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Table Of Contents  The TCP/IP Guide
 9  TCP/IP Application Layer Protocols, Services and Applications (OSI Layers 5, 6 and 7)
      9  Name Systems and TCP/IP Name Registration and Name Resolution
           9  Name System Issues, Concepts and Techniques

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Name System Functions: Name Space, Name Registration and Name Resolution
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Name Registration Methods, Administration and Authorities
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Name Spaces and Name Architectures (Flat and Hierarchical)
(Page 1 of 3)

The main idea of a name system is to provide a way to identify devices using symbolic names. Like any identification mechanism, before we can use the system we must define the way that identification will be performed. Numeric addressing schemes (like IP addresses) have rules for how addresses are created, and assign addresses to each device from their address space. In a similar way, devices in a name system are given names from the system's name space.

Name Space Functions

Of the three main functional components of a name system, the name space is the most abstract. It is also the most fundamental part of the system, since it actually describes how the names are created. There are several aspects to what the name space defines in a name system:

  • Name Size and Maximum Number of Names: The name space specifies the number of characters (symbols) that comprise names. In so doing, it also defines the maximum number of names that can appear in the system.

  • Name Rules and Syntax: The name space specifies what characters or symbols are allowed in a name. This is used to allow legal names to be chosen for all devices while avoiding illegal names.

  • Name Architecture and Semantics: Each name space uses a specific architecture or structure, which describes how names are constructed and interpreted.
Name Architectures

The concepts of name size and name syntax are relatively straight-forward. The last item, name architecture, is probably the most important differentiating characteristic of name systems. For this reason, name spaces are sometimes even called name architectures. The architecture of the name space determines whether names are assigned and used as a simple unstructured set of symbols, or whether they have a more complex internal structure. In the latter case, the name space also must define how elements of a particular name are related to each other.

Theoretically, many different name architectures are possible. In practice, most fall into one of two categories: flat and hierarchical architectures.

Flat Name Architecture (Flat Name Space)

Names are assigned as a sequence of symbols that are interpreted as a single, whole label without any internal structure. There is no clear relationship between any name and any other name.

An example of this sort of architecture would be a name system where computers are given unstructured names like “Engineering Workstation 1” or “Joanne's PC”, as shown in the example in Figure 232.

Figure 232: Flat Name Architecture (Flat Name Space)

This diagram shows an example of a flat name architecture. There is no structure that organizes the names or dictates how they must be constructed. Logically, each device is a peer of each of the others.


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