CSU Policy: Domain Name Services

Policy Title: Domain Name Services Category: Information Technology
Owner: Vice President for Information Technology Policy ID#: 4-1018-004
Contact:
Academic Computing and Networking Services
Web: http://www.acns.colostate.edu
Phone: 970-491-5133
Original Effective Date: 12/18/1998
Last Major Revision: 11/17/2014
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PURPOSE OF THIS POLICY

The large and dramatically increasing volume of central services are taxing ACNS' human and machine resources. It is critical that these central services be maintained at the highest level of quality to support the conduct of the University's business. The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) model mandates that we do fewer things better. This policy is consistent with that model, allowing us to concentrate on maintaining very high quality, fully functional central services.

POLICY STATEMENT

Domain name service may be viewed as the Internet's analog to the ordinary telephone directory, which associates names, address and phone numbers. Just as the US Postal service requires an address to deliver mail, the Internet requires an address to deliver information to computers. The Internet uses a dual naming/numbering scheme for addressing. The reason for two schemes is that people remember names better than numbers, while the routers and switches on the Internet deliver information using numbers. Functionally, people use names to indicate a destination, and these must be converted into numbers to ensure delivery. This simple function, translating Internet names into Internet numbers and vice versa, is performed by Domain Name Service, or DNS.

Specifically, each computer has both a name and a numerical address. For example, a specific computer is named g3.acns.colostate.edu, and numbered 129.82.100.82. The names and numbers are reversed in order and hierarchical. The university's Internet domain name is colostate.edu, at the end of the name, and our Internet address is 129.82, at the beginning of our number. The subnet, or local area network on which the machine resides, is defined as acns and has the number 100. The computer is numbered 82 and named g3.

As an example, consider someone at MIT sending mail to bg3.colostate.edu. The first thing to occur is that the program at MIT handling email sends a request to the local name server at MIT to "look up" (i.e. return the address of) g3.acns.colostate.edu. The local name server at MIT then contacts the closest top-level domain server (at the worldwide level), and requests the address of the name server responsible for colostate.edu. Since we have authority for our Internet domain (it is possible for another site to provide this service), the address of our name server 129.82.100.64 is returned. The program responsible for e -mail at MIT then sends a request to our name server, 129.82.100.64, for the address of g3.acns.colostate.edu. Our name server then returns 129.82.100.82 as the address of g3.colostate.edu. Then, the program responsible for email at MIT sends out the electronic mail message, everywhere replacing the name g3.colostate.edu with the address 129.82.100.82, so that destination "address" is numerical and compatible with routers and switches on the Internet. Note that the reverse process also occurs. For example, a computer may request "reverse domain name lookup," where the number address is known and must be converted into a name.

Every Internet name and address must be unique to avoid confusion of where to deliver the information. To maintain uniqueness, a central authority to oversee names and addresses exists, from which Internet Domain Names and associated Internet numbers or addresses can be purchased, provided they are available, i.e. that they have not already been purchased. The InterNIC (Internet Network Information Center) is currently tasked with this effort. Note that 129.82 and colostate.edu are "owned" uniquely by Colorado State University, and that we have identified Stew McPherson of ACNS as the technical contact for issues involving domain name service and Pat Burns as the administrative contact. This domain name, colostate.edu, and our domain address, 129.82, allow us to connect up to 65,534 computers. Currently, we provide domain name service for over 15,000 names of computers under the name colostate.edu, although not all are now being used but have been "reserved" for future use. This provides these computers with full network functionality.

Many are now purchasing their own Internet domains for the modest fee of $50 per year. Individuals obtain their own domain names for advertising purposes, and this is becoming increasingly popular. In fact, in the month of November 1998, ACNS received four requests to perform such name service. All such name service does is associate an Internet name with a number; it is not necessary for functionality as ACNS provides the same service under colostate.edu, and ACNS will establish a subdomain under colostate.edu for any CSU entity that so desires.

Requests for separate name service, not under colostate.edu, introduce additional workload and complexity into our central environment. In addition to setup work, the workload is ongoing in that every time a new machine is brought into the subdomain, additional requests need to be processed by ACNS. The growing number of these requests gives us pause for concern. Indeed, the InterNIC has requested that CSU consider not providing name service for other than colostate.edu, and feel that the domain name environment nationally is growing too complex for their comfort level. ACNS concurs with this analysis.

Also, ACNS currently has no way of supplying correct reverse domain name service for machines numbered 129.82, as if a computer's number begins with 129.82, we always return colostate.edu as the domain name. Therefore, if ACNS were to supply domain name service to computers with addresses of 129.82 for a domain name other than colostate.edu, although the forward lookup (i.e. given a name, look up a number) would function correctly, the reverse lookup (i.e. given a number, look up a name) would not. At present, ACNS knows of no technical solution for this problem.

The large and dramatically increasing volume of central services are taxing ACNS' human and machine resources. It is critical that these central services be maintained at the highest level of quality to support the conduct of the University's business. The Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) model mandates that we do fewer things better. This policy is consistent with that model, allowing us to concentrate on maintaining very high quality, fully functional central services.

POLICY PROVISIONS

ACNS will maintain domain names and subdomains only under the colostate.edu domain.

APPROVALS

Approved by ITEC on December 18, 1998

 

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