News from 2019

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The Manager of Internet addresses

Source: Saarbrücker Zeitung, January 22, 2019. Article published in German, entitled “Der Verwalter von Internetadressen”

The St. Ingbert company Key-Systems registers Internet addresses. It is now also growing internationally. By Joachim Wollschläger.

Anyone who runs a website on the Internet first needs one thing: a unique web address. Because only with this unambiguous assignment can web pages be found online. And in the virtual world, too, there is something like registration offices where online residents are registered along with their website addresses, so-called registries. They register Internet addresses with country endings such as or special addresses such as “Sometimes these belong to government agencies, sometimes they are also privately owned,” says Alexander Siffrin.

But it doesn’t work as it does in real life, because the operators of an Internet site aren’t permitted to simply go to one of these registration offices and register. Instead, they engage companies like Siffrin’s St. Ingbert company Key-Systems. The company is a so-called domain registrar and is therefore responsible for registering Internet addresses.

Managing Director Siffrin is one of the pioneers of the Internet. Since his youth he has been working with computers. More than 20 years ago, the 42-year-old founded the company during his computer science studies. “Strictly speaking, it was a project during the semester break,” says Siffrin. The allocation of domain names had been liberalized in 1998, so it was no longer under state supervision. And the young student saw an opportunity to gain a foothold in the still young market of domain registrations.

What began as a semester project is now a company with more than 100 employees and a turnover of over 40 million euros. “It went so well back then that I didn’t finish my studies,” says Siffrin.

The effort involved in registering an Internet address ranges from “fully automated” to “can only be done manually,” explains Siffrin. For example, while addresses ending in .de or .com are completely managed by the Key-Systems computers, this is not possible in more exotic countries like Cambodia.

According to the St. Ingbert company, it currently manages more than four million Internet addresses for over 100,000 customers. The company is also active for numerous major customers who are active in multiple countries. “We are a kind of real estate manager on the Internet,” says Siffrin. If, for example, a major brand wants to register an Internet address, then it should also apply to several countries at the same time. For example, an international company like Daimler will not want a regional dealer in Greenland to use to advertise its goods. “We then check whether the addresses are free or whether the domain is being offered for sale by the owner.

But the registration of Internet addresses has long since been just one of the business areas of the Saarland-based company. Among other things, it also offers a data centre where customers can store their own servers or rent server space. And it is also active as a virtual security service. “In a way, we work as security providers for the domains, becoming a kind of Fort-Knox for domain names, so to speak. The company then continuously checks whether addresses are being misused for fraudulent activities.

The lion’s share of the 100 or so employees are developers and support staff. “We need developers all the time. We would even hire them if there were no vacancies.” The company has been growing for years. Even now, the office building in St. Ingbert’s industrial area Drahtwerk-Nord is bursting at the seams. “But we always have the option of adding another floor,” says Siffrin.

But Key-Systems is not only growing in Saarland. The group of companies has also been expanding internationally for years. The last major merger was in August with the listed British CentralNic Group. “We complement each other perfectly. Because CentralNic is active in markets in which we are not yet actively represented.” For example, CentralNic is also represented in Australia and thus in a different time zone. “This makes extended support possible.” And in German, too, if desired. The company’s headquarters in New Zealand is Napier, which boasts a diverse multi-cultural population, ideal as people speaking many different languages live there.

Key-Systems manages .saarland addresses
For Internet addresses ending in .saarland, Key-Systems is the responsible registry. All Internet addresses ending in .saarland are registered and managed in St. Ingbert. Key-Systems was significantly involved in the introduction of the regional extension and has been a 100 percent owner of dotSaarland GmbH since last year. Saarland addresses are generally well received, says Key-Systems managing director Alexander Siffrin. About 4000 pages would use the extension.

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