Tuesday, July 1, 2008

DNS Names for internal hosts

Bob Plankers, over at The Lone Sysadmin wrote a couple days ago about getting busted while reading the wiki page on X-Men. He tried to cover it up by claiming to be researching future host names. Quick thinking, Bob. Good job! ;-)

It does bring up a good point, though. Internal naming schemes are something that everyone has an opinion on, and a load of suggestions.

At various places, I've used greek/roman gods, Simpsons characters, beer companies, wine labels, and fish.

At my current company, we used the beer and wine names. We absorbed another company that used fish. It worked fine for a while, but we grew in terms of servers and locations until it got unwieldy to remember A) all the names, and B) what each name did. You'd also start to get very similar names after a while. We've now got 4 physical locations, soon to be 5, and something like 50-60 servers (not counting network devices), no one would be able to keep them all straight (including the admin).

To improve the situation, we're in the process of changing to location-based hostnames with a flat internal domain structure. For example, the 2ndary application server in Ohio is oh-app2, with the fake internal domain name trailing. The alpha site's primary fileserver is a-fs1.

It's no where near as fun as "wolverine.internal.com" but it certainly does tell you where you're connecting to and what the machine does. What makes it interesting is when you go changing things like CVS repositories on people's machines, mail servers, etc. The policy we've taken is to alias the old information to the new, and slowly phase out the old method.

What do you use as internal naming systems? What do you think would make an excellent scheme? Make sure to check the list to make sure it hasn't been done before!