CWI becomes .nl-registrar

On 18 February 2014, Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI), the national research institute for mathematics and computer science in the Netherlands, became a .nl registrar.

Publication date: 21-02-2014

On 18 February 2014, Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI), the national research institute for mathematics and computer science in the Netherlands, became a .nl registrar. The move completed the circle connecting SIDN and CWI, the organization that gave birth to the .nl domain. It was eighteen years ago, at the end of January 1996, that CWI formally handed over responsibility for administration of the .nl domain to SIDN, the Foundation for Internet Domain Registration in the Netherlands – newly formed to fulfil that role. CWI remains the registrant of the first .nl domain name ever to be registered:

Registrar role means additional opportunities for CWI

SIDN administers the .nl domain, but services are delivered to domain name users (registrants) through a network of intermediaries (registrars). Many registrars are providers of internet services, such as hosting and access. However, large companies that register a lot of domain names for their own use or have a particular reason for not wanting to operate through an intermediary sometimes opt to become registrars as well. Although the overall number of .nl registrars has been declining in recent years, organisations still regularly become registrars. Nevertheless, the bond that the CWI and SIDN share through the .nl domain makes the CWI's enrolment a special event for both organisations. "CWI wishes to strengthen its ties with SIDN," explained Niels Nes, Head of IT & Facilities at CWI. "Having our own registrar account has technical benefits for CWI when it comes to registering domain names for projects and spin-off companies. For example, it's easier to convert the domain names of CWI's spin-offs when they become commercially independent. By using the extra facilities provided by SIDN (such as EPP key relay) together with SURFnet's logging and monitoring products and NLnet Labs' OpenDNSSEC software, CWI can also minimise the administrative load. We have been using DNSSEC at CWI right from the test phase in June 2011. CWI believes in playing a pioneering role and contributing to the security and stability of the internet. Close cooperation with SIDN is a natural extension of that approach."

CWI set up SIDN in 1996, together with SURFnet and NLnet

The relationship between CWI and the .nl domain goes back to 25 April 1986. That was when the .nl domain was delegated to CWI in Amsterdam. Earlier that year, Piet Beertema, Systems Manager at CWI, had applied to Jon Postel in the USA to have the .nl domain created and its administration handed over to the centre. At the time, Postel was responsible for the designation of top-level domains, a role now performed by ICANN and IANA. Beertema's initiative resulted in .nl becoming the first active country-code domain outside the USA. The first .nl domain name was actually registered on 1 May 1986. Not surprisingly, it was In the months that followed, applications for other .nl domain names gradually started to trickle in. By 1988, the trickle had turned into a flow, reaching about 700 applications a month by 1995. At that stage, Piet Beertema was still processing them all manually, but the volume involved was rapidly becoming unmanageable for one person. So CWI linked up with SURFnet and NLnet to create the Foundation for Internet Domain Registration in the Netherlands in 1996. So it was that SIDN took over responsibility for the .nl domain from the CWI on 31 January 1996. Eighteen years on, SIDN administers more than five million registered .nl domain names, of which nearly 1.7 million are secured with DNSSEC. With DNSSEC, a domain name can always be traced back to its rightful owner.


About CWI

Founded in 1946, Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) is the national research institute for mathematics and computer science in the Netherlands. It is located at Science Park Amsterdam and is part of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). The institute is internationally focused and renowned. Over 150 researchers conduct pioneering research and share their acquired knowledge with society.
More than thirty of its researchers are also university professors. The institute has also produced twenty-two spin-off companies. Its research findings are, for instance,  used in the development of payment systems, cryptography, telecommunications, public transport, smart energy grids and meteorology.
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About SIDN
SIDN is responsible for the functional security, stability and continued development of the .nl internet domain. The company administers more than five million registered .nl domain names and handles over a billion search queries every day. SIDN is respected for its expertise on the technical, legal and governance matters surrounding domain names and the domain name infrastructure. From that basis, SIDN is also closely involved with various wider community initiatives in the Netherlands and internationally, with the emphasis on increasing the security, reliability, openness and accessibility of the internet.
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Translation: SIDN