor authentication system, released their independent survey results. That report details which software platforms are being used by IT professionals around the globe.

I’m pleased to inform you that for nearly every one of the categories surveyed and reported, ICANN is currently leveraging the best-of-breed applications in our day-to-day operations. A few key examples include:

  • Video Conferencing: Zoom
  • Online Learning: LinkedIn Learning
  • Collaboration: Slack
  • Travel & Expense: SAP Concur

While the software we use may seem like an afterthought, each application serves a unique purpose and function. It’s critical that we’re using the best available platforms and applications, because it ensures that we’re able to work in the most efficient and effective manner. Beyond that, having best-of-breed software means our internal systems are all the stronger and more resilient against potential abuse, threats, and cyberattacks. As we work to fulfill ICANN’s mission, it is key that we lead the way in deploying these top-of-the-line solutions.

Regarding Zoom, which has been in the news following reports of issues with security and privacy, I want to note that we are following developments closely. Meanwhile, Zoom continues to be our video conferencing tool of choice. ICANN’s interactions with Zoom have been productive. Our questions and concerns have been speedily addressed, and new features have been added at our request. Zoom’s CEO, Eric Yuan, recently announced that his engineering team will focus exclusively on security and privacy during the April-June quarter. We will continue to pay close attention to developments.

This has not been an overnight journey, and I am very proud of the work we’ve done to get to this point. I trust that everyone is reaping the benefits of the good choices made available to them. If you have questions or feedback regarding any of these software applications and platforms, please do not hesitate to reach out to mts@icann.org or leave a comment below.

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    Domain Name System
    Internationalized Domain Name ,IDN,"IDNs are domain names that include characters used in the local representation of languages that are not written with the twenty-six letters of the basic Latin alphabet ""a-z"". An IDN can contain Latin letters with diacritical marks, as required by many European languages, or may consist of characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic or Chinese. Many languages also use other types of digits than the European ""0-9"". The basic Latin alphabet together with the European-Arabic digits are, for the purpose of domain names, termed ""ASCII characters"" (ASCII = American Standard Code for Information Interchange). These are also included in the broader range of ""Unicode characters"" that provides the basis for IDNs. The ""hostname rule"" requires that all domain names of the type under consideration here are stored in the DNS using only the ASCII characters listed above, with the one further addition of the hyphen ""-"". The Unicode form of an IDN therefore requires special encoding before it is entered into the DNS. The following terminology is used when distinguishing between these forms: A domain name consists of a series of ""labels"" (separated by ""dots""). The ASCII form of an IDN label is termed an ""A-label"". All operations defined in the DNS protocol use A-labels exclusively. The Unicode form, which a user expects to be displayed, is termed a ""U-label"". The difference may be illustrated with the Hindi word for ""test"" — परीका — appearing here as a U-label would (in the Devanagari script). A special form of ""ASCII compatible encoding"" (abbreviated ACE) is applied to this to produce the corresponding A-label: xn--11b5bs1di. A domain name that only includes ASCII letters, digits, and hyphens is termed an ""LDH label"". Although the definitions of A-labels and LDH-labels overlap, a name consisting exclusively of LDH labels, such as""icann.org"" is not an IDN."