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Hardware Idle

Server Names For a New Generation 429

itwbennett writes "Server naming is well-trod ground on Slashdot. But as new generations enter the workforce, they're relearning the fundamentals of what makes a good scheme. Can servers named after characters from The Simpsons or The Howard Stern show stand the test of time? If you name your servers after the Seven Dwarfs, can you have any doubt that Grumpy will cause you trouble? Striking a balance between fun and functional is harder than it seems."
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Server Names For a New Generation

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  • by DJ Jones ( 997846 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @02:37AM (#39284541) Homepage
    A server name needs to directly correspond to a server's function. I'm not saying you can't be creative but don't be stupid. When you grow beyond ~10 servers, cutesie names are going to cause you to work weekends trying to track down basic networking issues. Here's what I do: if it's a web server, start the name with a "W". MySQL server, start the name with an "M" and so on. If it's paired or load balanced, put a numeral on the end of it to identify it's system. Beyond that, I let the interns name the servers using whatever new-age cultural references their little inexperienced hearts desire.

    Eventually you may outgrow any naming convention but by then you hope to be on an island sipping margaritas while someone else worries about these things.
  • by Hacksaw ( 3678 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @03:26AM (#39284779) Homepage Journal

    Nailed it.

    With servers being generally virtual these days, and the underlying physical hardware a highly replaceable substrate, there's no reason for an enterprise to have serves which do more than one thing. If a server does only one thing, it ought to be named for that one thing.

    Where is that machine? Somewhere in the blade cage. If I yank the blade, it'll appear in a few seconds on another blade. Where is the data? On the giant fiber RAID, which is replicated in the west coast office, and two secret locations.

    Compute is a cloud, storage is a cloud, services come from that cloud, the clouds made of physical devices in as many locations as make sense.

    The old physical network topology is finally just the nerves and pumps, and no longer the focus.

    The focus is the data. The data is what we produce to make value, to drive the business process. Servers aren't special anymore, they're like hammers. You don't name hammers, typically. But you might have more than w=one, and you definitely want to know two things: where is it, and what is it for.

  • by oneiros27 ( 46144 ) on Thursday March 08, 2012 @04:45AM (#39285179) Homepage

    The problem with naming servers after their functions is that in most shops, a server does more than one thing. And they often get moved / repurposed / whatever.

    So that machine that's now ldap-ny-02? Well, last week it was web-ny-05. A couple months from now, are you going to remember that name change, and that web-ny-05 had that flaky power supply / fibre card / etc?

    Oh, that service that had been running on lasco05? We moved that to the 'new' lasco03. (and there have been how many machines named lasco03?)

    I've worked in a lot of places, and these days with clusters, virtual hosts, etc, you often have a different public-facing name (which will get used when people call in a problem ... how are they to know that some service is 5+ machines behind a load balancer? Or that all of the web sub-domains are really on the same server? Even if you don't plan for the abstraction, it already exists due to these different aggregations.

    If you give the hardware one name when it comes in, and only use aliases for each of the public services, you don't have to worry about recycling names just so there's no service interuptions. ... and, true story, I've even worked in place with a machine named 'teller' after Edward Teller (the last article), as all of our mail servers were named after scientists ... but when I moved it for testing, I renamed the pair for that cluster to 'penn', and we later added a 'copperfield' and 'houdini' ... but we had to scrap the physicist names when our director didn't believe us that the spam filters weren't rejecting his e-mail because it was going through a machine named 'lovelace', and it was named after Ada Lovelace, not Linda Lovelace.)

    I've worked with machines named after cheeses, spices, cartoon characters, music albums, movies, adverbs, muppets, states, rivers, tv-characters, the boss's family, periodic table, hashes of the service/location/os, astronomical phenomena,

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