On 12 and 13 October 2023, Afnic hosted the meetings of the “R&D” and “Tech” working groups of the European domain name registry members of CENTR. Benoît Ampeau, Partnerships and Innovations Director, looks back at this moment of excellence and sharing between peers from all backgrounds.
Remind us what CENTR is and what role it plays.
CENTR (Council of European National Top-level domain Registries) was created in 1998 and is the association that brings together the community of European country code top level domain operators (ccTLDs), like Afnic for .fr and DENIC the .de operator, etc.
It strives to provide a forum to discuss different practices, and to facilitate the co-construction of common initiatives and the development of projects between European Internet TLD registries.
CENTR currently has over 50 members and 8 partners.
It meets at a General Assembly and is organised into working groups. These working groups each have their own focus area: Administration, Marketing & Communication, Legal Affairs, R&D and Technology.
More recently, CENTR has supported the creation of the European Top Level Domain Information Sharing and Analysis Centre (EUR TLD ISAC) by certain of its members. This organisation aims to strengthen cybersecurity capacities and encourage collaboration between top-level domain registries in Europe and is a concrete example of the collaborative approach taken by CENTR and its members.
Afnic organised the meetings of the “R&D” and “Tech” groups over two consecutive days. Can you share the initial results of this choice of organisation with us?
The results are encouraging for Afnic as the organiser and host of the event, while the participants also spontaneously praised the way in which these days were conducted. The novelty was that it was the first time the two Tech and R&D working groups had shared a same agenda!
The event brought together more than 50 people in person from 18 different registries. The meetings are usually held at separate times or take the form of shorter joint sessions, at the annual CENTR Jamboree that brings together the whole CENTR community, for example.
The alternated plenary conferences and working time in small groups proved a particularly successful format. Working in small numbers encouraged active participation and specialist and productive discussions thanks to the combination of varied technical expertise. It also led to the concrete launch of new projects and their scheduling as soon as the meetings were concluded!
These organisational changes offered a number of benefits:
Firstly, we were able to see how the inter-group discussions and the convergence of expertise and views brought a forward-looking and exploratory vision to R&D and a more operational vision to Tech. The topic of transversality was also discussed as part of a round table on a well-known subject, but one that is still important to any organisation: the transition from R&D to innovation and production.
These days also provided an opportunity to share progress on themes common to many registries: DNS and NIS2 abuse and data use. Assessing these subjects under a dual prospective and technical spectrum allows for the possibility of faster and smoother advances in a stimulating environment.
Sharing experience encourages creative emulation! The proof: joint projects between registries were presented over the two days and have already inspired other counterparts to initiate this same type of cooperation.
The exchanges were also enriched by the diversity of the domain name registries: organisation models (university, association, society model), size of the structure (some registries have few employees who cover several functions while other registries have teams dedicated to technology topics), and the different the strategic and technological aims and priorities of each registry. It is interesting to see how we can make headway on common themes, with contributions shared by each participant.
In our community, and perhaps even due to the very nature of the history of the DNS, discussions remain very open. This openness was clear to see at these meetings, and it is always a welcome opportunity to be able to talk with our counterparts about practical cases as well as very specific subjects, in a constructive and caring environment.
It was our pleasure to conclude these days at Campus Cyber, thus ensuring excellent conditions in which to host the participants and raising the profile of this venue dedicated to the cyber ecosystem. More informal moments also help strengthen ties, for those already familiar with domain names as well as more recent arrivals.