[OpenAFS] Choosing Cell Names (was Re: Changing AFS database server names)

Todd M. Lewis Todd_Lewis@unc.edu
Tue, 27 Jun 2006 09:13:30 -0400

Brian Sebby wrote:
> We're going to be upgrading our AFS cell in the coming months, and my boss
> has informed me that he wants to change the names of our AFS database servers
> from their current domain (which is our old department name) to our new
> server subdomain.

This question got me thinking about guidelines for picking cell names. 
I've cruised the TWiki at http://www.dementia.org/twiki/bin/view/AFSLore 
(which is back up now, and looks beautiful, btw; I must have blinked 
when that was announced), but I didn't see any topic that dealt with 
choosing a name for a new cell. 
http://openafs.org/pages/doc/AdminGuide/auagd007.htm#HDRWQ34 and 
http://openafs.org/pages/doc/AdminGuide/auagd007.htm#HDRWQ35 give a 
little guidance, but misses an important point that was brought to mind 
by Brian's question.

That point is, names change. Servers get life-cycled, departments get 
renamed, divisions get reorganized, etc. But the name of an AFS cell 
tends to find its way into the darkest corners of documentation and code 
that could take a long time to find and replace whenever one of these 
transient names transits. Changing a cell's name is not trivial, and is 
to be avoided if possible. Perhaps the best way to avoid having to 
change a cell's name is to name it well to start with.

Somebody made a good decision when our cell was named. They gave it a 
name ("isis") that didn't have anything to do with our current 
organization (except the top levels of course: "unc.edu"). The cell's 
name was its own; it didn't reflect who owned it, who ran it, or who 
used it. The initial reaction to the name was, as I recall, a collective 
question mark above everybody's heads.  But it's been a good name. 
Besides being short and easy to type, the cell's administering entity 
has undergone several reorganizations, renamings, and consolidations, 
and the user base has shifted quite a bit, all without having to 
consider renaming the cell. Although the crystal ball is rather cloudy 
at the moment, it appears that the cell's name will endure, largely 
because it's not heavily intertwingled with the transient names 
surrounding it.

Would it be worth having some text along these lines in the TWiki? I 
tend to be a bit wordy; perhaps a good editor could cut it down to about 
30 well-chosen words?
    / Todd_Lewis@unc.edu  919-445-9302  http://www.unc.edu/~utoddl /
   /    "I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter    /
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