Server names put the fun in functional

Don't trust your data to a server named Dopey

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Baba Booey, is that you?

Howard SternREUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Radio personality Howard Stern speaks during a news conference in New York February 28, 2006.

From kid-friendly creations to X-rated inspiration, our next server-naming convention comes from a downright risque source. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

The gang from RJMetrics, a Philly-based business software development firm, names all of its servers in honor of characters from "The Howard Stern Show." And they do it in a way that'd make the "king" himself proud.

"'Howard' is the server where our scheduler application runs," explains RJMetrics CEO Robert J. Moore. "That's where all the brains are; the rest of the servers just follow Howard's orders, kind of like [on] the show."

Beneath "Howard," you have everything from "Ronnie" -- the firewall server, named after the show's security guard -- to "Scott the Engineer," which serves as the main backup machine. RJMetrics even has servers named after Howard's family and regular callers to the show.

"We were thrilled when he recently signed on for another five years at SiriusXM," Moore says. "Otherwise, we would have run out of material."

Personal amusement aside, Moore finds the server names can serve as a litmus test for human compatibility, helping him identify potential friends or even prospective employees.

"The vast majority of people have no clue what the server names mean -- [but] when true Stern fans pick up on it, it blows their minds and there is a definite bonding experience," he says. "Anybody with both the level of Stern fan knowledge to get the references and technical knowledge to be checking out our servers is somebody I want to have a beer with."

Two McServers, to go

Ronald McDonaldflickr/sfxeric
Ronald McDonald in the Burbank Parade, 2008.

The notion of speedy serving takes on special meaning for Seth Rabinowitz. Rabinowitz, who may or may not be a fan of a brisk lunch, worked with a client who opted to name all its servers after fast food items.

Some of the company's server names: Big Mac, Milkshake, McFlurry, and -- of course -- Whopper.

"People loved the server names, even serious people you would think would've dismissed the idea," says Rabinowitz, a partner and lead consultant at the Silicon Associates consulting firm. "It was amusing to hear the extremely serious people say the names."

The tasty-sounding servers weren't entirely random: Whopper, for example, was the company's biggest machine ("supersized," if you will).

All reasoning aside, though, as you can imagine, this kind of naming convention led to some interesting conversations. Rabinowitz recalls one night when Whopper went offline and McFlurry -- its mirror -- was configured to handle its traffic. As engineers discussed the setup, one staffer started to salivate.

"[He] yelled out, 'You guys are making me hungry, [I] can't get a McFlurry right now at Mickey D's, and it's making me crazy!'" Rabinowitz recalls.

I guess creative server naming can have its downsides.

Author JR Raphael always asks his servers to hold the mayo. You can catch him on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, or at his geek-humor getaway: eSarcasm.com.

This article, "Server names put the fun in functional," was originally published at ITworld. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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