skip to content

IT Help and Support

University Information Services
 

The Managed Zone Service (MZS) is being shut down, and its data migrated to a commercial provider, Mythic Beasts. This will be done without interrupting service to end users, although customers in institutions will need to do some work to retain management access to their zones and handle future renewal payments.

Background 

The Managed Zone Service (MZS) was set up many years ago by UIS to provide a service for institutions to purchase external internet Domain Name Service (DNS) domains (outside cam.ac.uk) and offer a federated interface to allow the DNS data to be managed. 

Since the service was started, the commercial offerings in this area have made this a commodity service, often surpassing UIS offerings in terms of cost, user interface and capabilities. The current MZS interface and backend run on top of the Managed Web Service (MWS) which is being shut down at the end of October 2021. The decision has been taken not to redevelop the service and, instead, migrate it over to a commercial provider and then shut it down. 

Process 

UIS has developed tools to migrate existing MZS data over to the Mythic Beasts primary DNS service (https://www.mythic-beasts.com/domains). Beginning in mid-September 2021, it will carry out this migration automatically. 

Initially, the data will be migrated into a UIS account, which will ensure continuity of service, in terms of DNS lookups. Customers of the MZS will need to set up their own Mythic Beasts account for UIS to transfer the zones(s) to, leaving customers to manage them directly themselves. 

The Mythic Beasts service offers a far more modern and powerful web interface to manage zone data, including a comprehensive API to enable programmatic changes. 

Once a zone is migrated, the customer will no longer be able to manage it in the legacy MZS interface (https://www.mzs.dns.cam.ac.uk), until they have set up the new account and the zone transferred to it. The zone will continue to provide client lookups through this process, however, so will continue to work from a client availability perspective. 

Mythic Beasts were selected for this service as UIS already use them to manage the registration of MZS zones and so there will be no need to transfer the zones to a separate registrar, just move the DNS data itself. Customers can choose to move them to an alternative provider, if they wish, more information on this is given below. 

How we will contact MZS customers 

UIS will use the usernames registered in the MZS interface to contact the owners of MZS zones. Customers should ensure that they are monitoring those addresses, add other users, in advance of the migration, or forward messages on to the appropriate technical contact when they arrive. 

Queries

If you have any queries please contact mzs-support@uis.cam.ac.uk 

 

FAQs 

What do I need to do right now? 

If you are happy with your zone being migrated to Mythic Beasts, you don't need to do anything right now. It is, however, recommended that you set up your Mythic Beasts account, ready to receive the zone, once it has been migrated. If you already have a Mythic Beasts account for web or other services, this account can also be used for your DNS domains. 

Please do NOT, however, add the domain to your Mythic Beasts account as a "third party domain" as this will break the migration process and make things considerably more difficult for both you and us, as well as likely result in an interruption in service. After the domain has been transferred to your account, following the initial migration, you will have full control over it. 

It should be noted that accounts in Mythic Beasts use the login email as a contact address and it is strongly recommended that a group or role email is used, as opposed to that of a specific person, and the login details for that safely recorded, to avoid a domain becoming "orphaned" if that specific individual leaves. 

If you wish to move the domain to a provider other than Mythic Beasts, you should contact us as soon as possible: please see the information below about this. 

How will I know when my account is due to be migrated? 

We will contact customers a week or two before their zones are due to be migrated. This will give them a rough window of time (of a few days) for this to happen and when the legacy MZS interface will be locked out. 

During the migration, it will be not typically be possible to make changes to zone data, so please ensure you have completed any required changes before the migration window. If this causes any problems, please let us know as soon as possible. 

What information do you need to know? 

When we have contacted you that your zone is to be migrated, please send your Mythic Beasts customer ID (login email and customer number: both displayed in the top right corner of the Mythic Beasts website, when you have signed in) to us, so we transfer it to you. Please ensure the zone name(s) are in the Subject line of your email. 

Note that whilst access to zones in the MZS are granted to individual lists of users, per zone, Mythic Beasts assign a domain to a single account. If a group has a number of zones, it typically makes sense to assign them to a single Mythic Beasts account. 

What happens if I don't do anything? 

We will still migrate your zone to Mythic Beasts but leave it assigned to the UIS's account. The zone will continue to work, in terms of client reachability, but you'll no longer have access to it, to update records. UIS cannot process manual changes on behalf of customers, except in an emergency. 

There will also be a problem later, when the zone is due to be renewed (see next). 

What happens to billing, in future? 

When the zone is due for renewal, you do this directly yourself, with Mythic Beasts. Mythic Beasts will email the new account to alert them that renewal is due, in advance of this. Zones can also be set to auto-renew. 

Mythic Beasts accept a variety of payment methods, including the ability to raise an invoice via email, which can be passed to your institutional finance team to process through CUFS. 

As the zone will then become "yours", UIS will not chase you about this and it is your responsibility to ensure that the zone is renewed, if you wish to keep it. 

If we have not managed to transfer the zone to you, when the renewal date approaches, we will attempt to contact you but we will not process renewal on your behalf: it will need to be transferred to you to handle the payment of any fees due. If we cannot do this, the zone will expire. 

This situation does not apply to .ac.uk domains: those do not typically incur an annual charge. The customer will still need to manage the DNS data and UIS will need to remain the contact point for Jisc, but will maintain a contact email address for the zone; preferably a role address. 

What happens to the expiry date of the domains? 

This will likely not change, although some domains may need to be renewed as part of the migration process, even if they are not due. If so, these may gain additional time before renewal is due. 

What is the cost of the Mythic Beasts service? 

Mythic Beasts charges vary per containing domain and are listed here: https://www.mythic-beasts.com/domains— these are typically much cheaper than the MZS prices, as they do not include a UIS staff time element. 

What happens to the fee I have already paid for the MZS? 

The fee paid will cover the remainder of the registration period. Part of the cost of the MZS is to pay for staff time to manage the service and handle the administration. These funds will be used to cover the cost of the migration. 

Sometimes, the period paid for the MZS does not cover the existing registration (for example, some domains are only available for one year registrations, so there may be one or more years for the five years paid-for remaining). In this case, UIS will refund the renewal costs for the remaining paid period, as part of the transfer, for the customer to use to renew the domain. 

Can I migrate to a provider other than Mythic Beasts? 

Yes, you are free to have the zone transferred to another DNS provider. Please contact us with details of the alternative provider and your account information and when you would like the transfer to take place. You should do this as soon as possible as there may be additional delays or costs if the domain is migrated twice. 

We cannot, however, migrate the zone data for you and you will need to do this yourself, as well as ensure there is not disruption to service, if this is important.

If the new provider requires payment to carry out the transfer, this is the responsibility of the customer. It may be preferable to delay the transfer elsewhere, to when the next renewal is due. 

Are there any other options? 

An update of the main University IP Register service is currently being worked on. It is possible that the updated service will allow external domains to be added into it and managed as part of an institution's University DNS allocation, avoiding the need to do this through a separate Mythic Beasts account. 

This development cannot be guaranteed in terms of possibility nor timescale, however, and zones will at least need to be migrated to Mythic Beasts before the end of October 2021. If a domain has some years to run before the next renewal is due, the transfer to a customer Mythic Beasts account could be deferred until closer to then, if no access to update records is required. 

Is there any orphaned domain "rescue" process? 

Once transferred to a customer Mythic Beasts account, UIS will no longer have access to it. If the staff who have access to a particular Mythic Beasts account are no longer available, the customer will need to go through a rescue process with Mythic Beasts or the relevant registrar, to regain control. 

Mythic Beasts do provide a facility to grant full access to a particular account to another Mythic Beasts account (https://www.mythic-beasts.com/customer/account-users). This feature can be used to add UIS as a safety-net by adding hostmaster@cam.ac.uk. Customers must also be comfortable that UIS has full access to their account, including any virtual servers or websites, so this is probably not suitable for accounts with facilities other than DNS enabled.

If this feature is used, UIS will not handle billing or other general tasks, except recovering access to the domain to transfer it elsewhere (including another Mythic Beasts account). UIS will, however, use it to manage records for other services requested via UIS (for example email) — see next. 

Can UIS make changes on my behalf to enable other services requiring DNS changes? 

If hostmaster@cam.ac.uk is added as another account user (see above), the UIS Hostmaster team will also be able to coordinate internal processes to (for example) add TXT or MX records to enable mail services provided by other teams in UIS. 

The alternative is the other UIS team will send details of the required records directly to the you to add. 

I don't want to manually manage by DNS — will you do it for me? 

We will not typically manage the DNS information on behalf of customers: the Managed Zone Service (MZS) delegated this control to customers to do themselves and the Mythic Beasts interface offers the same, and more, functionality. 

There are, however, some institutions where UIS provides general IT support (for example, the Unified Administration Service [UAS] departments). It this case, there will be no local IT support to manage the DNS, and we will continue to do this. 

What will happen to DNSSEC? 

The MZS typically has DNSSEC (DNS SECurity) enabled for most zones: this validates DNS information about the zones to help precent spoofed information being returned. 

The Mythic Beasts service supports DNSSEC but it is impossible to migrate the keys used on the MZS. Instead, DNSSEC will be disabled, a few days before the zone is due to be migrated, then re-enabled, after the migration but before the zone is transferred to the customer account and does not require any further management. 

This is not expected to cause any trouble but, if there are potential problems, please contact the UIS Service Desk.

UIS Service Desk

UIS Service Status

Phone padded  Service status line: (01223 7)67999
Website  Sign up for SMS/email status alerts
Website  Read major IT incident reports

UIS bITe-size bulletin

A regular newsletter aimed at the University's IT community, highlighting service and project news from UIS.

Sign up >

Latest news

University Wireless Service maintenance: Tuesday 21 September, 08:00–09:00

16 September 2021

The University Wireless Service will be undergoing essential maintenance between 08:00 and 09.00 on Tuesday 21 September while we apply a security software patch. This is a security update to ClearPass, which provides Wireless Service network access control. We're not expecting any disruption to service, but it should be...

Mailing list migrations from Mailman to Sympa

31 August 2021

We intend to migrate all remaining lists associated with colleges from Mailman to Sympa during the week commencing 13 September 2020. The current total is 1,567. How this will affect users of the mailing list management service Most mailing list subscribers shouldn't notice any difference. During the switchover, there will...

Managed Zone Service closedown and migration to Mythic Beasts

24 August 2021

The Managed Zone Service (MZS) is being shut down, and its data content migrated to a commercial provider, Mythic Beasts. There will be no interruption to the service, but MZS users in institutions will need to make arrangements to retain management access to their zones. What is changing? UIS set up the MZS many years ago...