Name Spaces and Name Architectures (Flat and Hierarchical)
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Comparing Name Architectures
As we will see in the next two topics, the architecture of the name space is intimately related to how names are registered and managed, and ultimately, how they are resolved as well. A flat name space requires a central authority of some sort to assign names to all devices in the system to ensure uniqueness. A hierarchical name architecture is ideally suited to a more distributed registration scheme that allows many authorities to share in the registration and administrative process.
All of this means that the advantages and disadvantages of each of these architectures are not a great mystery. Flat name spaces have the advantage of simplicity and the ability to create short and easily remembered names, as shown in Figure 232. However, they do not scale well to name systems containing hundreds or thousands of machines, due to the difficulties in ensuring each name is unique. For example, what happens if there are four people named John who all try to name their computers Johns PC? Another issue is the overhead needed to centrally manage these names.
In contrast, hierarchical name spaces are more sophisticated and flexible, because they allow names to be assigned using a logical structure. We can name our machines using a hierarchy that reflects our organizations structure, for example, and give authority to different parts of the organization to manage parts of the name space. As long as each department is named uniquely and that unique department name is part of each machine name, we dont need to worry about each assigned name being unique across the entire organization, only within the department. Thus we can have four different machines named with their department name and John, as Figure 233 demonstrates. The price of this flexibility is the need for longer names and more complexity in name registration and resolution.
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