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As we enter the final year of our five-year strategic plan, CIRA is at an inflection point. The world that existed when we wrote the plan is now only a memory and we must begin to prepare for the new landscape before us.

The increased complexity of the world in 2024 is both a challenge and an opportunity for CIRA. Governments around the world are beginning to regulate the internet, including here in Canada; nation state actors are a source of online threats and attempts to steer the future of the internet itself; and criminals are running rampant across the digital world, attacking critical infrastructure, governments and even small businesses. The work that CIRA does to counter these trends through our technology, advocacy and philanthropy, is more important than ever. Canada needs CIRA, and CIRA needs all hands on deck.

The reason for this urgency is because we know just how critical our mission is. The internet is perhaps the most transformative technology humanity has ever invented; it has generated trillions in economic growth, spawned entire industries from social media to e-commerce to AI, and allows each of us to walk around with the entirety of human knowledge in our pocket. The internet was the lifeboat for our society during the pandemic. In short, we know that the internet is fundamentally a force for good and that only by helping to build trust can we help our country and the world navigate the challenges to come.

This complex world comes at a time when our core mandate—to operate the .CA top-level domain (TLD)—is seeing significant headwinds. Despite an unexpected growth surge due to the pandemic, the global domain market has now settled back into its maturity phase. The reality of this situation is low single-digit growth which can’t keep pace with inflation let alone the ever-increasing costs of managing a modern domain registry. As the global demand for domain names wanes, we must focus on expanding our sales channels and supporting our existing registrars to ensure we are capturing a larger slice of this shrinking pie.

Gone are the days when ccTLDs around the world could stand up a simple registry made from bespoke code, managed locally and protected via obscurity. Modern registries are built by in-demand talent, run on expensive global infrastructure and protected by multiple layers of cybersecurity. Costs are rising and revenues are slowing.

Thankfully, CIRA saw this new reality coming several years ago and our decision to build our own best-in-class registry, migrate .CA onto it and then market it to the global TLD industry has put us in a position to make the transition.

Other registries are coming to this reality as well, such as our new partners, SIDN, who recognize that in a slowing market with rising costs, new technologies and industry consolidation, like-minded registries need to work together to ensure the future of the valuable assets we manage on behalf of our fellow citizens.

Similarly, the CyberDNS industry in which we operate is highly competitive and attracts an enormous amount of investment that puts CIRA at a turning point. While our cybersecurity products have been successful, they are highly reliant on technology partners who own much of the IP and as such consume a substantial portion of potential revenue. This situation is a risk to CIRA’s long-term sustainability as not owning and controlling our own technology stack makes us reliant on factors outside our control.

To mitigate this risk, CIRA is beginning a journey to reinvigorate its cybersecurity product portfolio with an emphasis on next-generation technology and increased control of our technology stack. This investment will give CIRA more control over its destiny and a more diverse product portfolio to offer to our growing customer base. In fact, this new product direction already has early support from several strategic partners.

In both cases—our partnership with SIDN and our cybersecurity product expansion—investment is required in order to fulfill the vision. FY25 is an inflection point for CIRA where we can better control our own destiny, and safeguard the future of .CA, by ensuring that we have the team, resources, technology and strategy required to compete. Running a safe, secure and competitive domain registry is not getting any cheaper and the growth we are seeing in the domain name market will not be able to match the rising costs in labour, technology and security. Now is the time to invest in CIRA’s future to protect its core mandate and enable new technologies, projects and products that will help drive our mission to build a trusted internet for Canadians.

This coming year will also kick off a major shift in global internet governance. To ensure CIRA is at the forefront of this process, leading up to WSIS +20, a United Nations-led review of the progress made towards a “People-centered, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society,” FY25 will see an expansion of our internet policy program to include a great focus on international fora. The leadership we demonstrate in public policy has a direct impact on our international and domestic reputation which creates real, actionable sales, marketing and partnership opportunities.

CIRA has always been at the center of Canada’s internet. However, given the changes we are seeing in the world, it is important to understand that the stakes have never been higher, and the opportunities have never been greater. CIRA operates at a scale now that we’ve never seen before, and our position within the internet ecosystem means we are a mission critical operation for Canada’s economy and society. CIRA’s mission to build a trusted internet for Canadians isn’t just a slogan, it is a fact.

.CA stewardship

FY24 saw the continued maturation of the domain name industry as global growth rates flattened. While .CA domains continue to outpace much of the industry, growth has still slowed to the low single digits as result of this global market trend.

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  • Shift towards more sales and conversion-oriented marketing activities.
  • Explore expanding our channel and business development efforts, including signing on more registrars, partners and finding ways to seamlessly integrate .CA domain purchases into our channel partners’ other offerings.
  • Support domains under managements growth towards 3.4 million by ensuring legacy domains are active and renewed.

Product expansion 

Since the implementation of CIRA’s diversified product strategy, our cybersecurity, DNS and registry products have seen steady growth. In FY25, CIRA will continue the journey towards increased revenue and contribution margins as well as expanding their reach and capabilities.

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Cybersecurity services

  • Build a sustainable business that contributes positively to CIRA’s bottom line after five years of focus on growing the brand within the industry.
  • Expand CIRA’s portfolio to provide a wider range of products that meet the cybersecurity needs of our growing customer base and keep pace with market trends. These new products will provide CIRA with the opportunity to move our portfolio further up the tech stack and offer the opportunity to control more of our technology.
  • Create new customer advisory boards to be the voice of the customer. This will help drive CIRA’s development efforts and provide insight into the real-world impact of our products.
  • Continue developing technical enhancements to CIRA products and infrastructure including the expansion of cloud technology with a focus on DNS innovation analytics capabilities. This includes investigating AI-enhancements in the portfolio.
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Registry services

  • Accelerate pre-existing roadmap with newly announced partnership with SIDN, the Netherland’s ccTLD, to develop a next generation registry platform. The partnership with SIDN will provide CIRA with more resources, expertise and a significantly expanded infrastructure base in order to continue providing a safe, stable and secure platform for .CA. Further, the cloud-enabled platform will increase our capacity and expertise to face increased competition, consolidation and technological change in CIRA’s industry.
  • Continue work to attract and onboard gTLD and ccTLD customers onto the CIRA Registry Platform.
  • Work will begin to prepare for round two of ICANN gTLD applications, including obtaining CIRA’s accreditation as a back-end provider.

Community Investment, Policy & Advocacy 

In FY25, CIRA’s Net Good initiatives and expanded policy and advocacy work will continue to add value to CIRA’s products and services and distinguish the organization’s unique role in the market as a not-for-profit service provider.

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  • Engage in global internet governance dialogues to galvanize Canada’s technical community’s participation in United Nations-led dialogues. This will strengthen the multistakeholder model of internet governance and prevent multilateral control over critical internet resources.
  • Continue to influence policy processes through strengthened relationships with senior policy and law makers to promote trust in the Canadian internet and to mitigate risk to CIRA’s business and operations.
  • Complete round 11 and begin round 12 of CIRA’s Net Good Grants program, funding community-led internet projects in the areas of infrastructure, online safety and policy engagement across Canada.
  • Launch two new initiatives that will empower Canadians to advocate for closing the digital divide and increase the resilience of Canada’s internet.
  • Bring free and secure community WiFi to low-income communities in Ottawa via CIRA’s supplementary grant to National Capital FreeNet.

Organizational enablement 

FY25 will bring many organizational changes, supported by our operations team. And the engine that keeps CIRA running is its people. Our people are what make CIRA great, and by creating an engaging, values-driven culture, we will continue to be able to succeed in the market.

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  • CIRA’s partnership with SIDN and new product direction in CyberDNS will draw on the expertise of the operations team as they formalize agreements, refine business cases, navigate internal stage gate and go-to-market processes and more.
  • Focus on the completion of major DNS site relocations in FY25. These relocations tie in with the implementation of CIRA’s environmental sustainability program.
  • Continue the implementation of CIRA’s cloud strategy, including a transition to a new ISO 2022 standard.
  • Review information management and collaboration tools, internal processes and corporate structure, as necessitated by the new SIDN partnership.
  • Refresh business continuity plans and conduct additional tabletop exercises to ensure CIRA’s state of readiness for a possible incident remains high.
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People, Culture & Brand

  • CIRA’s team will grow to support upcoming initiatives. Focus on managing this transition, while retaining CIRA’s great culture, will be a significant focus.
  • Assist in the integration of the .CA team into the Registry business unit, along with supporting collaboration with SIDN as the partnership kicks off.
  • Elevate CIRA as a thought leader that stands out in our industry by developing a brand awareness campaign focused on highlighting everything CIRA does to build trust on the internet and our position as a critical element of Canada’s internet.
  • Rollout new initiatives for our members including a membership perks program, new events and increased opportunities for engagement and direct feedback.
  • Engage with our community in cities, towns and online spaces across the country via events so individuals feel they can play a role in CIRA’s mission.