Server Naming Conventions And Why They’re Important

It’s always interesting to see what naming conventions other sysadmins use when it comes to deploying servers.

Some of the common naming conventions I’ve seen over the years are named after characters from cartoons, the planets, colours, girls names, months, and of course the default name entered during the Windows install.

I find it a real nightmare trying to the work out the server roles when every host is named after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. If I have to sit down to figure out the purpose of Sleepy, then something is really wrong.

What is the best server naming convention?

Nobody has the correct answer to what is the best naming convention because each environment is different as are the engineers who design, build, manage, and support it.
So if we don’t know the best naming convention what makes a good one?

For me personally, having the server roles in the name of the host makes it a lot easier to see exactly what purpose that server has at a very quick glance.

A very basic example would be:

SV-DC-01
SV-DC-02
SV-TS-01
SV-DB-01
SV-FL-01
SV-FL-02
SV-BK-01

At a very quick glance I can tell there are two domain controllers, a terminal services server, two database servers, two file servers, and a backup server. If I had desktops I’d probably use DK-SA-01 (desktop 1 in sales department) or something similar.

Imagine walking into a new job tomorrow and from day one you already know the server roles without having to learn anything.

Now take a look at an infrastructure named after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs:

Bashful
Doc
Dopey
Grumpy
Happy
Sleepy
Sneezy

This tells me and everyone else, nothing.