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Domain names

Policy 501


Top-level domain name

  • All official UM Web sites must use a standard top-level domain name.

  • Only centrally managed, campus- or enterprise-wide facilities may use institutional top-level domain names (e.g., 'umt.edu') to identify associated network facilities.

Sub-domain names

  • Sub-domains names will be used to identify network resources, facilities, and activities associated with campus "entities" (for example, a department or other organizational unit of the campus).

  • One and only one sub-domain name that is unique at the campus level will be assigned to and used by each entity on that campus to identify that entity's network activities. Appropriate IT staff will work with campus users to determine exactly what constitutes an entity that qualifies for a sub-domain name, what sub-domain name to use, and how to implement a transition if changes are required in the current naming scheme.

Non-UM domain names

  • UM should generally not host other non-UM educational domains, nor should it host commercial (".com"), network service (".net"), or other newly defined domain types. Exceptions may be made for an organization with direct ties to the University.

  • UM may agree to host special non-profit (".org" or dot-org) domains, but only if the parent organization of the dot-org domain has a specific connection to the University and the University feels there is a mutually beneficial result obtained from the hosting.

  • Any non-UM domain Web site must have prior approval from the IT office before establishing the site or domain name.


Discussion

Traditionally it has been technically feasible to attach a network entity to the UM network, provide it with a non-UM domain name like "abc.org", "rst.net", or "xyz.com", and have that domain recognized by the external world (note: historically sites used one of four possible suffixes to indicate site type: ".edu" for educational entities, ".org" for non-profits, ".net" for network service providers, and ".com" for other commercial entities). Essentially what UM is doing in such a case is hosting a domain on its network that has an unspecified connection to UM. This kind of hosting originated in a time when the Internet was new and commercial hosting sites were hard to find. Commercial hosting services are abundant and UM has legal obligations to not use state resources to be used for non-UM activities and to avoid competition with private sector service providers. Thus, except in very special circumstances where the entity in question really is a part of UM, these hosting relationships should be terminated as quickly as possible, with the operators of the non-UM domains directed to appropriate external providers. The principles and process outlined above outline the details of the special circumstances under which UM will continue existing or initiate new hosting arrangements. All current ad hoc hosting arrangements are expected to be either formalized through this process or terminated.

University-affiliated but private organizations which want a Web presence for publicity or commercial purposes (e.g., athletic organizations, box offices, book stores) should generally arrange private hosting to avoid constraints on use of state resources and competition with private providers. However, as noted above, special arrangements can be made to host such entities on the UM network, providing care is taken to conform with state law and avoid any appearance of impropriety, and providing that the arrangement is approved by the UM President.

The situation with non-profit ".org" sites is not quite so clear cut, because such a site could represent an entity with an explicit UM connection, where UM hosting provides mutual benefit. Examples include educational consortia, sites designed for public dissemination of information derived at UM, and grant sponsored non-profit activities. However, even in these cases the details of the hosting arrangement, including the financial implications, need to be formalized in an official agreement.


Procedures


Top-level domain names

  • This policy is essentially already in effect. However, there is some interest in changing from the current "umt.edu" to "umontana.edu", which UM-M has also registered. UM-M needs to decide whether to make this switch. If so, UM-M can continue to use "umt.edu" as an alternative for a transition period, but eventually they will need to settle on one and only one ".edu"


    Also, in order to preserve their "market niche" in the Internet world and keep options open for other types of activities and development, UM may also want to identify and register related names with other suffixes, e.g., "umontana.com." In most cases the idea is to prevent use of these similar names by non-UM entities, but there may be some cases where the University actually uses these names for "affiliated" activities - see the section of this policy on non-UM domain names. Except for special uses determined by the campus, campus activity should be routed through the standard campus ".edu" domain name.

Subdomain names

  • This represents formalization of what has been "recommended practice" for some time, but would require naming changes in some units. Currently some entities use a number of different sub-domain names to distinguish different elements within that unit. The result is that the number of sub-domains is significantly larger than the number of clearly identifiable UM entities, and it is often difficult to track the specific campus connection of a particular sub-domain. For example, the Computer Science Department at UM-M uses the sub-domain name "cs", i.e., giving its complete name as "cs.umt.edu". The Department could name elements associated with its internal labs, graduate program, etc. those entities within its "cs" sub-domain (e.g., "cs.umt.edu/fordlab", "cs.umt.edu/gradpgm", "labsrvr.cs.umt.edu") or it could ask to use additional sub-domain names for those entities (e.g., "fordlab.umt.edu", "gradpgm.umt.edu", "labsrvr.umt.edu"). The former naming clearly identifies Computer Science as the "parent" for these entities, whereas the latter does not. This policy establishes the former approach as the norm, but leaves open the option for a unit to request use of additional special sub-domain names. Note that in some special cases a ".org" domain may be the best solution - see section III on non-UM domain names for details.

Non-UM domain naming

  • Though it has been feasible and perhaps convenient to host sites with other (non-UM) domain names on the UM campuses, the Internet and Internet-related services have matured to the point where the University should generally host only University domains and related sites and services on its network, as summarized below.

    • Hosting principles

      1. UM should generally not host other non-UM educational domains (i.e., other ".edu"), nor should it host commercial (".com"), network service (".net"), or other newly defined domain types. Exceptions may be made for an organization with direct ties to the University. Such exceptions require special approval by the campus chief executive officer. Care should be exercised to avoid conflict with state law and/or the appearance of impropriety. To assure consistent name service administration, all exceptions should be reported to the UM-M IT Office.

      2. UM may agree to host special non-profit ".org" (dot-org) domains, but only if the parent organization of the dot-org domain has a specific connection to the University and the University feels there is a mutually beneficial result obtained from the hosting. Dot-org sites proposed for UM hosting should generally be restricted to those consistent with the original intent of the ".org" designation, i.e., for non-profit, non-commercial organizations and activities. In all cases the parent organization should have a clear and direct link to the University and its missions. Dot-org domains will not be hosted at UM merely as a matter of fiscal or personal convenience. To assure consistent name service administration, all approved dot-org hosting arrangements should be reported to the UM-M IT Office to assure UM-wide coordination.

      3. UM recognizes the basic rights of free speech, but is under no obligation to host dot-org sites to provide outlets for free speech. Thus it can and will refuse to host domains that contain material that is or could be detrimental to UM's image, reputation, or mission, and/or has no specific link to the missions (instruction, research, and public service) of the University.

      4. The University must assure that state resources are used effectively, so any hosting arrangement must assure that any service provided is paid for at prevailing market rates.

      5. A UM hosted dot-org domain should generally not contain or promote commercial activity, nor provide commercial services. Exceptions may be granted for activity related specifically to the University of Montana (e.g., registration in UM classes or sponsored activities). For other organizations, exceptions may be granted for basic "membership style" fund raising, but fund raising that goes beyond that into personal services, merchandising, and other such activities should be hosted on a separate commercial site. All exceptions must be approved in advance by the campus chief executive officer. Links to separate commercial sites are permitted, but should be clearly identified as such, e.g., "For information on such and such related commercial activity, see our separate commercial Web site <http: site-link >."

The formal process outlined below will be used to approve all non-UM domain hosting requests.

  •  Hosting decision procedure
    1. The applicant files a formal request identifying the purpose of the proposed domain. The request requires the applicant to agree in advance to conditions about the type of activity that can (and can not) be hosted on that domain, as well as to commit to pay all costs associated with servers/services, technical support, bandwidth, network operation, and network security.

    2. A designated campus official applies the hosting guidelines to make an initial YES/NO decision. If the proposed site is consistent with University principles, the official also estimates costs for the hosting, based on the sort of services required. The decision and costs (where applicable) are reported in writing to the applicant, appropriate campus oversight committees, and the campus technology officer. Any disputes on the decision are resolved by along the same chain, ultimately leading to the campus chief executive officer.

    3. If the applicant agrees to the conditions and the costs, a formal "Memo of Understanding" is executed between the applicant and the University outlining the purpose of the domain, the conditions that govern its use, and the costs. An arrangement is made to transfer annual fiscal year costs, in advance, to a fund administered by the campus IT Office for the maintenance and enhancement of network infrastructure.

    4. Arrangements are made to "resolve" references to the ".org" domain name (i.e., through network DNS services), and the site goes live on the Internet.

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