Creative Server-Naming Conventions

Readers reflect back to the days when naming their servers involved imagination and the ability to possess a sense of humor.

When we asked Redmond readers to report their most creative server naming conventions, many gave us names from jobs long past. Because IT has a higher profile these days, most companies have server naming conventions that make some sort of sense—in other words, they're no fun at all. Several respondents also pointed out that publicizing your server naming conventions could lead to security vulnerabilities. "Shame on you for asking! Now be gone while I get back to petting my firewall."

OK, we get the picture. So we're withholding crucial identifying information (gee, that was easy) from these gems submitted by kind souls who share our love of total nonsense, while hoping the day will come when we can collectively lighten up.

10. Holy Crappie
Over the years, one Kansas City-based reader has seen naming conventions based on actors, monsters and eventually, fish. "Bass, Grouper (Lotus Notes, of course), Pike and so on. We were a Dell shop, so when we were forced to install a Compaq server for Citrix access from other sites, that server was dubbed 'Crappie!'"

9. You Cannot Be Serious! 9. "You Cannot Be Serious!"
Stephen Platt started naming servers for great tennis players, such as Williams, Agassi, Connors and Graf. "After all, they're 'servers,'" he says. "We were going to use McEnroe, but we didn't want a server that blew up all the time."

8. Lunchtime Musings
A network engineer whose identity I have chosen to protect for his own good says, "We have named servers based on how we feel after eating in the company cafeteria: Queasy, Smelly, Squishy, Rotten and Whatisit. Of these, Queasy is still in production after four years. The rest have been thrown out with the other leftovers."

7. Inmates Runing the Asylum
"Before we were taken over by a company with absolutely no imagination, all of our servers and printers were given names related to Monty Python's Flying Circus," says one contributor who preferred to remain anonymous. "Our newest printer was named Asylum, referring to the work conditions prevalent at the time."

6. Lasting Impressions
"I started naming my office network based on my impressions of Microsoft at that time (and maybe still)," says Kerry Erb, who runs his own computer service business. Choice examples include:

  • Domain controllers: Pompous and Audacious
  • Servers: Grandiose, Braggard, Blowhard and Goliath
  • Workstations: Pretentious, Gargantuan, Bloated and Ostentatious.

5. Chardonnay with that Gruyere?
Mike Piontkowski of Irvine, Calif., had a client that named all of its infrastructure servers after cheeses. "Not only was it tough to remember the function of each because the name had no correlation, but it was difficult to spell and say some of them, like Camembert, Gouda and Gruyere," he says. "It would have been nice if they named their printers after wines."

4. Elvis Lives4. Elvis Lives
One anonymous contributor worked for a client that had a server named Elvis. "Whenever the server was pinged, it responded with 'Elvis is alive.'"

3. Admins Behaving Badly
Tim Hoekstra used to work in "a pretty loose shop," that had wide discretion in terms of server names. They abused it admirably, naming servers after beers, including Becks and Tecate. "But my favorite two servers were our WINS servers: Crash and Burn."

2. Hello, Newman
In addition to dead presidents, Matthew Woods, a network admin in Chicago, says his company's servers are named after Seinfeld characters: "Jerry, Elaine, Kramer, Costanza and Newman—the mail server, of course!"

1. Imagine the Possibilities
Douglas Peters, senior network technician with Examination Management Services Inc., in Waco, Texas, gets my vote for most creative name—even if he's never used it. "I've always wanted to name a server 'MyPants,' just to hear the users shout 'MyPants is down!'"

About the Author

Paul Desmond, the founding editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine, is president of the IT publishing firm PDEdit in Southborough, Mass. Reach him at paul@pdedit.com.

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Reader Comments:

Thu, Jul 26, 2012

It occurred to me at a previous job that nobody had more "control" over their "domain" than did the Caesars of the Roman Empire. So the Active Directory domain controllers were named Julius, Octavian, Claudius and Nero.

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 Jay Reston, VA

We use names of capitals; not exciting, but easy to remember and educational. National capitals (Paris, Oslo, Delhi, etc.) are used for the primary servers. State capitals (Annapolis, Richmond, etc.) are for minor servers and test systems. Our main domain controller is Paris and the primary backup is Berlin. That way, if Paris falls, Berlin takes over. Our larger printers are called coffee and tea. The smaller ones are called sugar, cream and honey. Oh yeah, our HP plotter is called HarryPlotter.

Fri, May 28, 2010

I used to work in the Active Directory support group at Microsoft. In talking to the customers, I got to hear all sorts of naming conventions, from superheros, to characters from Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, to Simpsons characters. But the one that stood out was the medical processing lab that named their servers after venereal diseases. That case took about a week to work, and it was fun explaining about how Clamidia and Gonorrhea were not replicating, and how syphilis was causing problems.

Fri, Jan 29, 2010 jokerfest

We had all our servers based on Dilbert characters. Dilbert was the main production server. Wally was the SQL server. Dogbert and Catbert were the two terminal servers, with Ratbert as the backup TS. :)

Sun, Dec 6, 2009 rockinthesixstring

I think one should name a server "YourMom" - Your Mom went down on me again -I just turned on Your Mom

Tue, Nov 14, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

I can looking for some serious stuff, but stayed back and enjoyed this.

Thu, May 18, 2006 Michael North Carolina

Worked for a company that named all of their Lotus Notes servers after Lord of the Rings characters. Strider and the like were easy to remember, but when it came to names like Evenstar, they got pretty complex.

Mon, Oct 24, 2005 WebTek Charlotte, NC

Being a part of the Performing Arts, when I arrived at this company, they had servers named after the King Arthur days such as, Mordred, Uther, Lanelot, Merlin...etc... Now we just call em PAC???? whaever their primary function is such as PACMAIL, etc... Booorrrinnngggg

Fri, Oct 21, 2005 Cary Fleming Dallas, TX

After I became the official network administrator instead of just the guy doing the work I started getting a little more creative naming the servers. Our web server is Charlotte, our anti-virus and spam-filtering server is Doctor and our NAS is TheVault.

Fri, Oct 21, 2005 Anonymous Anonymous

I am familiar with a company that named their servers after astronomical objects (pluto, nebula, nova, etc.) One of their techs told me that while they decided it best not to do so, they always wanted to name a server after one particular planet that way when a user was looking for a file they could tell them "did you check uranus"?

Fri, Oct 21, 2005 TGabriel Jacksonville,FL

We had two Sun systems that were primary and secondary. The primary system was Monica, the secondary system was Bill. The point was that the only time Bill would come up, was when Monca went down. :-)

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