The Great Migration

VeriSign has been e-mailing messages to its customers with the subject "New Username & Account Number...." If you receive one of these messages, save it. Print it and save it. Print it twice and save it in two separate, geographically disperse locations. You will receive another message via postal mail in the upcoming weeks. Send that to a close relative who you trust implicitly. Without the information contained in these messages, you will not be able to make changes to your domain in the future.

VeriSign, the company which used to be responsible for registering all the domains on the Internet, is migrating from one system to another. The old system was an arcane automation involving e-mail templates. To accomplish something as seemingly simple as changing the billing address on your domain, you had to create an e-mail template which they would then e-mail to you. You would then forward the e-mail template back to them. At which point, they would send you another message, asking you to approve the change. You would then respond to that message in the affirmative. The process took days and was fraught with confusion, delay, and errors.

The new system will allow you to log into their site with an account number and password and make changes without all the extra hassle. The new system promises to be much easier and more efficient. Given VeriSign's...uh hem...rocky history, anything is possible. Certainly the process of switching hasn't gone well so far. VeriSign quit responding to e-mail requests intermittently. They lost information on many of the domains being transferred. Some were left in an "inconsistent" state, where changes to the domain seemingly got lost in the vacuous void of cyberspace. VeriSign tech support will soon replace "military intelligence" as the quintessential oxymoron.

Nevertheless, VeriSign is headed in the right direction. However, to get there, they have to change everything. It's that process of change that will cause the most problems. E-mail notifications will get sent to defunct mail accounts at service providers that long ago went out of business. Postal notifications will get lost in the mail or get sent to internet service providers or web design shops rather than the companies for which they are intended. It will all happen at once, so no matter how much VeriSign improves their tech support, they will not be able to levee the flood.

Do I sound a bit apocalyptic? Well, I'm certainly not looking forward to what's about to happen. We've been dealing with the ramp up for some time now, and it has been terrible. We have a waiting list of clients who would like to move to our service but who can't because they can't make the appropriate changes to their domain. Messages and support inquiries sent to VeriSign take weeks to come back, if ever. Simply put, we're not looking forward to this -- not one bit.

But it will happen whether or not we want it to. Our hope is that our customers will receive the messages via e-mail or postal mail and will store them in a safe place...and remember where that place is when it comes time to make changes to their domain. So, please, head this warning: we can't do this for you. It's up to you to watch for this information and save it in a safe place.


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