Server names put the fun in functional

Don't trust your data to a server named Dopey

What's in a name? When it comes to servers, as it turns out, quite a lot.

Server names are designed for functionality: They let system administrators easily identify each machine and keep track of what it does. For some companies, that means coming up with a cut-and-dried alphanumeric convention. For others, it means taking the opportunity to get a little creative.

"The basic rule is that the name should be unique with enough options so that [it] can always be informative," says Cormack Lawler, a data center director at Rackspace.

That rule, as I've discovered, provides plenty of wiggle room. I set out to track down the country's most clever and amusing server-naming strategies. Here are some of my favorite finds.

It's a bird, it's a plane...

Superman vs. Hulkflickr/JD Hancock
Superman vs. Hulk

Sometimes it takes a true superhero to run a busy IT department. The folks at LinkUp.com, a job search engine, decided to take that notion to heart.

In true tongue-and-cheek style, LinkUp named each of its external servers after a Marvel superhero character. The team put a lot of thought into its naming process, too. Some highlights:

  • Pepper, the business logic server, is named after Pepper Potts, the business-minded brainiac behind Iron Man's Stark Industries.
  • Pym, the virtual server, is named after scientist Henry Pym, a.k.a. Ant Man, because -- as LinkUp.com IT Architect Eric Caron puts it -- "it has a very tiny footprint, being a virtual server like VMWare, but is responsible for complex things."
  • Sage, the company's DNS server, is named after the Marvel mutant character Sage. "All it basically does is answer questions all day long," Caron explains. "It doesn't really do anything exciting."
  • Dagger, the security auditing server, is named after Silver Dagger, a Marvel character who apparently serves as a locksmith (I'll take their word for it).

Some of the company's server names are a bit more obvious -- Hulk, for example, is the machine with the most horsepower -- but all in all, you can tell these guys take their naming decisions seriously. And according to Caron, the effort is very much appreciated.

"What can I say?" he asks. "Geeks love comic books."

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