Chapter 11. What's in a Name? Network Name Overview

Most things that we humans work with have names. Without a name, it's hard to identify an object or discuss it in any meaningful way. Effective names are ones that are easy to remember and understand. They also have context in that you associate the object with other objects. That's why names are so important to networks. If I were to say, "Come visit my Web site at," then I think it's safe to say that I wouldn't have to put in 20 servers to handle the overwhelming traffic, if you know what I mean — """ is a bit easier to remember. Similarly, remembering that your intranet server "" holds the bookkeeping data is a lot easier if you can name the server "Accounting."

Unfortunately, human names are inexact to a computer — examples are "Accounting," "the Accounting server," or "that stupid server that we really need to upgrade, but that those bozos in Accounting won't let us upgrade?" That's why the "true" address of a computer, its IP address, is numeric. But we humans like the idea of names, so we need some way to make both the silicon-based and carbon-based components of the network get along. The compromise that virtually all networks strike is the network name, a pairing of "human recognizable and remember-able" with "computer understandable."

To accommodate both humans and computers, vendors have had to develop a number of naming schemes over the years. These schemes help create a link between ...

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