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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 Overview and Motivation
(Page 3 of 3)

Factors That Determine the Necessity of a Name System

It's much easier to remember the names of resources; when a name system is implemented, you just enter the name of a device and the name system converts it to an address, as shown in Figure 230. This is why name systems are so important, even if they aren't needed by the networking technologies themselves. (In fact, the reliance on name systems like DNS is so significant that many people don't even realize they can enter IP addresses into their Web browsers!)


Figure 230: Internetwork Access With A Name System

When an internetwork is equipped with a name system, the user no longer needs to know the address of a device to access it. He or she enters the name and the name system converts it into an address automatically, like a computerized “rolodex”, as I have shown here. J The name system then passes the address to the client software which uses that address to access the requested resource as if the user had entered it directly.

 


More generally, the importance of a name system depends greatly on the characteristics of the network upon which it is used. The three main issues in determining the need for a name system are:

  • Network Size: If you have a really small network with only a handful of computers, having human users remember the numeric addresses for these machines is at least feasible, if not ideal. For example, a small home network with two or three machines doesn't really need a name system, in theory. If you have thousands or millions of devices, however, the name system becomes essential.

  • Address Size and Complexity: The more complex the numeric addressing scheme, or the larger the numbers used, the more difficult it is for humans to remember the numbers.

  • User Base Size and Skill: In the early days of networks, a small number of highly-skilled and well-trained engineers used them, and these people sometimes just memorized the numbers of the machines they worked with every day. In modern networks with thousands or millions of “lay” users, expecting the average person to remember device numbers is not reasonable.

Looking at these issues, we can see that the trends in today’s networks are all in the direction of increasing the importance of name systems. Our networks, both private and public, are growing larger, and we have more people using them, including more people without a technical background. We are also increasingly moving from small addresses to larger ones. The best example of this is the upcoming change to the Internet Protocol. While DNS is important for the 32-bit addresses used in IP version 4, it's even more important for dealing with the enormous 128-bit addresses of IP version 6.

Key Concept: Networking name systems are important because they allow devices to be assigned efficient numeric addresses, while still enabling humans to access them using names that are easier to remember. Name systems become more important as you increase the size of the network, the address or the user base. They are also more essential when the user base is limited in skill or experience.



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Name System Issues, Concepts and Techniques
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Name System Functions: Name Space, Name Registration and Name Resolution
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