We take the worry and stress out of using the internet
SIDN registers and manages all .nl domain names and makes them reachable for internet users around the world. The company is active in a variety of other fields as well, such as providing technical support for .amsterdam and .aw (Aruba). "Domain registration and publication are vital for the internet to work properly: we take the worry and stress out of digital life by connecting people and organisations," explains HR Manager Joanna Klaver. "If people couldn't reach .nl domains, the effect on our economy and our society would be devastating. So we work round the clock to help keep the internet working. We also do an increasing amount to tackle abuse, which threatens the security and stability of the web."
Secure and reliable
"A lot of the prevention work is based on the Domain Name System (DNS). That is a hierarchical system, whose data aren't all stored on a single server, so it isn't easy to bring down. Our security is extremely tight and it's being checked all the time by our managers and software developers." SIDN is a world leader in secure and reliable domain name registration and publication, says Klaver: "In 1986, .nl became the world's first active country-code domain outside the US, and it's now one of the world's leading domains in terms of quality. SIDN currently looks after almost 5.6 million registered domain names. That's roughly one for every three people in the country – an extremely high figure compared with the rest of the world. The internet now has a very large number of extensions, including about three hundred country-code extensions and more than a thousand other extensions, most of them with some commercial theme."
SIDN also contributes to the security and stability of the internet in the Netherlands, as well as to the development of global internet policy and technical standards. "The SIDN Fund supports new internet applications that add to the nation's prosperity," says Hesselman. "We also help people roll out new internet technologies, such as DNSSEC. That's a secure form of the DNS, in which digital signatures are used for validation. We make our expertise available to the community too. For example, we have helped to set up AbuseHUB – a system that internet service providers can use to identify IP addresses that have been recruited by botnets. We were involved on the technical side and put up part of the seed capital."
In 2011, Hesselman started a programme to fund external research projects, before going on to establish SIDN Labs – SIDN's own R&D team, which develops new internet technologies and systems. "At SIDN Labs, we focus mainly on innovations in the field of DNS stability and security, DNS big data and privacy management. For example, we are currently working with the University of Twente and others to set up self-organising DNS anycast systems. There won't be any DNS server hardware – just virtual machines, with an intelligent 'automatic pilot' to monitor the system and deploy virtual servers wherever the load is. So the DNS will have more effective and more efficient protection against DDoS attacks. With a set-up like that, the system manager operates on a different abstraction level from what we're used to: instead of telling the system how to do things, you just tell it what needs to be done." SIDN Labs has a dual role, both striving to enhance internal services and working with external partners to make the internet more stable and more secure. Collaboration amongst teams within SIDN is vital, Hesselman believes. "Technical people like us can only achieve so much on our own. We have to work with people who have management skills, software development skills, legal expertise and communication know-how. That's the only way to create something really new. That's the excitement of it."
An inspiring place to work
With the internet growing rapidly and the emphasis on innovation, there has been considerable expansion at SIDN in recent years. "We have developed a number of new functions," says Klaver. "We mainly want technical people who specialise in the internet, but we take on juniors as well. When you appoint a tester, a network manager or an application manager, you normally go for experience. But we also have people who came here as student interns to do their final study projects, and then joined the payroll straight afterwards. And people who have come through from Development to Labs. In those cases, it's all about potential and willingness to go on growing and developing with the organisation." Klaver is always trying to make working at SIDN more enjoyable for everyone, because she firmly believes that if people like their jobs, they perform better. "The aim is to create an inspiring setting," she says. "Everyone is inspired by different things, of course, so there is a lot of freedom, a lot of scope for personalisation. We also invest in the training and development of our people. There is a real team spirit here, and we do a lot of team-building activities, which the staff help to organise." The result is commitment, Hesselman and Klaver affirm. "In staff satisfaction surveys, we always score well on enthusiasm and engagement. Our staff turnover is very low; people move on to other jobs within the organisation. Everyone is proud to work here."
Computable 100 lists the top hundred ICT companies in the Netherlands, rated on the basis of financial data and image. First, the hard numbers are collated by the financial consultancy Mazars Berenschot. Then leading research agency Motivaction asks Computable readers about the various contenders' image as a business partner, employer and innovator. Computable 100 is the handbook for the Dutch ICT industry.
The interview is also available on C-stories.nl, where it is accompanied by two video-quotes.