The demand for DNS protocol extensions has grown in recent years, especially from countries where English is not the native language. The traditional DNS protocol is based on 7-bit character encoding and thus prevents non-ASCII characters from being used to name network resources. The situation has made it very difficult for users in non-English speaking countries to take full advantage of the Internet. It has also prompted many independent DNSroot implementations that are not interoperable with the global DNS. DNS resolution also lacks access control and service security. This has restricted certain applications that are trying to use or otherwise relying on the DNS namespace (e.g. ENUM). Efforts to extend the DNS for better security and manageability have been undertaken, but these are all subject to backward compatibility requirements, which can introduce deployment obstacles. The Handle System, developed by CNRI with U.S. Government support, has no such backward compatibility limitations. It can fully support the existing DNS and also extensions that have no convenient way to be made available in the current DNS.

CNRI proposes to develop and demonstrate an integrated Handle System/DNS capability that will support the current DNS functions. The proposed integration would allow traditional DNS requests to be mapped to traditional DNS servers and non-traditional requests to be sent to handle servers for advanced applications. A Handle Server API will be developed and deployed that will support addition of modules to a Handle Server without affecting or requiring changes to the basic Handle Server software. Advanced query and administrative functions will be provided for secure handle resolution. In addition, the Handle System reference implementation, now in widespread use on the Internet, will be updated to include a variety of new features such as wildcard queries, advanced service site selection, caching mechanisms and delegation of name authority registration.

Performance data will be collected in a testbed environment at CNRI and one or more coordination efforts will be undertaken to demonstrate the functionality of the Handle/DNS Server in real deployments with international collaboration. One example of potential collaboration in the use of such a server is with various elements of the publishing community now using digital object identifiers, which are handles that begin with the number "10". Specifically, CNRI proposes to collaborate with the International DOI Foundation in this regard.

A second example involves the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC). CNNIC is a non-profit organization responsible for domain name registration and administration for top level domain names under the TLD ".CN" and for Internet related policies and regulations issued from Chinese Ministry of Information Industry (MII). CNNIC believes that, as a secured global naming service, the Handle System has resolved many of the issues they face in today's DNS and, as a result, CNNIC has asked to work with CNRI on deploying a Handle/DNS system in China. CNRI proposes to collaborate with CNNIC toward this objective.

The smaller scope project is the system design and implementing of key elements of the system to integrate DNS features seamlessly with the Handle System. With in-house experimentation, CNRI will determine its feasibility for use with both Ipv4 and Ipv6. This effort will produce concepts and software components that will enable important DNS related strides to enhance Internet applications that depend on the use of DNS and those that require handle resolution.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Advanced CyberInfrastructure (ACI)
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Kevin L. Thompson
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Corporation for National Research Initiatives (NRI)
United States
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