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It's always fun seeing server names from workplace to workplace (used to be in consulting...very interesting). However, when it comes to software development and you're new to a workplace, those server names are extremely hard to learn...especially if you have hundreds of servers. Since I am a developer, I would opt for server names descriptive of their function, such as "MyCompanySharePointDev", "MyCompanySharePointProd", "MyCompanyExchange", etc. However, I'm currently working with server admins that say this isn't the way to go, and that more obscure names are better (like "Jupiter"), since they can be repurposed later on with the same name. What are the pros and cons of making server names descriptive vs obscure in a virtualized environment where servers can be brought up and down extremely fast.

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I love a good "dns naming scheme" fight, but there's a great thread devoted to this already: – Matt Simmons Jul 8 '10 at 19:28
Incidentally, my blog post (…) got to the front page of Slashdot ( - Lots of good discussion there, too – Matt Simmons Jul 8 '10 at 19:30
Thanks for those links, Matt! – Ryan Hayes Jul 8 '10 at 19:32
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Best practice IMO is to use unique names for the machines with CNAMEs (aliases) used for functional naming. That way you can swap out machines easily by just changing the CNAME entry to point to the new machine.

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Well, in my environment (which has many global locations) we use the first three letters of the city, main function, and what number it is. Also, if it's a dev or production box.

This way, taking a quick glance at your network you know what you have allotted for resources. Also, new hires can figure out the network easier than memorizing obscure names.

However, having obscure names it more secure - as one wouldn't know exactly what the box did and less (hopefully) susceptible to attacks.

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