The entertainment files
You know what else geeks love? Shows like Star Trek, The Simpsons, and Buffy. And you'd better believe that adoration shines through straight from Hollywood to server town.
"I’ve seen a tape library named Giles, [after] the librarian in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a multi-function printer named Odo, [after] the shape-shifter from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," says Brian Greenberg, founder of General System Dynamics. "It’s pretty funny when someone tells you that Buffy’s got a virus, or that Picard panicked, or that Homer took a dump -- core dump, that is."
Sometimes it's big-screen characters that stir up the server-naming inspiration. Thom Craver, a database specialist at the Rochester Institute of Technology, came up with a Ghostbuster-themed server strategy that includes "Peck," a statistical log server, and "Slimer," a print server.
Rob Ruehle, VP of sales at Liquid Technology, remembers encountering a series of X-Men-based server names in one of his company's hardware purchases. "Our engineers always get a kick out of the funnier ones they see," Ruehle says. "When we got in a full skid of about 20 servers all named after X-Men characters, word traveled pretty quick."
Fairy tale tech
A story doesn't have to be aimed at adults in order to strike a chord. One company found the inspiration for its server-naming strategy in a classic tale by none other than the Brothers Grimm.
The company, Infusion Brands, built its computing center around the concept of the seven dwarfs. And best of all, the whole thing happened by accident.
"It was originally one server called 'DOC,' which was an acronym for something," says Ron Rule, Infusion Brands' VP of e-commerce.
When Rule and his team started to expand, they were struck by the temperamental nature of their newly added second server -- and that led to another familiar-sounding name.
"Frankly, we were new to clustering at the time and didn't know how to set it up properly, and [we] could never get it to communicate properly with the primary [server] -- so we named it 'Grumpy,'" Rule says.
Eventually, one of Rule's colleagues noticed the Snow White connection. From there, a tradition was born, and each of the five subsequent servers received a dwarf-connected moniker. Customers never saw the names, which -- in hindsight -- Rule thinks was probably a good thing.
"It would have made for some amusing customer service calls, wondering why their data was hosted on Dopey," he says.