Frankfurt am Main, 04.11.2011 - .
- Internet silver jubilee ? .DE zone online since 25 years
About 100,000 times per second an Internet address ending with .DE is called up from somewhere in the world. Today, there are more than 14.6 million such addresses, and about 3,000 new ones are added every day. Dimensions that go beyond the imagination of even the most visionary Internet pioneers and that have fundamentally changed social and economic communication habits within only a quarter of a century.
5 November 1986: How it all began
The first step towards this evolution was made on 5 November 1986, when the country code .DE was included in the official list of IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority). With this entry, domains with the country code for Germany were permitted to be registered for the first time in history. In chronological terms, the Federal Republic of Germany thus was the tenth country to be presented on the Internet. Due to the German reunification in the year 1990, the country code originally reserved for the German Democratic Republic - .dd - was never used.
Thanks to its stable infrastructure and the comparably liberal registration conditions in (West) Germany, .DE soon gained the leading position among the country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) and clearly holds the first rank still today with more than 14.6 million registered domains. Second comes Great Britain (.uk) with currently about 9.7 million, followed by the Netherlands (.nl) with 4.7 million registrations. Only the generic TLD .com scores higher than .DE with a domain inventory of currently just under 97.6 million. 25 years after the launch of the German country code, on average 178 of 1,000 citizens of the Federal Republic hold a .DE domain. In purely arithmetical terms, thus every sixth German citizen has their own Internet appearance. And also in factual terms, nearly 80 percent of all domain holders under .de are private persons.
During the first ten years, administration and DNS service for .de were provided by universities, at the start even from the USA. Only in 1988, a German institution, the University of Dortmund, took over administration and care of the first six .de domains (dbp.de, rmi.de, telenet.de, uka.de, uni-dortmund.de and uni-paderborn.de ? chronological order of registrations unknown) from the US-American CSNET. In 1994 ? by then the domain inventory had increased to about 1,000 domains and thus tied up a critical amount of resources ? the tasks of the Deutsches Network Information Center (DENIC) were transferred to the data center of Karlsruhe University within the framework of a project with outside funding. Mandated was the project by the Interest Group of the German Network Information Center (IV-DENIC ), which was founded in 1993 by the academic DFN association, commercial service providers and the German Special Interest Group for Internet (Deutsch Interessensgemeinschaft Internet e. V., DIGI) ? an association of non-academic users. Until DENIC eG in its current form as a cooperative was founded by 37 German Internet service providers in December 1996, the University of Karlsruhe remained responsible for the administrative tasks and until 1998 also for the technical administration of .DE. Only then, all central services of the Top Level Domain were concentrated in Frankfurt am Main, where DENIC started its business as a neutral service provider at the beginning of 1997 - with a domain inventory that had reached six-digit dimensions for the first time. DENIC's headquarters are still located in Frankfurt am Main today.
DENIC ? a vital pillar
During the 15 years of its existence, the operator of .DE organized in form of a cooperative and comprising today 280 member companies of the German and international Internet industry, thus representing a broad cross-section of the diverging interests of all Internet user groups, repeatedly took a leading role in further developing the registry services and setting technical standards: To start with, DENIC was a pioneer when it introduced the registry/registrar model as early as in the 1990ies, long before any other of the large TLDs considered this model. In the registry/registrar model the Internet service provider assumes the role of an agent who connects the registry and the final customer via an electronic interface. DENIC also was the first country code registry that started to run its name server network completely independently in 2003. And in 2004, the Cooperative was one of the first TLDs that included IDNs (Internationalized Domain Names) in their character set permitted for domain names.
In 2007, DENIC expanded its own data center operation and implemented a comprehensive redundancy concept. Basic data centers of dual redundancy at two geographically distant locations ? Frankfurt am Main and Amsterdam ? now guarantee utmost resilience and security. These mirror data centers are not only used for the registration system, the domain database, backups and the information services (such as whois), but also for controlling the multiple-redundant name service network, which is located at the currently most important Internet hubs in the world. All in all, 16 state-of-the-art name server clusters of the latest generation with sufficient backup reserves to be upgraded according to requirements, as necessary, ensure that .DE domains can be reached all around the clock from any place in the world within a fraction of a second. Thanks to the capacity reserves of the applied solution ? dimensioned for several million queries per second ? .DE is perfectly prepared for the technological challenges of the coming years.
Within the scope of DENIC's new field of business, infrastructure services, third-party TLDs may book secondary DNS services since 2010 and thus benefit from the worldwide accessibility and the high computing performance of DENIC's name servers. At present, the two anycast clouds of .DE (i.e. computers located at nine different geographical locations that are addressed via one single IP address) are used under the cost sharing model by the ccTLDs of Austria and Luxemburg.
At the end of May 2011, after 18 months of testing, DENIC introduced the protocol extension DNSSEC (Domain Name System Security Extensions) for the .DE zone. More than 200,000 second level domains under .DE are currently signed,thus can be checked on authenticity ? the most renowned of them is paypal.de.
Excellent brand image
In the meantime, the business model of self-controlled domain administration including the independent operation of the related technical infrastructure has long proven successful in Germany. After now 15 years of administering and providing technical support for .DE domains, DENIC stands for competence, reliability and integrity and enjoys much trust and respect among German politicians.
Not only pioneers like Vint Cerf, who generated a crucial technical basis for the Internet already in the 1970ies when he contributed to the creation of the TCP/IP protocols and has essentially shaped the evolution of the web since then, attested the neutral operator of the German country code Top Level Domain an extraordinary performance: "In a complex, continuously changing environment like the Internet, DENIC has rendered registry services of unchanged perfect quality over a long period."
That this opinion is shared by the Internet community was proven by a EURid study executed in 2010, which investigated the ranking and the attractiveness of leading TLDs. 400 participants respectively in ten countries gave the German country code TLD top marks. .de emerged as the leader in this study before .com and .co.uk. The evaluation criteria applied were brand "Awareness", "Relevance" and "Preference" as well as service quality.
Already in 2009, the annual report of the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG), the world's largest independent group for combating cybercrime, had rated the .de zone one of those with the highest phishing resistance and thus also underlined the outstanding reliability of the German TLD.
Commitment beyond .de
Faithful to its principle of registration, "first come, first served", DENIC as a neutral cooperative operating as a private-sector not-for-profit organization feels committed to the basic concept of democracy and non-discrimination of the Internet. This commitment is mirrored in the various sponsoring activities of the Cooperative: As part of its strategy to promote the development of (open) standards and thus provide sustainable benefit to the Internet community, DENIC has, for example, been a sponsor and member of the Steering Committee since 2009 and has thus supported the development of the new version of the world's most frequently used name server software BIND by the Internet Systems Consortium (ISC) and has contributed the important user perspective. On top of that DENIC invests in excellent training for the leaders of tomorrow as one of the main sponsors of the European Summer School of Internet Governance (EURO-SSIG), which ? conducted by experts from universities and companies of the Internet industry ? prepares an international group of participants for the future challenges of the global administration of the Internet every year.
WWW as an economic factor
According to a McKinsey study published in May 2011, the Internet sector as a key industry generates 3.2 percent of the German gross domestic product and thus ? not only due to a growth rate of 24 percent in the last five years ? has become a more important economic factor than the energy industry or agriculture. Even after 25 years .DE is and remains a critical element of this success.
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