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What naming scheme do you use for your servers?

 

We are currently looking at changing the naming scheme we use for servers.  Currently we use color names for servers but that list is beginning to run out of single word, easy to spell names. 

 

In ancient history here there was a decision to follow the advice in RFC 1178 in choosing names for our servers:   http://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc1178

 

Here are the main bullet points from that article:

·         Don't overload other terms already in common use.

·         Don't choose a name after a project unique to that machine.·         Don't use your own name.·         Don't use long names.·         Avoid alternate spellings.·         Avoid domain names.·         Avoid domain-like names.·         Don't use antagonistic or otherwise embarrassing names.·         Don't use digits at the beginning of the name.·         Don't use non-alphanumeric characters in a name.·         Don't expect case to be preserved.·         Use words/names that are rarely used.·         Use theme names.·         Use real words.·         Don't worry about reusing someone else's hostname.·         There is always room for an exception. 

 

Andy Poirier

Network Administrator

Information Technology

 

North Central University

910 Elliot Ave,

Minneapolis, MN  55404

Direct: 612.343.4758 | Fax: 612.343.8064

www.northcentral.edu

 

 

 
********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

Comments

We have used a number of different schemes, with similar servers getting names from a theme
For instance,

Characters from literature/film
 dwarves from Disney movies
   dopey, sleepy, ...
 characters from the hobbit
   fili, kili, bofur, bombur...
 characters from the Chronicles of Narnia
  aslan, susan, edmund, lucy...
 characters from the Lord of the Rings
   eowyn, arwen, gandalf, ...
Airplane names
  pulsar, chief, champ, hercules, ...
Counties in Ireland 
  meath, louth, ...
  (although 'down' ended up being confusing... "down is up", or "down is down" "our mail server is down", etc , and rosscommon was too long)
Kinds of nuts
  pecan, almond, filbert, coco, walnut ...


In addition to the unique name, we supply DNS 'cname' aliases that represent their function:  pdc, bdc, smtp, mail, myfiles, ldap, and so forth.  These DNS names will become attached to a unique name until that server is retired, and then will be pointed to a different server but remain the name by which the service is known in perpetuity.

John Rodkey
Director of Servers and Networks
Westmont College


At my old job, we use to name our servers after Gilligan's island. 

Skipper
Shipwreck
Professor
Minnow
Castaway
Gilligan
Maryann 
etc... 



--

Jeremy L. Gibbs
Systems Administrator / Network Engineer
Utica College IITS

T: (315) 223-2383
F: (315) 792-3814


We use a naming convention.  Functional, logical, and descriptive.

No more than 12 characters.

2 letter state
2 letter city
4 letter descriptive
2 digit incremental

Like this:

CODVDCTL01

Colorado, Denver, Domain Controller, number 1.

Then we might have CASFMAIL02

California, San Francisco, Mail server, number 2.

You get the idea.

Some examples of descriptions are:

Exch, ADFS, FILE, JICS, BOOK, CARD, HVAC, VSPH, HYPE, CTRX, BACK, HELP...

I'm honestly a little surprised that organizations use server names that are not part of a legitimate standard of some sort.

I started this standard at our school 9 years ago when I was hired.  Although some times we struggle a little to find a way to describe a server in 4 characters, the standard is important to me and I rarely forget what a server is named or what it is for.

Plus, it makes it great for reporting, searching, listing, and you can produce a network drawing for your management without being embarrassed by your ultra geeky server names that NONE of them will appreciate.

You can always add DNS names later if you want to be able to have some creativity with accessing on the LAN.


On Aug 24, 2013, at 11:30 AM, "Jeremy Gibbs" <jlgibbs@UTICA.EDU> wrote:

At my old job, we use to name our servers after Gilligan's island. 

Skipper
Shipwreck
Professor
Minnow
Castaway
Gilligan
Maryann 
etc... 



--

Jeremy L. Gibbs
Systems Administrator / Network Engineer
Utica College IITS

T: (315) 223-2383
F: (315) 792-3814


Andy,

I had many stages, and my servers always followed me :P.

Around 1999/2000 I was on my Star Wars stage (influenced by my boss, I guess): Tatooine, Chewbacca, DarthVader, DarthMaul, Palpatine, Leia, Obiwan ...

After Star Wars, I entered Civilian Airjets stage: B7271, B7272, B727F, B7372, B7373, B7672, B7772, B777F, TU154, TU134, AN225, IL62, IL78, A310, A300 ....

Now, I think I'm going older (and loosing my creativity :P). My servers are called pizzaboxNN (pizzabox01, pizzabox02, pizzabox03....) and my storages are called brickNN (brick01, brick02, brick03).

Best Regards,


Alexandre

-- Alexandre Bastos Núcleo de Aplicação em TI - NATI Fundação Edson Queiroz Universidade de Fortaleza Fone: (85) 3477.3152

RoleApp-N-Test

 

8 Character server application definitions (Web, Mail, SQL, CRMSQL/CRMDB, ect)

1 Character node number  (example: CAS-1, CAS-2)

4 Character optional function denomination TEST, DEV, DR

 

Within DNS C-Name or A-Record entries for applications would be entered so for example users would connect to OWA.uwgb.edu instead of CAS-1.uwgb.edu which also allows for easy client transition as systems are replaced on the backend.

 

 

General Guidelines on naming

Test – Temporary build environments

Dev – Applications with active programming development

DR – Disaster Recovery Site specific

 

 

 

Patrick Goggins

Senior Systems Administrator

University of Wisconsin - Green Bay

 

 

 

 

We started colors, then phased in names of prominent individuals in our town's history.  My boss finally got tired of trying to remember which server what data was on and how to spell them (names such as Studebaker, Biederwolf, Rodeheaver, Carmichael and Hackett) so we have started to switch to more descriptive names.  For example SCCM-01 (System Center Configuration Manager). 


Jake Barros  |  Network Administrator  |  Office of Information Technology
Grace College and Seminary  |  Winona Lake, IN  |  574.372.5100 x6178


I had a tech one time that was brought in to service a group of “sky watchers” (trackers of satellites, planets, etc…..long story….anyway….) and all their servers were named after planets and other “space-related” names.  The tech that we brought in had his own naming convention, and 3 days later I get a call from the Sr. Scientist on the project…..turns out, the tech had *renamed* all of their servers to books of the Bible.  Personal preferences, (and the pain of changing scripts, programs, etc, aside) – try dealing with servers named “Deuteronomy” or “Leviticus”…..or, yes, “Ecclesiastes”……try keeping those straight in your DNS tables…..;-)  There was actually some reasoning on his part – he thought “…uncommon names are a security measure…”, or something to that effect…..

 

We changed the names back – the science types were happier…..

 

M

 

From: The EDUCAUSE Network Management Constituent Group Listserv [mailto:NETMAN@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU] On Behalf Of Barros, Jacob
Sent: Monday, August 26, 2013 7:28 AM
To: NETMAN@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU
Subject: Re: [NETMAN] Server naming scheme

 

We started colors, then phased in names of prominent individuals in our town's history.  My boss finally got tired of trying to remember which server what data was on and how to spell them (names such as Studebaker, Biederwolf, Rodeheaver, Carmichael and Hackett) so we have started to switch to more descriptive names.  For example SCCM-01 (System Center Configuration Manager). 


 

Jake Barros  |  Network Administrator  |  Office of Information Technology

Grace College and Seminary  |  Winona Lake, IN  |  574.372.5100 x6178

 

Ah, I love this topic. Back in "the old days," we used to have all sorts of naming conventions for all sorts of things. End user servicing mail servers were named after popular (at least with the admins) restaurants around campus - merle, lulu, casbah, hecky, pineyard, etc. We also had an admin who is a fan of The Who, so some back end email servers got names like drjimmy. Nowadays there's a much more systematic and less entertaining naming scheme. :) For networking equipment, we generally have names that denote location and equipment type for things like switches and routers, but sometimes more niche equipment used to get more interesting names. Back when we still ran modem pools, all of the terminal servers first started out with names whose origins/systems are lost to memory (lucky, aragorn,.....heck, now I've even forgotten the names themselves), but then we "standardized" on names of nuts because they were all in the nuts.nwu.edu subdomain (NUTS=Northwestern University Terminal Services). So we had all sorts of nut names, including peanut even though those aren't technically nuts. dika, brazil, macadamia, filbert, coconut, pili, legume, quandong, areca, persimmon, hican, pistachio, kola.....then we had a terminal server that serviced a number of different customer bases, so that obviously got named "mixed". A short-term modem pool (15 minute timeout) got named "beer," but that was pretty much the last new terminal server. The next names up were "left" and "right," but I'm pretty sure those would have gotten nixed by management. -- Julian Y. Koh Acting Associate Director, Telecommunications and Network Services Northwestern University Information Technology (NUIT) 2001 Sheridan Road #G-166 Evanston, IL 60208 847-467-5780 NUIT Web Site: PGP Public Key: ********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.
For network devices, we have standardized on the following
<2 letter building code>-<floor><tr letter>-<device category><device type><digit>
For instance,
VL-1A-NSWITCH2

VL-1A is the TR (telecommunication room) designation.  In this case, the first TR on floor 1 of Voskuyl Library (VL) .
For the device category, N designates network device, P for pathway
Device type could be SWITCH, ROUTER, FIREWALL, SERVER, RACK, and we have others for fiber and copper patch panels which I don't recall at the moment.
We don't in practice use the SERVER device type in our naming, but if we were being totally consistent, that would be its primary/canonical name.  

John



Brilliant!
I had a series of computers named after extinct societies... had severe pushback from a faculty member who declared that our predominantly white college had enough race relationship problems without naming a server 'saxon'.  It was duly renamed...  I like the idea of constellations and stars, though.

John


Message from jemurray@zweck.net

We try to find clever names for our servers.   We evaluate the function of the server then try to determine what name would best fit.   For example, mail servers mcfeely and zippy (a mailman and postal stamp mascot), lead (heavy disk storage server so a heavy element), prism (web hosting, prism breaks up single beam into multiple streams (ie virtual hosting)), wrangler (first solaris container VM system, someone had to wrangle up all those containers), etc....   

Depending on the server, we will then create CNAMES for the actual function, for example radius01, radius02, etc...  



For network gear we don't get nearly as creative.

xx-yyyy-zzzz-##

xx = function such as CD customer distribution, CN customer network, core, asa, etc....
yyyy = building code
zzzz = closet/room number
## = unique number




 


You should cross-post this to the security group to see what their opinions are..

 

Personally, I like to keep names very generic, with a number at the end (btw, I disagree with the bullet point of no non-alphanumerics .. a dash is critical for readability).  In this virtualized world, we are spinning up servers very fast and frequent.  From a security perspective, I would avoid describing the contents of the server too much in the name.

 

-Brian

 

Is naming the server something descriptive to its use a security vulnerability?  Or are you just saying don’t name it

 

Suse11SP3-HTTP-02

 

 

 

It seems to me that with nmap and other tools available to pretty much anyone, the naming of a server is pretty much irrelevant in terms of security.  Most scanning of vulnerabilities is done by bots anyway, and they don't care what the name is.

John


Message from dannyeaton@rice.edu

For us, for networking devices, we do a three letter code for building name, then room number, then device type, then chassis number, separated by hyphens. IE: lib-169-a-1 - is in the library, room 169, it's an access chassis (d = l3 distribution, p = policy enforcement, w = wireless distribution, etc.), and it's switch 1 in the that IDR. We can dispatch FE&P for power quickly, or find the closet in the event of a failure for those that don't work in the closets on a daily basis. -----Original Message----- From: The EDUCAUSE Network Management Constituent Group Listserv [mailto:NETMAN@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU] On Behalf Of Chris Fabri Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2013 11:37 AM To: NETMAN@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU Subject: Re: [NETMAN] Server naming scheme

That is what I was thinking, that most people (except maybe local employees or students) wouldn’t care what the name was, or even see it at all.

 

From: The EDUCAUSE Network Management Constituent Group Listserv [mailto:NETMAN@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU] On Behalf Of John Rodkey
Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2013 11:35 AM
To: NETMAN@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU
Subject: Re: [NETMAN] Server naming scheme

 

It seems to me that with nmap and other tools available to pretty much anyone, the naming of a server is pretty much irrelevant in terms of security.  Most scanning of vulnerabilities is done by bots anyway, and they don't care what the name is.

John

 

My thoughts exactly. The benefits of using a methodical naming scheme for monitoring alerts, documentation and just general communication far outweigh any security by obscurity that could easily be overcome by a 12 year old running nmap.

 

Pete Morrissey

 

From: The EDUCAUSE Network Management Constituent Group Listserv [mailto:NETMAN@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU] On Behalf Of John Rodkey
Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2013 12:35 PM
To: NETMAN@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU
Subject: Re: [NETMAN] Server naming scheme

 

It seems to me that with nmap and other tools available to pretty much anyone, the naming of a server is pretty much irrelevant in terms of security.  Most scanning of vulnerabilities is done by bots anyway, and they don't care what the name is.

John

 

I disagree.  A good firewall and policies will keep items that shouldn’t be known hidden.  Obviously, a web server is meant to be accessed directly and by the public, so its name is moot.  But putting, for example, the OS and application in the name of the server allows a reverse lookup to give a lot of information.  We only need to look at the NSA’s activities to understand that metadata is as dangerous and anything else.

 

-Brian

 

From: The EDUCAUSE Network Management Constituent Group Listserv [mailto:NETMAN@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU] On Behalf Of Peter P Morrissey
Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2013 1:16 PM
To: NETMAN@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU
Subject: Re: [NETMAN] Server naming scheme

 

My thoughts exactly. The benefits of using a methodical naming scheme for monitoring alerts, documentation and just general communication far outweigh any security by obscurity that could easily be overcome by a 12 year old running nmap.

 

Pete Morrissey

 

From: The EDUCAUSE Network Management Constituent Group Listserv [mailto:NETMAN@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU] On Behalf Of John Rodkey
Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2013 12:35 PM
To: NETMAN@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU
Subject: Re: [NETMAN] Server naming scheme

 

It seems to me that with nmap and other tools available to pretty much anyone, the naming of a server is pretty much irrelevant in terms of security.  Most scanning of vulnerabilities is done by bots anyway, and they don't care what the name is.

John

 

I would agree that putting the OS & version is not necessary and may be supplying more info than nmap could sniff out, but having the function info available to those who maintain the systems and to some degree the end user reduces confusion and possible outages as a the new admin changes the firewall on blargh-85xh_ to close the pesky dns port only to find out that blargh-85xh was your primary outward-facing DNS server.


..which is good until they change the room numbers. We used this same scheme for network gear (not servers) for years. .. and then our Facilities people went on a renumbering binge. Now, our systems with names showing location as, e.g, room 209 are now in room 210. As a result, we retooled the naming to be --# (e.g sw-bdmdf-1). If the building has more than 1 wiring closet, that middle section remains generic as MDF, IDF1, IDF2 etc. The network guys just need to know where each room is. For the people who are virtualized (I don't run our data center, so I haven't thought much about this), is there a value to tying the names of a VM to the VS, the way many of us are tying servers/equipment to rooms? Or does that fall apart because of technologies like vmotion? -Brian -----Original Message----- From: The EDUCAUSE Network Management Constituent Group Listserv [mailto:NETMAN@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU] On Behalf Of Danny Eaton Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2013 12:43 PM To: NETMAN@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU Subject: Re: [NETMAN] Server naming scheme For us, for networking devices, we do a three letter code for building name, then room number, then device type, then chassis number, separated by hyphens. IE: lib-169-a-1 - is in the library, room 169, it's an access chassis (d = l3 distribution, p = policy enforcement, w = wireless distribution, etc.), and it's switch 1 in the that IDR. We can dispatch FE&P for power quickly, or find the closet in the event of a failure for those that don't work in the closets on a daily basis. -----Original Message----- From: The EDUCAUSE Network Management Constituent Group Listserv [mailto:NETMAN@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU] On Behalf Of Chris Fabri Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2013 11:37 AM To: NETMAN@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU Subject: Re: [NETMAN] Server naming scheme
We use a very similar scheme for our networking gear, at Mason. We have a standard set of four-character building codes, and rather than using room numbers we designate telecom rooms as A, B, C, or D with some guidelines as to where to start. We also use a two-character standard designator for equipment type, e.g.: AQUIA-01-A-SW02 <= second switch or stack in the "A" TR of Aquia Bldg HAZL-04-A-TS01 <= NTP server ("TS") in 4th floor A TR of Hazel Hall This system has worked out well for keeping track of our 500+ devices/stacks. Randy ________________________________________ From: The EDUCAUSE Network Management Constituent Group Listserv [NETMAN@listserv.educause.edu] on behalf of Brian Helman [bhelman@SALEMSTATE.EDU] Sent: Friday, August 30, 2013 10:49 AM To: NETMAN@listserv.educause.edu Subject: Re: [NETMAN] Server naming scheme ..which is good until they change the room numbers. We used this same scheme for network gear (not servers) for years. .. and then our Facilities people went on a renumbering binge. Now, our systems with names showing location as, e.g, room 209 are now in room 210. As a result, we retooled the naming to be --# (e.g sw-bdmdf-1). If the building has more than 1 wiring closet, that middle section remains generic as MDF, IDF1, IDF2 etc. The network guys just need to know where each room is. For the people who are virtualized (I don't run our data center, so I haven't thought much about this), is there a value to tying the names of a VM to the VS, the way many of us are tying servers/equipment to rooms? Or does that fall apart because of technologies like vmotion? -Brian -----Original Message----- From: The EDUCAUSE Network Management Constituent Group Listserv [mailto:NETMAN@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU] On Behalf Of Danny Eaton Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2013 12:43 PM To: NETMAN@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU Subject: Re: [NETMAN] Server naming scheme For us, for networking devices, we do a three letter code for building name, then room number, then device type, then chassis number, separated by hyphens. IE: lib-169-a-1 - is in the library, room 169, it's an access chassis (d = l3 distribution, p = policy enforcement, w = wireless distribution, etc.), and it's switch 1 in the that IDR. We can dispatch FE&P for power quickly, or find the closet in the event of a failure for those that don't work in the closets on a daily basis. -----Original Message----- From: The EDUCAUSE Network Management Constituent Group Listserv [mailto:NETMAN@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU] On Behalf Of Chris Fabri Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2013 11:37 AM To: NETMAN@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU Subject: Re: [NETMAN] Server naming scheme
I've had the room re-numbering issues in the past and have seen two re-naming methods around this. The first Brian had already mentioned and second was Base(uplink) and #stfl/#ndfl, a direction N/E/S/W, and device # at location. Geographic identification in this way offered quicker learning of closet locations for student workers. ->-<(optional) relative location of closet within floor>- UNIO-3rdfl-N-13 With virtualization it all depends on where you are looking and which vendor implementation is involved. With VMware we are using a single large vDS switch across the cluster, Port Groups are denominated by vlan# predominately, but beyond that haven't had a need for anything more granular. Traditional port/vlan mappings are kept but at the physical host level. Each VM has the ability to vMotion between hosts so you never know for sure which host a given system is running on (unless you have DRS rules that say otherwise). ~Patrick -----Original Message----- From: The EDUCAUSE Network Management Constituent Group Listserv [mailto:NETMAN@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU] On Behalf Of Brian Helman Sent: Friday, August 30, 2013 9:49 AM To: NETMAN@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU Subject: Re: [NETMAN] Server naming scheme ..which is good until they change the room numbers. We used this same scheme for network gear (not servers) for years. .. and then our Facilities people went on a renumbering binge. Now, our systems with names showing location as, e.g, room 209 are now in room 210. As a result, we retooled the naming to be --# (e.g sw-bdmdf-1). If the building has more than 1 wiring closet, that middle section remains generic as MDF, IDF1, IDF2 etc. The network guys just need to know where each room is. For the people who are virtualized (I don't run our data center, so I haven't thought much about this), is there a value to tying the names of a VM to the VS, the way many of us are tying servers/equipment to rooms? Or does that fall apart because of technologies like vmotion? -Brian -----Original Message----- From: The EDUCAUSE Network Management Constituent Group Listserv [mailto:NETMAN@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU] On Behalf Of Danny Eaton Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2013 12:43 PM To: NETMAN@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU Subject: Re: [NETMAN] Server naming scheme For us, for networking devices, we do a three letter code for building name, then room number, then device type, then chassis number, separated by hyphens. IE: lib-169-a-1 - is in the library, room 169, it's an access chassis (d = l3 distribution, p = policy enforcement, w = wireless distribution, etc.), and it's switch 1 in the that IDR. We can dispatch FE&P for power quickly, or find the closet in the event of a failure for those that don't work in the closets on a daily basis. -----Original Message----- From: The EDUCAUSE Network Management Constituent Group Listserv [mailto:NETMAN@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU] On Behalf Of Chris Fabri Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2013 11:37 AM To: NETMAN@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU Subject: Re: [NETMAN] Server naming scheme
In my opinion, a descriptive name is more beneficial than anything else. I don't think that obscuring the name provides any security and it just causes confusion. We are in small environment so we basically call the servers

role1
role2
role3
etc
testrole1
testrole2
etc
devrole1
devrole2
etc

Where role is something short but meaningful such web, dhcp, smtp, cas, dc, sp, etc. We don't add a prefix to production systems but add one to anything else. This make it very clear when you are in a production system or not (there was more human error when we we used suffixes i.e. role1test ) . Someone else suggested adding location to the name but we only have two data centers and most things are virtualized so the location changes daily.

Rodolfo


Rodolfo Nunez
Director, IT Infrastructure
Barnard College, Columbia University


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