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Server Naming Conventions?

michael posted more than 12 years ago | from the never-run-out-of-tolkien-characters dept.

Hardware 961

Some random reader sent in: "Hi, I'm wondering what others out there use for server naming conventions. Our data centre right now houses a little under 200 servers, with plans to grow up to 4000 servers within the next five years. We'd like to pick something flexible and easy to manage with any tracking system. The servers we'll be implementing include SUN, HPUX, and AIX servers, in addition to existing Compaq and HP Intel servers, so we'll have to adhere to limitations placed on hostnames by manufacturers (ie HPUX lets you have an 8 character hostname)." We had a similar story a few years ago.

The reader continues:

"Here's a few ideas we've been tossing around, using Joe's Deli as an example:

- [four letter "name"][two letter service type][2 numbers] eg)
+ easy to determine the function and name
- hard to remember and pronounce, once you run out of four character servers, determining the name and function will be difficult. Joe's Deli and John's Delivery will have conflicting names

- [random combination of numbers and letters]
+ none really
- confusing.. really confusing. Can you imagine saying to someone "log on to alpha kappa one john omikron peter three delta?"

- [theme based name]
name servers based on a theme, eg Gundam
+ easily identifiable - all Gundam names belong to Joe's Deli, easy to pronounce and remember
- hard for a new tech or management (why would they need to know?) to associate to a server

"I'd like to know what others in the tech community use for server naming policies when planning large scale data centres. Also, with data centres located nationally, does the naming convention pose any problems? Thanks."

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oh yeah (-1)

returnofthe_spork (552824) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152782)

kool-aid man is in da house!

Re:oh yeah (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3152853)

He's not fat, he's jovial.

Re:oh yeah (-1)

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM (537317) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152891)

I call my server 'daddy' this way it's more enjoying when I hump my computer.

Seven Dwarfs? (3, Funny)

Yoda2 (522522) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152794)

You could name them after the seven dwarfs, but then I'm not sure what you'd do with the other 3997?

Re:Seven Dwarfs? (5, Funny)

graveytrain (218936) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152804)

Must be using windows calculator to get that remainder...

Re:Seven Dwarfs? (-1, Troll)

potaz (211754) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152855)

Ha ha ha: cause Windows is sucky.

Re:Seven Dwarfs? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152939)

nah, he's just using a p90

No... (1)

Penguinoflight (517245) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152862)

That's 3993! You must have learned math from Cowboyneal. 4000 - 7 = 3997, they should put that in the next poll.

Re:No... (1)

Yoda2 (522522) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152928)

Doh! That's what I get for trying to do math in binary.

Bad Yoda! Bad Yoda!

FIRST FISH! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3152796)


Sci-Fi (2, Insightful)

Oculus Habent (562837) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152797)

I recommend a Sci-Fi theme. It's simple at first (pick an author/story and stick with it for a while) and can expand (how many different sco-fi movies/books/etc are there?). Comparatively, other things tend to run out when you expand. Plus, with Sci-Fi you can do exciting things like "All web servers will have robot names from Asimov". Something to think about.

Re:Sci-Fi (2)

Hostile17 (415334) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152830)

"All web servers will have robot names from Asimov".

The place I use to work named all thier web servers after characters from the spiderman comic.

Naming Conventions. (5, Funny)

actappan (144541) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152798)

I've always like the idea of naming your systems after your exec staff. Makes rebuilding them kinda fun - and if they're windos boxen - you know that at some point you'll get to reformat your CEO.

Element names work well for a small low-order net (4, Insightful)

XaXXon (202882) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152803)

At my last job, we had ~40 machines in the low order of a class C. We named them after the elements in the periodic table. This gave us an easy naming scheme, and also served as a last-resort DNS system, as the last digit in the machine's IP number was the atomic weight of the element. It was pretty clever.

Re:Element names work well for a small low-order n (1)

XaXXon (202882) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152834)

They were all aliased to their abbreviations, as well, so you didn't have to type the whole name. which got kind of old on some of them.

Re:Element names work well for a small low-order n (1)

pyite (140350) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152886)

EXCELLENT IDEA! I think I might steal it. I started using the English spellings of Greek letters. Theres something funny about a box named mu.

Re:Element names work well for a small low-order n (-1)

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM (537317) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152942)

You have no sense of humour, please stay away from civilisation.

Just to annoy the RIAA (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3152805)

Name them after pop-stars. Hey, Britney is down again. N-Sync has crashed.

Re:Just to annoy the RIAA (3, Funny)

PugMajere (32183) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152831)

Don't you mean, "hey look, Britney is going down again."

Re:Just to annoy the RIAA (5, Funny)

gorehog (534288) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152833)

more fun is when segments crash..."Britney an J-Lo are going down on us again."

Phrasing is everything.

Space Ghost (1)

Creedo (548980) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152807)

We have taken up Space Ghost names at work. Used to be Pinky and the Brain.

alphanumeric dotted quad (5, Interesting)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152810)

Create namespaces for your servers and structure them as such. For example,,,,, etc.

This lets you distinguish between the server number in a rotation (the second element) and the specific service it is supporting (the first element).

Government conspiracies (5, Funny)

0zzymandias (258026) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152811)

I like to make my customers think... That's why I have echelon, bigbrother, etc. It's lot's of fun. I have learned to stay away from religious names though. I once had a baptist minister who wondered why a WHOIS on his domain showed his nameserver as Lucifer.

Lucifer (2)

totallygeek (263191) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152935)

I have some boxes at a copy named after Greek gods. Data Services got HADES -- duh!

Also, I have another client where the machines are named after planets, with the server being called THESUN, but one extremely annoying woman has URANUS.

themes are good (2)

kin_korn_karn (466864) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152812)

i've tended to use themes in the past. some of mine:

1) cities in Mexico
2) old video game characters
3) strange animals

simpsons character names are a common theme. at my current job, they name servers after old comedians (ollie, bud, lou) and give them aliases that sound more clinical. i.e. the nameserver has its colloquial name but it's also known as

another place I worked at named servers after the latin form of volcano names, i.e. krakatoa, helena, etc.

- Josh

Re:themes are good (4, Funny)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152914)

Personally, I've thought about naming servers after sexually transmitted diseases. Imagine walking into a room: "Hey, can you check Syphylis? For some reason AIDS isn't talking to it."

Re:themes are good (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3152917)

Yes, themes are good. For your number of servers, I suggest stars as a theme.

You can group by galaxy:
et cetera

Or you could group by constellations for smaller groups of servers:
et cetera

Or just plain stars:
Regulu s
et cetera

You can always add in Nebulae, Comets, and Planets if you need more groups.

Of course, the downside is that you must remember which names refer to which celestial objects, but it's fun and educational! What more can you ask from a tech job?

Why stick to just one domain? (4, Insightful)

antiher0 (41258) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152814)

Why not just do subdomains (e.g. Ease of use... ease of maintenance (due to seperated dns entries). Just plain easy :)

Our Convention (2, Interesting)

Sawbones (176430) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152816)

granted it's a 10 character convention, but still:

[2 letters] - data center

[3 letters] - group name

[2 letters] - service type (wb, sq, lb)

[3 characters] - server number (A01, A02)

it works pretty well. For something with only one datacenter you may try some sort of physical location indicator rather than a data center name like server row number. It makes it a heck of a lot easier when you need to physically track down a server.

Re:Our Convention (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3152896)

That's silly. Name the third public relations database server in New York: "nyprewba03". Now imagine a failure situation: "What the fuck, nypredba03 has shredded the customer database again!" See, doesn't work. You're ruining the admins' health by denying them the use of quick expletives.

Check the RFC (5, Informative)

wiredog (43288) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152817)

RFC 1178 [] , Choosing a Name for Your Computer

This is the best post thus far (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3152929)

wiredog provides a link to the RFC for naming. Nice work.

No no no... (5, Funny)

burtonator (70115) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152819)

use 128 bit UUIDs... no collision!


if that isn't easy to remember I don't know what is!

Hoth, Naboo, Alderon... oh my (1)

Mr. Jaggers (167308) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152821)

At my old job we used to name all of our servers after Star Wars planets... I think there is an encyclopedia somewhere that has a couple hundred.
Heck, you could even name one "death-star" since that was sort of an artificial planet (moon, I know).

How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3152822)

Server0001 through Server0200?

Countries (1)

kilroy_hau (187226) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152825)

In my job we use countries, (nigeria, argentina, etc)

In my earlier job we used comic characters (obelix, asterix, etc)

oh, you want a useful convention, never used one.

Famous People (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3152828)

Considering you will have 4000 boxes, I'd suggest using famous people as a naming convention:


Hall of Fame (0)

Kones (554949) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152829)

You can use any type of hall of fame, since new people are added each year or so, allowing for further expansion. So, baseball, football, basketball, teams for clusters, players for workstations, etc.

I almost hate to say it but.... (1)

JonWan (456212) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152835)

All of the computers on my network, about 3 or 4 most of the time are named for female ANIME characters. My personal machine is Ryoko, a Win98 machine is Akane, and my firewall is Armitage.

Don't name the machines after what they do (5, Insightful)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152836)

Make the hostname and the service orthogonal. If your machine is just named, you can easily repurpose it from http to imap service. But if the name is, you'll need to change DNS and change the machine's configuration files before you can repurpose the box. Then you'll have to update your ssh authorized_keys and known_hosts files, and any other information that deals with hosts.

My company is an example of extremely stupid behavior. We have desktop machines named jsmithw2knyc. Anytime the machine is reassigned to another person, moved from office to office, or changes operating systems, the hostname and DNS must be updated. It's silly.

Re:Don't name the machines after what they do (2, Interesting)

Mark Pitman (1610) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152915)

I agree. The other thing to do then is create a database of all your servernames with additional descriptive info about the server, such as location, function, who it is allocated to, etc. If you try to stuff all that info into a short name with a bunch of abreviations, it is going to become useless anyway.

Comicbook character names and so-forth are fun, but can be seen as unprofessional by some, and possibly even offensive in some cases.

That's what CNAMES are for (5, Insightful)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152937)

You should assign LOGICAL names to services, and then map them into actual hosts via CNAME records.

For example, we have our servers named after the characters from Cheers - norm, diane, cliff, lillith, etc.

We also have functional names - smtp, pop3, dns, etc.

Now, in the DNS records, we have:

smtp CNAME cliff
pop3 CNAME cliff
dns CNAME norm

As a result, the clients are configured to send mail to smtp, get mail from pop3, but that is mapped into cliff. If we move outbound mail to norm, we just change the cname.

Geographic naming (1)

Rob Riggs (6418) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152837)

Name them after geographic features. You can group them by region (state, country, continent) and you have near infinite growth potential. You can name them after cities & towns, rivers & streams, mountains, lakes, etc.

It's the best naming convention I've seen yet.

What about your users? (1)

Filberts (35129) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152838)

A while back while working as a consultant, routinely setting up file servers for different companies, I ran into the same problem. I solved it much the same way as proposed by you... (Company Initials/ Ticker + Location + Server Function + Server Number: IMICA-SLASH01, for example.) I found that naming servers after characters may prove to be nice for whomever did it, but in an arena where I would install and leave the poor saps on their own, it always helped tremendously to have a recognizable convention.


Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3152839)

Sla$hdot is gay

Sla$hdot is gay. If you are reading this, you are homosexual.

Sla$hdot is gay

Sla$hdot is gay

Foreman Approach (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3152840)

Name them all George. It might confuse hackers.

Norms (2)

sparkz (146432) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152841)

It's pretty common to use techniques similar to what you describe initially. Often six alpha and 2 digits, eg, abcdef63. This lets you have 100 machines with the "same" name (abcdef), and 6 chars is long enough to have a "decent" project name.
Alternatively, split them into 4+2+2, or 5+1+2. 5+1+2 is pretty versatile, project + code + number.

The trend seems to be going away from "real" names in the past 5-8 years... One customer of mine had all their printers named after Disney characters. I think the problem is keeping to themes; one place I worked had planets and moons for differnet types of boxes, but people started adding stars, or getting confused about what's a moon! It's also limiting in that after the 9th "planet-type" system, what do you do when you order 5 new servers? It may be possible to keep getting more obscure, but you lose the practicality which was the main purpose.

Close to home (3, Interesting)

catfood (40112) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152842)

For my little network at the home office I use the original (pre- annexation) names of streets in the neighborhood.

My wife thinks this is cool because she loves local history.

I think it's cool because I get to use names like maple, kuchle, liberty, newburgh, and columbus. Only the real old-timers from the hood get it. They enjoy knowing a little something about computers that younger people don't, even though it's totally non-technical.

As a practical matter, it's a nearly inexhaustible "theme" category; as you need more names, just reach out to a larger radius. In a decent-sized city you'll need a full Class C to max out the theme.

DNS? (2)

jtdubs (61885) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152843)

You can always just use whatever hostname seems logical, disable all the NetBIOS shit on the windows boxes, and then setup and internal DNS server to resolve the names.

This way you can create something more hierarchical and verbose.


# joe dehli's first workstation (ws)
# joe dehli's second workstation (ws)

# first mass-storage file server (srv)
# second mass-storage file server (srv)

You can even go so far as to use LDAP for resolution depending on what platforms you plan on supporting and what needs you have for this naming system.

Just some ideas.

Justin Dubs

Best naming convention I ever saw (1)

njb42 (556147) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152844)

The best one I ever saw was at the University of Delaware when I was an undergraduate. There was a roomfull of SPARC IPC's, all named after flavors of ice cream:,,, etc. The file server, of course, was named

Well, I thought it was kinda cute, anyway. Obviously you'd be hard pressed to come up with 4,000 flavors of ice cream. Most large sites I've consulted at use some variation on your first idea, e.g. site code + (function or department) + number.

zip codes (1)

trefoil (153310) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152848)

just like the US postal service does.. split up areas with zip codes, and then sub divide those areas

Naming Conventions (5, Interesting)

nurightshu (517038) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152850)

At the company I work at, we have ~5000 servers worldwide, and they all follow the same naming convention:

  • 2-character nation ID
  • 2-character state/province/region ID
  • 3-character city ID
  • 2-character production/development classifier
  • 3-character unique numeric number

Thus, a production server in Minneapolis, Minnesota would be usmnminpsnnn , or a development server in Vancouver, BC, would be cabcvandsnnn .

Names? Food Truck Menu Items (1)

Muerte23 (178626) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152852)

In the lab where I work I only get to name three machines.


Note that chickenparmesan is the maximum length for a WFW filesharing system (I think, don't flame me.). Humor always has a place. Cartoon characters too.... Hmmmmm Voltron.

Anyways, just being a troll.

Re:Names? Food Truck Menu Items (-1)

L0rdkariya (562469) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152922)

Anyways, just being a troll.

You wish, pussy.

jhg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3152857)

our company used fish names!

trout, whale etc...

i've worked in a similar environment (5, Interesting)

StandardDeviant (122674) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152860)

At $job[-2] we had about 200 hosts, give or take. Effectively, we did the name + number bit, becuase in our case, the servers were either standalone functionality (e.g.,,, or part of a large herd of machines doing the same thing: pbs001 .. pbs111 .. pbsXYZ (number cruncher machines running the pbs job batch control system). My advice to you is locate the "unique" machines, and give them names that strongly reflect their function on the network. The "herd members" you should give numeric names to (e.g. aix9999, fbsd3333, lnux2222, etc.) that also reflect the operating system being used (standardize the abbreviated os names, of course, nothing like wondering if 'dux' is a machine that quacks or a data general UX host). Keep an electronic (and paper!) record of what client is on which herd machine. I know the number thing seems a little impersonal, but how many anime series are there that can scale to several thousand host names? Even if you like war and peace, you'd run out after several hundred...

Well, (0, Offtopic)

Phenylene (519781) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152861)

You could name them:





Re:Well, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3152881)

Then you would need one more name. Got math?

Re:Well, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3152933)

Off-by-one. Happens to the best of us.

Major cities. (2, Interesting)

prizzznecious (551920) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152863)

Perhaps it doesn't have the same geek appeal as sci-fi or anime, but where I work the servers are named after major cities across the world. I find this to be a better choice than something geeky because everybody knows the major world cities, and so the names are extremely easy for people to remember.

As an extra special bonus, it makes you feel like you're the president or something when you're having meetings about various world cities. Or at least.. uh.. it makes me feel that way.

well...duh.... (2, Interesting)

Zurk (37028) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152864)

just name the servers after the *functions* they serve rather than a theme or other crap.
for example :
MR237BWEB01 - Mail Room number 237B Webserver 1.
CONF225FIL01 - Conference room 225 File Server 1.
EXTCOMPWEB01 - External Company web server 1.
alternatively you could also do the theme thing and assign some genre to a particular department.
for example, all accounting servers could be named after fish e.g. bluefish, haddock, trout, etc.
or colors or star wars themes or anything else.
i prefer the dept/room number/server type/server number scheme myself and using acronyms you could easily keep it under 8 characters for the host name.
Of course be sure to add the host names into a comma delimited file with an explanation and ip address/subnet and room location of the server (or rack location). Make sure you keep the file someplace publically accessible like on a webserver someplace.

Why not langauges? (2)

PeterClark (324270) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152865)

There are over 6,000 languages in the world, which should be plenty for your purposes! :) Start off with the major languages, then work your way to the more obscure. SIL's Ethnologue [] is a great place to start.


Re:Why not langauges? (2)

PeterClark (324270) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152925)

Hmm--I guess I had better post a better link than just the front page; here is the Ethnologue language name index [] that claims to have listings of 6,800 main languages. However, their database apparently contains 41,000 alternative names and dialects. If that doesn't meet your needs, than nothing will!


Not random! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3152866)

The problem with random combination of numbers and letters is that there's a finite number of possible names: 8^(26+10) of them. So I'd use one of the other schemes just to be sure.

question (1)

ajrs (186276) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152867)

why do you want to put all 4000 servers in the same domain? I don't keep 4000 files in the same directory. This is why we have sub domains.

Names I Use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3152870)

I like to name my servers after greek gods. The man that wipes my shoes is called Ralph.

people names? (2, Interesting)

LMCBoy (185365) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152871)

How about just using first names of people? They'd be easy to pronounce/remember, there's an effectively limitless supply to draw from (just get one of those "Name Your Baby" books), and you could even group servers topically (Joe's Deli gets Russian female names, John's Delivery gets African male names, etc).

Gotta have an Elvis (1)

stiv (411055) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152873)

We started with singers (elvis, lemmy, etc.), went conventional (cobalt1, host, etc.), and have now settled on computer names (trs80, vic20, rs6000, pdp11, etc.) which seems pretty cool and is good for loads of laughs on support calls ('My mail is hosted on a trs-80!?!').

Row + Column + 4 letter name (2, Interesting)

strictnein (318940) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152875)

An example I've seen used for a larger server farm. Looking at the layout of the server farm, they're usually aligned in rows and columns.

They had the name as such:

Row + Column + 4 letter name.

So, for the Joe's Deli example, which is in row 15 and column 20, you could have:

You could also have:

Row + Column + 2 letter name + 2 letter service type

So for Joe's Deli again:

The downside is if you physically move the servers around, it can cause problems.

Re:Row + Column + 4 letter name (1)

strictnein (318940) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152902)

Total number or servers that can be named via this scheme:

100 (00-99) rows * 100 (00-99) columns

10,000 servers total.

Scifi or classic literature (2, Insightful)

Etcetera (14711) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152876)

At our ISP we've recently started rebuilding all of our servers. As we go, we're renaming them to character names from BSSM (Japanese vers. of Sailor Moon ) like: "makoto" or "". Should be good for a while. :)

In general, a genre of science fiction would tend to work, as scifi stories tend to have large numbers of "named things" in them for some reason. (Just thing of all the planets mentioned at some point in the Foundation series).

Famous literature is a good source as well. How about cluster of Caddy, Benjy, Jason, and Quentin? We'll be naming the "important boxes", ie a primary name server, after the author, with the backup or subsidary boxes named after characters in books they've written. It's a pretty easy method to come up with new names, and if you're an IB student you'll have no problem recognizing what cluster a specific machine belongs to :)

er... Should be "Scifi, Anime, or classic lit" (1)

Etcetera (14711) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152932)

and "Just think of all the planets..."

"preview" is a good thing

More themes (2, Funny)

flying_triguy (560874) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152877)

World Beers --> Fun to sample the potential names....

PHB "What do you think you're doing"

Lackey "Naming the servers sir, just 3500 more beers to go ..."

Two conventions I like: (4, Interesting)

Apuleius (6901) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152879)

1. None at all. Good for security. A naming
convention is a nice shortcut when a script
kiddie is portscanning.

2. Naming conventions. (I.e. name the
Web server "Tolkein-Place-Names", the
mail server "Famous-Composers", et cetera.)

If covering a large area.... (2, Interesting)

jrwillis (306262) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152887)

If you support a large number of offices like my I.T. group does (state government) the following method works great for us. All normal file servers in our system use this convention. The first two letters are always fs for file server followed by the first two letters of the city in which the server is located and then the first letter of the street it's located on. We add a few characters on the end for other internal tracking purposes, but this covers most of the important stuff. An example of this in use would be FSJAExxx with the x's being extra info. This system has worked great so far on the third largest network in Texas. I know this won't help the poster much, but maybe someone out there can use it.

LOTR (2, Funny)

coult (200316) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152894)

I know! Name them after characters in the Lord of the Rings. All your hax0r friends will think you are cool, hip, and original.

the ways I've seen it done.. (3, Redundant)

Xzzy (111297) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152895)

First job of mine was with a national hosting firm, so they made a naming scheme that reflected geography, client, and series. For example:

Worked fairly well. We used the code for the closest airport for the geography portion. Also served to make dns adminning a mite prettier. Course that provides you're not against overly specific domain names. The '01' could also be replaced with significant letters for certain machines. customer-fw, for example, would be customer's firewall.

A more bureaucratic approach that we did at another job combined the theme idea with the department name. This works in a place where there are lot of computing divisions that have their own little kingdom of machines. Like where I work, we're known as "D0". Thus, we call our machines d0nut, d0mino, d0om, you get the idea.

We also have an unofficial series system that borrows on the idea, d0lx001 is d0's first linux node. Again, it works well for the scope it's been defined for.

I wager a nicely scalable system could be built using a combination of my two examples. If your machines have limits on hostname length, check on the limits of dns heirarchy. They may allow finer granularity.

For small organizations (under 20 machines, not counting workstations), theme oriented works just fine.

Anything is better than our server names (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152897)

Our two W2K servers at work are named...brace yourself...fileserver and exchange. Fsck, might as well paint the whole building beige while they're at it.

At home, where I run the show, I like to use the names of Transformers characters, with Optimus being my Linux-based firewall/dhcp server/proxy.

5(name) - 1(use) - 2(number) (1)

gricholson75 (563000) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152898)

This gives you 5 chars for a name. And really do you need more than 1 char for use? w - web f - ftp d - database l - login etc.

make all the letters useful (1)

retrac (60508) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152899)

you have (usually) 8 characters so make them count.

3 for location
1 for os
1 for year of install (I know after 10 years it gets confusing)
3 for unique id (ie first initial, last initial, number)

for a canadian server running SunOS installed in 2001. cans1tc1

so when it shows up on the error log. you know which city, what support team to send out, etc.

the actual name gives you alot of information without having to look it up in the master table.


past (1)

Yablo (98362) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152900)

i've used:
greek mythology (zeus, aphrodite, hades, etc)
DBZ characters (goku, gohan, vegeta, etc)
beastie boys song names (paulrevere, grasshopperunit, professorbooty, etc)

short aliases are good (1)

boster (124383) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152901)

This is slightly offtopic since the question pertained to a LARGE call center and this would work with the number of machines mentioned. But I thought I'd mention a rule used for the CS dept. of my old university.

In each lab they usually used a theme based system (surprise, surprise). But each name had to have the first three letters be unique. Then the first three letters were entered as DNS aliases. This was extremely convenient! "telnet blahfoonarfzoinks" becomes "telnet bla".

Lands (2)

Telastyn (206146) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152905)

My current home machines are named off of fantasy cities/lands, with the universe/world as the subdomain.

Another thing used at my workplace is having a cname for (machine #).(rack #).(server closet #) Useful when you've tons of the same looking machines that don't move much.

At an isp I worked at previously their names were (use)(O-S)(##).(location ID) Like wwwbsd01.berlin01.******.com

My best recommendation is to have a 'proper' name for things, and a cname to something that's memorable for the people that need to work on the machine.

Stooges (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3152906)

Larry Moe Curly Shemp
Of course, it doesn't scale well.

The answer's up in the sky (2) (559698) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152907)

Stars (constellations, too)!

You could sort all of your company's machines into multiple bins based on which room they're in. Then, let's say you have two main rooms of machines -- one room will have machines with star or constellation names starting with A-K, the other, L-Z.

Here's a helpful listing: ames.html []

So, you would know automatically which room to head to if someone called for help saying that "Orion" just crashed :-)

MONOLINUX :: Imagine There's No Windows. It's Easy If You Try. []

Let companies pick. (1)

Penguinoflight (517245) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152910)

You're talking about different companies using your datacenter, so why not just let them pick? Of course, you will be the people who have to deal with the machines, but I'd leave it open to them. Of course, you would have a criteria for the naming.

Make it easy to hack (1)

c0d3po3t (564754) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152912)

Our company uses a very interesting naming convention - name it for the OS. Most of the servers are running NT, so they are named NTxxxx where NT is a progressive name. So you never know if you're copying to the right server or not. Who's to know that nt17 is the mail server? If it's a non-NT box, then it's named SVxxxx in another progressing fashion. Disclaimer: This was sarcasm. I in no way recommend actually using this type of thing.

Dumb names (1)

simtra (175797) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152921)

You can use the names that we used tho it maked little sense. The NT boxes started with NT and then a number and the UNIX (Solaris) boxes where named sol and a number.

It was loads of fun to say. "sol024 is down again. Gods we are SOL now."

It is just a shame that the NT boxes are the ones that are down more.

be sensible (5, Insightful)

furiousgeorge (30912) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152923)

Do NOT use cutesy names. (Homer, Marge, etc etc etc). That works fine when you've got a lab of a dozen machines. When you've got thousands it's silly and unmangeable. I know I don't expect I'll be able to remember where one our of 5000 hosts is just because the name is "mickeymouse". Imagine just how functional that is for somebody who's new to your NOC?

Personally I'd encode them using one or two characters to denote the platform ( i = intel, s = sun, h = hp, blah blah). Then use the additional characters to denote room, rack, etc etc. If you're allowed to use sub domains that makes your life much easier.

Maybe I'm over pragmatic :) But with that many machines, the biggest problem you have is FINDING the machine when something goes wrong. My company here has a policy that we name machines after beaches --- "pismo" "waikiki" etc etc. Thats all fine and dandy..... until the someone starts screaming "WHO IS RUNNING HOST *LONGBEACH*??? YOU'RE SPEWING OUT CRAZY MULTICAST AND TRASHING THE NETWORK." Our host count is only in the low hundreds, but actually FINDING the offending machine is a big fat waste of time.

If you absolutely have/want to use 'friendly' names. Give your machines multiple names..... the pretty one, and the ugly sensible one so you can easily map between the two when you have to.

I hate to use it as an example --- but look at Hotmail when you log in. They are using subdomains and strict naming conventions for there servers. It's the only sensible thing to do..... unless you're trying to guarantee youself job security (and if thats the case and I was your boss and I found out i'd fire your ass for being a moron).

What I used (3, Interesting)

rosewood (99925) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152924)

Okay Im a big literature dork (not a spelling dork) and I named all the servers based of characters from Canterbury Tales by Chaucer. Then, I used shakespeare characters (we had one box prown to crashing named Hamlet, god that killed me - Im a loser). After that to please my co-worker, we did a few steven king titles and then some Clancy. Those were the only modern literature relations - the rest were all classic literature but pretty random. Cervantes, Poe, Melvil, Orwell (1984 and AFarm were both there), and so many more. Book titles, famous characters, and authors were all game. We tried hard to associate the server type with the character if we could

We had fights with management wanting names like MAIL01, MAIL02, etc. but I bit them down when I told them that if one server type ever got above 100 then it would be a bitch or over 1000, etc.

Upper management liked the scheme cause when they would show clients the server rooms they would see these great literature references on the boxes which made us look inteligent. Win + Win.

Star names (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3152926)

You could use planets but thats not enough. Why not use star names or constallations. For a list check out Here []

name them after stars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3152927)

Everybody loves stars

Naming Conventions (0)

ArchAngelQ (35053) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152930)

Personally, I name my small network after mental disorders. My router is named paranoia, and my dual booting workstation is schzophrenia. Not that this helps any ;)

Server name encoding... (1)

ealbers (553702) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152931)

I know its boring, but why not use Hex or binary... 04X 02X 02X first for hex digits could be ranged to be various departments 0x00-0x100 accounting, etc second would be server type third could be anything.

Don't get hung up on meaning. (2)

flacco (324089) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152934)

I'm not sure it's a good idea to use meaningful names. You might want to change (or augment) the function your server provides, then you have to change the name if you want to remain consistent. Or, if your server provides multiple functions, what do you do?

If you're feeling playful, how about: starsky, hutch, huggybear, kotter, fonzi, richie, potsie, baretta, oscar, felix, etc.

If not: myco0001, myco0002, etc.

You can always assign aliases for functional purposes: mail, news, www, ftp, etc.

Hybrid system (1)

jhines (82154) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152940)

I'd suggest giving the major items their own names, so that they can be refered to by the staff easily.

For something like a cluster of servers for a single task, use a name to refer to the total, and numbers for the individual units.

simple... (2)

psxndc (105904) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152944)

Movie titles. There are tons out there and more coming out all the time. They don't have to be good ones (my friend here was stuck with pokemon). They don't help tell where the machine is or what its for, but they work.


Anything and EVERYTHING :-) (2)

nbvb (32836) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152947)

You have to have some FUN with it!! Hostnames are an extension of the system. Any real sysadmin picks up on a system's personality; a unique hostname only adds to that.

We have some servers named after function, i.e.

I can't stand those. They're boring.

Then we have some named after things related to their function:
(all firewalls)

OK, we're getting better...

Then we have some named after completely unrelated things:
tomorro w
(Those are E10k domains :-)

Then we have other things named after children's books:

Then we have cartoon characters:
wayba ck (the backup server)

Then we have the scifi stuff:

And of course, no data center would be complete without Simpson characters:

Of course, you could be like our west-coast data center and name your servers after mobsters... :-)

The bottom line is that you need to have FUN with your hostnames! Besides that, it's better than naming your system important-financials-here.please-own-me.megagloboc


Depends on how many (2)

Matey-O (518004) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152951)

The more servers you get, the more it's helpful to have a name that helps you FIND the server.

At my old office, where we had regional servers, we had DHQNTA, DHQ19V, etc, that is Denver HQ, NT server A, 19 Vax, etc.

Currently, our 'rabbit farm' of NT servers (because the numbers keep growing by leaps and bounds) are named by service: SDevWeb01, SWeb, SMail, STestSQL01, etc.

S means it's a server, then Test Dev or Prod, plus a number if it's an actual server, or not if it's a cluster. Thus SWeb is the internal web cluster, but SWeb04 is one of the servers.

This works well if you've got two dozen servers or less...if you were Rackspace, I'd imagine naming the server after it's location on the rack, then pointing a DNS alias to it would be more helpful...pinging JoesBait&ISP is less helpful than pinging Rack014U14 when a NIC dies.

LABEL YOUR SERVERS! Nothing quite like using a console switch, pressing a reset button on the server underneath the console to reboot a dev box, only to realize you REALLY nuked a SIGNIFICANT portion of your enterprise File services!

Namespaces matter (1, Redundant)

iamsure (66666) | more than 12 years ago | (#3152952)

Consider the namespace.

With 8 characters, you have over 20 million possibilities.. However, realistically memorable phrases under 8 characters is considerably less. Further, ones that fit a theme even more so..

Find a fiction element (movie, tv show, book, musician, songs, etc), and use character or element names from it.

Examples that easily scale to 4000 devices:

- Star wars: At an ISP I worked at, we used Star Wars. All Windows machines were named after elements from the Empire (of course), and all unixy systems were from the Rebels. Destroyer, AT-AT, Yoda, Obi, Dagobah, etc. There are literally tens of thousands of elements in the Star Wars universe to choose from.

- The Simpsons: At an unnamed enterprise class wireless provider, this is the de-facto naming convention. It truly has a limitless number of elements, with element combinations like lisassax (lisa's sax). Couple that with phrases "haveacow", and events "shotbrns"..

- Books by Stephen King: There just isnt a more prolific, and well known horror writer. Again, the elements make the naming convention robust.

As to your idea of including the function of the device, consider:

- Easier for bad guys to target which systems to attack
- New recruits will STILL have the learning curve (ns is obviously name serving, and db is obviously database, but who would guess that ae is auth database because ad was taken by active directory!!)
- Learning what each server is/does is BETTER for new admins anyways. Jumping in is not always a great thing, and having a solid memory connection to a server is DEEPLY helpful.

These are just based on my experience after 5 years in the industry. Personally, I name computers based on Piers Anthony's "Incarnations Of Immortality" although it wouldnt scale to 4000 elements.

There is something indescribably cool about being [root@evil root]#

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