Building for the future
The Internet industry has been characterized by rapid and fundamental change in recent years. This change has brought disruption, innovation and the promise of new opportunities. It’s an exciting time.
The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) is facing this challenging environment head-on. The CIRA team has identified opportunities within a changing market to deliver a safe and secure operating environment for .CA, while continuing to invest in the Canadian Internet community.
Looking back at CIRA’s 2014-2016 strategic plan
Fiscal year 2016 was a pivotal point for the organization.
The end of one strategic plan (fiscal year 2014-2016) and the adoption of a new plan (fiscal year 2017-2020) marked a pinnacle time for CIRA to reflect on its success and consider the future of the organization.
In the 2014-2016 strategic plan, CIRA predicted a domain market that would experience unprecedented upheaval. Over the past 18 months, the domain industry has been turned on its head. The introduction of 1000+ new generic top level domains (gTLDs) represented a challenge and an opportunity for CIRA and it embraced the opportunity head-on. Recognizing headroom in the Canadian domain market, CIRA has worked strategically with its channel partners to raise the profile of .CA in the Canadian market. This activity has ensured .CA continues to be a top choice for Canadian Internet users, in spite of new competition.
8-in-10 of our current customers are likely to recommend a .CA domain to someone else looking to register a new domain name.
Strategic Counsel/CIRA tracking research
CIRA’s 2014-2016 strategic plan laid out the roadmap for CIRA’s continued growth, nurturing the .CA domain name space, while enabling revenue diversification. With incremental investment in new product development, CIRA has built on its expertise in DNS and registry operations. CIRA launched the D-Zone Anycast DNS service, representing CIRA’s commitment to fostering a safe and secure Internet in Canada for individuals, businesses and public entities. CIRA has also introduced registry services product offerings, such as the Fury platform and gTLD workshops, making CIRA a strategic choice for individuals and businesses looking for ways to operate their domains securely.
To enable this diversification, CIRA has built new technical expertise and operational capacity. At the end of fiscal year 2016, new products, increased intellectual property, and the diversification of CIRA team’s skills and abilities represented important assets as the organization entered a period of change and growth.
The 2014-2016 strategic plan focused on new investment in technology and people, but it also represented a major, intentional strategic shift. The organization needed to scale, increase its operational velocity, and streamline processes to enable new ways of working. Throughout this shift, .CA has remained the core of CIRA. CIRA has maintained its high standard of operational excellence, balancing new opportunities with its legacy mandate to operate a world-class registry.
This work has helped CIRA invest in the Canadian Internet landscape. CIRA has made important investments in Internet infrastructure, skills, research and policy to improve the Internet experience for all Canadians.
The domain industry today
The approval of new domain extensions by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) a few years ago signifies one of the biggest changes to the Internet since its inception. Many of the proposed new TLDs came online in fiscal year 2016 and there are now more than 1000 new domain extensions on the market. These new competitive forces are being felt by both country code top level domains (ccTLDs) and legacy domain operators, but also by new gTLDs, themselves. Business models are being tested and will need to adapt. Operators of new domains, for example, are still working out how to create sustainable revenue in what has become a crowded domain market.
Growth in new gTLDs
Several Internet giants who were considered major players in the rush to capture new domains have yet to launch. Both Google and Amazon have been slow, (or cautious), around capitalizing on the dozens of new domain extensions owned between them. There will be further change in this market. With new gTLDs coming online weekly, it’s still too early to assess the full impact of new gTLDs.
CIRA completed fiscal year 2016 in a strong and sustainable financial position.
.CA continues to grow
*Total industry growth for ccTLDs without China.
The .CA domain experienced continued growth in fiscal year 2016, with 2,463,269 .CA domains by March 31, 2016, out-pacing CIRA’s internal forecasts. Globally, the legacy TLD and ccTLD community is experiencing a declining growth rate, with many of CIRA’s peers experiencing negative growth in recent years.
2,463,269 registered .CA domain names
CIRA has worked hard to slow the decline in growth. Strategic advertising spending, channel-focused programming to increase the .CA profile in the market and continued reinforcement of the .CA brand have allowed CIRA to successfully maintain growth in a stagnating market. CIRA continues to be one of the fastest -growing legacy TLDs. Since 2013, .CA has consistently outpaced average ccTLD growth.
With over 2.4 million domains under management, CIRA is in a strong position to maintain the security and stability of the .CA domain name space, while continuing to grow incremental diversified revenue. CIRA has continued to invest in .CA performance by improving DNS resiliency and continually upgrading the underlying infrastructure. During a period characterized by change and transition, CIRA has maintained high levels of satisfaction among its core customer base.
Average annual registrant satisfaction score over last five years: 79%
Helping CIRA’s channel succeed
CIRA’s channel partners represent some of its most important relationships. The domain resellers, hosting companies, Internet entrepreneurs that sell domains to Canadians. A sustainable Canadian domain industry is critical to the success of .CA and helps maintain financial stability for CIRA’s future.
In fiscal year 2016, CIRA once again offered channel marketing programs to encourage channel partners to promote .CA through their websites, social media and advertising and through price incentives to the end user.
CIRA’s 2016 channel marketing program helped amplify marketing tactics deployed by the channel. Through the program, channel partners who put .CA at the forefront of their Canadian business were given unique access to CIRA resources to help them market .CA prominently. Analysis shows .CA growth for fiscal year 2016 benefited from successful multi-channel digital marketing programs with key channel partners.
CIRA’s 2014-2016 strategic plan laid a solid technology and product foundation for the organization going forward.
Canada now has one of the best DNS infrastructures in the world
Over the course of CIRA’s 2014-16 strategic plan, the organization recognised the need for a superior DNS infrastructure to support the .CA domain name space from a new generation of malicious actors and online threats.
The CIRA team has built a world-class Anycast DNS network that can compete with the best in the industry. As part of CIRA’s interest in building a better online Canada, CIRA has made this service available to customers under the banner of CIRA’s D-Zone Anycast DNS. D-Zone allows customers to offer a more resilient Internet experience for their Canadian users. As more customers sign onto D-Zone and invest in the hygiene of their DNS, Canada’s Internet ecosystem becomes ever-safer. CIRA’s message of a Canada-first DNS is resonating with progressive Internet leaders who are looking for new ways to serve the Canadian market with top-tier services.
What is the DNS?
The DNS or domain name system is at the core of the Internet’s functioning. The DNS ensures that when you enter a request into your web browser or email client that it gets delivered to the right place using a language that computers understand. It is the link between your computer and the millions of possible server locations around the world that host the information that make-up the Internet.
As part of our own enterprise risk management, we have taken note of DDoS attacks on government sites. We wanted to make sure the city’s information is better protected and that Hamiltonians can access online services with reliability and speed. That there was no capital investment required and a lot of support up front and ongoing from the Canadian Internet Registration Authority makes D-Zone Anycast an excellent choice for the City of Hamilton.
Peter MacNeil, Chief security & technology architect for the City of Hamilton
Creating a registry built for business
Development of CIRA’s new Fury registry services platform was completed at the end of fiscal year 2016. Created with the future needs of the .CA domain top of mind, CIRA’s registry services platform incorporates features that allow TLDs to compete in the modern domain business. This platform meets the need for stable, secure back-end management, while also delivering unique models for pricing, promotion, and support that will help drive revenue and growth in a competitive market.
As part of its registry services business, CIRA is helping Canadian organizations understand the opportunities presented by new TLDs and supporting Internet leaders in their decision making as they determine how new TLDs fit into their digital strategies.
CIRA has focused on building a team, business structure and processes suited to a demanding market.
Talent is CIRA’s strategic resource
CIRA has worked hard to build out its team with the right mix of skills and talent in place to help the company achieve its goals. Thanks to steady investment in new staff, CIRA is now home to some of the top DNS experts in the world, many leading developers, business experts and marketers. As CIRA continues to establish new lines of businesses and nurture Canada’s Internet community, this talent base is critical.
CIRA has invested in creating a culture that rewards innovation and excellence.
CIRA’s investment in culture and talent is working. For two consecutive years CIRA has been recognized through the AON Hewitt Best Small and Medium Sized Employers program, and named a top employer in the National Capital Region by Canada’s Top Employers. This elevated reputation helps CIRA to continue to recruit top talent, as skilled individuals choose where to make their mark.
Building an innovation engine at CIRA: CIRA Labs
CIRA has embraced the will to do things better at all levels of the organization. From advancing the state of Canada’s DNS infrastructure, to creating new products and services that help support CIRA’s mandate, the CIRA team is taking seriously the need to innovate and respond to a changing business climate.
CIRA Labs was launched to bring innovation into the core of the business. As a hub for new ideas and technologies and led by CIRA’s chief technology officer, the goal of CIRA Labs is to develop new products and programs that will support CIRA’s product development, financial sustainability and build a better online Canada.
CIRA is committed to a strong and sustainable vision for the Internet in Canada and understands that partnerships, collaboration and dialogue are the best ways to approach the complex challenges facing Canada’s Internet community.
Collecting data in the public interest
In fiscal year 2016, CIRA completed the deployment of its Internet Performance Test (IPT). With three test nodes located in Toronto, Montreal, and Calgary, Canadian Internet users have been given the capacity to test the performance of their Internet in real network conditions. CIRA’s test accounts for network congestion, time-of-day, and other factors that may affect network performance. The test also records DNSSEC and IPv6 adoption, helping CIRA to report on Canada’s progress on future-proofing its network with the latest technologies.
In April, CIRA reported on the initial results of the Internet Performance Test, helping Canadians understand how their city or province ranks against other major centres.
The IPT results can help inform discussion and provide an important benchmark for organizations and governments working to improve Canada’s Internet performance.
Since CIRA's test is crowdsourced, every new user helps improve the results.
A catalyst for Canada’s IXPs
CIRA has long been a champion of Canada’s Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) as a catalyst for their creation and success through funding, governance support and technical guidance. CIRA operates on the fundamental belief that content providers, ISPs, and major Internet users, (such as enterprises, universities and school boards), should consider peering as a critical option to reinforce the resilience of their networks and improve performance. CIRA has continued this work with several IXPs this year, advocating for peering and strong Canada-first Internet architectures wherever possible.
Convening Canada’s Internet community
CIRA held the fifth annual Canadian Internet Forum (CIF) in June 2015, bringing together over 100 Internet stakeholders to address the urgent issue of global governance. The event featured leading voices in the debate around the transfer of the U.S. government’s traditional oversight role of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions, a critical moment in the history of the domain industry and the Internet more generally.
The CIF is inspired by the global Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and was first launched by CIRA with the encouragement of Industry Canada. Each year the forum brings together the Canadian Internet community to address pressing issues in Internet governance and policy.
Over $2 million invested in Canada’s Internet community
CIRA’s Community Investment Program (CIP) is a critical component of CIRA’s support for positive change and innovative solutions in Canada’s Internet community. The CIP has invested over $2 million in 54 projects since its launch in in 2014. This year’s grant recipients address a diverse range of issues, including digital literacy, privacy and security, access, connectivity and more.
With the Community Investment Program, Kids Code Jeunesse has been able to grow from an idea into a nationwide organization that supports thousands of children and teachers with computer programming in the education system. As one of our founding supporters, the Community Investment team has become part of our organization and encouraged us every step of the way.
Kate Arthur, Founder & Executive Director, Kids Code Jeunesse
An additional $1 million in funding was committed for FY17. Funding decisions are made by the Community Investment Committee, a blue-ribbon panel of CIRA board members and community experts.
Making an impact
* outcome statistics self-reported by grant recipients as of March, 2016
In the final months of 2016, CIRA’s board of directors approved an ambitious new strategic plan for 2017-20. This new plan focuses the organization’s attention on the continued delivery of .CA, and reaffirms the organization’s commitment to Canada’s Internet community. CIRA’s new plan is realistic, while remaining aspirational, and commits CIRA to building a better online Canada.
CIRA membership offers .CA domain holders a way to get involved in CIRA’s governance and network with Canada’s Internet leaders.
CIRA’s approximately 14,000 Members ensure that CIRA and the .CA domain continue to operate with the needs of Canada’s Internet community top of mind. CIRA Members elect the organization’s board of directors and play a role in the organization’s governance. CIRA Members convene annually both in-person and online at CIRA’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) and at Member networking events in communities across the country.
CIRA works to keep its Members informed and engaged with interesting events and a compelling quarterly newsletter.
Average annual Member satisfaction score over fiscal year 2014-2016 strategic plan: 80%
Businesses or individuals with a .CA domain can easily become Members by visiting www.cira.ca/membership and submitting an application.
Download CIRA’s fiscal year 2016 financial statements.
CIRA’s top ten vendors
The following are CIRA’s top ten vendors for fiscal year 2016, presented in alphabetical order.
- Allstream Inc.
- CDW Canada Inc.
- Fleming Communications Inc.
- Lansdowne Office Inc.
- Oracle Corporation Canada Inc.
- Rogers Data Centre Inc.
- Scalar Decisions Inc.
My thoughts on CIRA’s fiscal year 2016
The 2015-2016 fiscal year marks an important pivot point for CIRA. We’re closing out on a three-year strategic plan and embarking on an ambitious new set of goals. It’s a moment for us to look back at how we have been able embrace change and position CIRA for the future.
Our 2014-2016 strategic plan predicted many of the trends that are converging on CIRA today. It provides us with the tools we need to seize emerging opportunities and continue to deliver on our core mandate of operating .CA, while building a better online Canada.
Globally the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) market is maturing and several of our peers in the industry have hit zero or negative growth rates this year. The domain industry is deep into the launch of the more than a thousand new generic top-level domains (such as .xyz, .work, or .nyc) approved by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in 2013. There are now more than 23 million of these domains registered.
Within this context, CIRA’s core business remains strong. We grew CIRA’s domains under management by four percent in fiscal year 2016 and we just reached 2.5 million .CA domains this month. We know there is headroom in the Canadian domain market (Canadians register fewer domains per capita compared to many other countries) and we are working hard with our channel partners to ensure that .CA remains an attractive choice for Internet users.
We cannot, however, rely on .CA registrations alone to support our business. We are making progress on our commitment to diversify CIRA’s revenue sources and ensure that we can continue to fund our operations at the same level. We’ve done this strategically, leveraging investments that support our core business to create products and services that can contribute positively to Canada’s Internet ecosystem.
We have built Canada’s most advanced DNS solution with our D-Zone Anycast DNS. The service has a larger Canadian footprint than any offering on the market, with locations in communities across the country that enhance performance for Canadian end-users and organizations.
Our DNS service has captured significant attention from information technology leaders looking to increase performance and resiliency for their Canadian customers and users. We’ve partnered with several of Canada’s major research and education networks, ORION, Cybera, and ACORN, to deliver DNS services to Canada’s universities and colleges, and we’re gaining momentum with hospitals and municipalities.
Thanks to CIRA’s reputation in the international Internet community, we are also gaining customers globally. We’ve recently announced a deal to partner with the .SE country code top-level domain to deliver an Anycast DNS service to their customers in Sweden and CIRA is now one of the DNS providers for .DK, the Danish country code top-level domain.
Over the last fiscal year we also completed development of our registry services platform and we’re now working to onboard our first customer: .kiwi. Built for the next generation of the .CA domain registry, our offering is also gaining interest from new gTLD operators looking for a flexible and simple-to-use platform for their business.
These efforts, combined with our ongoing commitment to nurturing Internet exchange points, funding the Canadian non-profit community, and convening Canadians on emerging Internet issues, have placed CIRA in an important and central position in Canada’s Internet ecosystem. Our partnerships and investment are helping to support digital literacy, innovative online services, expanded Internet access, and generate research on emerging digital issues. Since its creation, CIRA’s Community Investment Program has invested $2.2 million in 54 projects across the country, with another million committed for fiscal year 2017.
To learn more about CIRA’s projects and programs, please read our full reporting in CIRA’s Annual Report to Members. You may also be interested in reviewing our new fiscal year 2017-2020 strategic plan, which is available online here. I hope that you will continue to be engaged in CIRA’s activities going forward. CIRA is rooted in a strong Internet community and I thank you for being part of our progress through your membership.
Byron Holland, President and CEO,
Canadian Internet Registration Authority