Byron Holland is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA). View bio
Have you ever had the experience where you meet someone for the first time and in the process of getting acquainted they ask you what you do and who you work for, yet when you tell them their facial expression suggests that you must be speaking in some foreign language…basically they have no idea what you are talking about?
Happens to me all the time.
I usually get one of three responses:
So, how about those Senators?
Someone runs the Internet?
I thought the government did that?
To which I answer; they will have a better season this year, yes, and no.
Fundamentally, we are the steward of a public resource, the dot-ca.
But what does that really mean? Our primary tasks are twofold. We resolve, or handle, about 700,000,000 dot-ca queries every day. That’s about 25,000,000 per hour, or 400,000 every minute. We have to do this in a 100 percent uptime environment, meaning our infrastructure never, ever goes down. We can’t: business, government, communications and people all depend on their ability to be able to type in a dot-ca address and get to their destination. Needless to say, this takes some serious hardware and expertise.
The other main thing we do, what we are most known for, is registering domain names. Currently, we register about 1,000 new domain names every day. We manage people’s privacy associated with their domains, the security of their domains, and the integrity of the domain system.
But we also do some other stuff that’s pretty cool. Because the Internet is a global network, we have to work and communicate with colleagues around the world. As one can imagine, our colleagues in Russia, Brazil and Saudi Arabia, let alone Iran, have some interesting perspectives on how the Internet should be governed. Making the net work, from a global perspective, is something CIRA is deeply involved with.
We also have to manage our brand, to educate and inform Canadians about the benefits of dot-ca, about what CIRA does, and about Internet issues in general that are important to all our stakeholders. Getting the message out is a never-ending activity.
Finally, we have the opportunity to engage in other activities that are beneficial to the Canadian Internet landscape. For instance, right now we play an instrumental role in the development of Bind 10, the software that runs the majority of the worlds DNS servers, those very servers that handle the 700,000,000 transactions per day. We don’t own it, but we are significantly participating in Bind’s development for the benefit of the entire Internet.
In other words, CIRA does a lot of critical and very interesting work.
So, in spite of the deer in the headlight looks I often get when I describe my job, I am very fortunate to have what I think is one of the coolest jobs around, in a great organization, doing important work for all Canadians.