VeriSign To Run New RFID Root Directory

By Sean Michael Kerner

VeriSign has successfully managed the root DNS directory for .com and .net for years, serving over 10 billion lookups per day — and navigating its way through recent controversy over privacy concerns.

Now, the company is looking to leverage its work in the Internet development even further. It was awarded a contract to manage the Object Naming Service (ONS) for EPCglobal. The ONS will be the root directory for the EPCglobal Network, a system that will combine Radio Frequency ID (RFID) technology with electronic product codes (EPC) to create a standard way for partners to trade information about supplies, eventually replacing the bar codes that are used to transmit and receive product information today.

EPCglobal, a not-for-profit standards organization, is creating a global Object Naming Service (ONS) for the RFID/EPC system. Critical to that effort is the development and management of a root ONS directory to handle lookups for potentially billions of EPC queries per day.

VeriSign is no stranger to billions of root directory lookups per day. It already manages the root DNS directory of .com and .net, with a current capacity of 100 billion lookups per day on its ATLAS system.

“There is no real reason that the 100 billion has to stop there,” John Brendsel, director of EPC Network Services at VeriSign, told

“It’s very scalable and we will continue to add new capacity as the requirements from ONS dictate.”

According to Brendsel, this new development also will have a positive impact on VeriSign’s management of core DNS. “The more traffic we drive on an existing platform the more competitively we can provide that service,” he said.

“We have believed for a long time that the global infrastructure that we’ve built out for .com and .net could be also put to good use in other sort of big directory service type of applications,” Brendsel said. “This is a very significant validation of that.”

Under the terms of the deal, EPCglobal will pay VeriSign to build out and manage the ONS root directory platform on its behalf. EPCglobal will then charge a subscription fee to all of the companies that participate in the EPCglobal Network. In addition, VeriSign also plans to offer managed ONS services along the lines of the traditional managed DNS services that it currently offers to end users and channel

“EPCglobal has demonstrated a very significant commitment to making sure that the network is built out in a constructive and scaleable way,” Brendsel said. “Now we’re going to be focused on taking some of the ancillary and complementary services to market in helping to get enterprises up and running.”

The win comes on the heels of VeriSign’s controversial “Site Finder” program that it launched last fall and shuttered after the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) raised objections over the program, which redirected Web surfers to its own “Site Finder” page when they ran into “Page Not Found” errors on Web pages (usually after misspelling a Web address).

But VeriSign officials argued that the program had been well received by Internet users and represented an example of innovative new navigation tools.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based VeriSign has been positioning itself for the rise of RFID for most of 2003. Late last year, for example, it launched its EPC Network Services Suite. The services include an ONS Registry for product IP addresses, similar to the DNS registry. It also includes EPC Information Services, which assists databases maintained by individual entities in the supply chain, and the EPC Services Registry, which helps businesses search within the RFID-enabled network.

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