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Best Practices: Computer Naming for Large Organizations

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Was wondering what best practices would be for naming computers within a large organization.

Here is what I have devised. Please see questions below each specific indicator.

Continent: XX (NA, SA, AF)
Country: XX (US, UK, FR)
Site: XX (01, 02, 10)
#: Should this be cumulative? There's a question in more detail below regarding asset numbers.

Operating System: XX (MS, LX, MB)
#: MS = Microsoft, LX = Linux, MB = Multiboot Environment. Should we be more specific in terms of LX? For example, if we use a Red Hat environment, should we use RH as opposed to LX or SU for SUSE? Are there specific abbreviations for each operating system somewhere that I could see?
Device: XX (WS, LP, PR)
#: What are the naming standards here? I have seen LP and LT for laptops, but which one makes more sense? PR is for printer but are there standards for naming desktops, laptops, printers, etc?

Asset Number: XXXX (0001, 0002, 0100, 1000)
#: What really are asset numbers? Are they cumulative? For example, if we have a computer in NA US listed as asset 0001, should our second asset in Europe build off of that to be something like 0002 or would that also be an asset of 0001 as in being the first asset of europe. For example, please see the red conflicts:

NAUS01MSWS0001
EUFR01MSWS0001

The first 01 represents the site. As questioned above, would the site be different for each country or should it build throughout the organization so people can say "I am at site 87" and then everyone knows they're in China. Whereas if there was a different site per country, they would need to say I'm at China site 04.

The same goes for the asset code, but I'm more fuzzy here since it sounds like something you would want to build throughout the company so no asset codes are the same. But it could also be the same as the site code. For example, it could be asset 0001 in US and asset 0002 in Europe, so these could possibly go by continent whereas site code goes by country. Does this make sense?


This ends up being 14 total characters and looking like: XXOOXXOOXXOOOO

Does anyone have any comments or thoughts on this?
Edited by xyeLz - 3/2/12 at 11:26am
post #2 of 9
I would recommend at least 3 digits for site, and at least 6 for asset number if using unique values.

If you want to keep the asset tags shorter though, then just doing a cumulative site index based on location and cumulative asset number based on site would be fine.

I've seen asset tags go as far as having a server ID as well.
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CHILZ - Lan Rig
(17 items)
 
CANARY - Main Rig
(16 items)
 
CADILLAC - HTPC
(14 items)
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel i5-4570s Asus H97M-Plus AMD R9 280 G.Skill RipjawsX 16 GB (2x8) 
Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveCooling
250 GB Samsung 840 240 GB Kingston 3 TB USB 3.0 Drive Custom Loop 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
Windows 10 Preview BenQ GL2450 Filco MajesTouch2 Ninja PC P&C Silencer Mk III 600 W 
CaseMouseMouse PadAudio
Fractal Design Core 1000 Mionix Castor Monoprice XXL JL Amps + Custom Morel Bookshelf speakers 
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Scythe Kama-Panel 3 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
FX-8150 @ 4.6 GHz Fatal1ty 990FX Pro 9800 GTX+ 512 MB G.Skill Ripjaws X 1866 CL9 
Hard DriveHard DriveCoolingOS
120 GB OCZ Vertex 3 1 TB WD Black 5x 120mm + MCP350 + EK Supreme HF + MicroRes Windows 8 Consumer Preview 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
2x Dell U2212HM Logitech G110 Cooler Master 850W Silent Pro Cooler Master 690 II Adv. 
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post #3 of 9
That is a pretty solid and easy to track naming scheme, but is the continent code necessary? US is obviously United States, FR would be somewhat obviously France.

Unless the locations short codes would overlap in certain instances

Our naming scheme here for the time being is, which is very limiting of course.

For Laptops
RC(Asset)-(First Initial)(Last Name) eg: RC1234-JDOE

For Desktops
RCS-(Asset)(First Initial)(Last Initial) eg: RCS-2345JD


What are you wanting the naming scheme to accomplish exactly?

As far as asset numbers, It depends. If you want to have separate starting points for different regions, US 0001 -> 9999 and UK 0001-9999
You would probably want a way to track the end user as well. So a spreadsheet of user names locations, asset#, and machine model.

If you track everything that way and have the spreadsheet uploaded to a shared resource like Sharepoint then you could simply ask for a small asset number under computer name then look them up from there.

Of course there is asset management software available that does these things for you.
Edited by PappaSmurfsHarem - 3/2/12 at 11:34am
     
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post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Continent code I suppose isn't absolutely necessary but it would allow things to be more aesthetically appealing when you can identify everything in North America (or any continent listed for that matter) simply by seeing (OC is for Oceania by the way):

ASCN01x
EUCH01x
EUFR01x
NACA01x
NAUS01x
OCAU01x
SABR01x
SACL01x

You can identify exactly which are US instead of having to reference an abbreviation book. Take China (CN) for example. Most would naturally assume China would be CH (which is Switzerland), whereas it's actually CN, and the continent code for Asia (AS) helps to identify this more. It's not a necessity, but it does make things easier. You can also take this into account when sorting the codes as it's easier to read alphabetically than this:

AU01x
BR01x
CA01x
CL01x
CH01x
CN01x
FR01x
US01x

Hope this makes more sense - but please tell me if it doesn't cause I wouldn't be here if I already knew.

I would like to use more characters, especially for digits such as site code or asset code, but from what I recall, 14 is basically the maximum before it starts getting too confusing?
post #5 of 9
nice, some really good conventions here. +rep too all thumb.gif
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post #6 of 9
It depends on how granular you want to be with that kind of thing. My work doesn't worry about the different buildings, or locations. We just keep record that XXX-D0293 or XXX-L0591 was given to X employee, or put in Y lab. You can make the name as ridiculous as you want, but either way having good records of the computers is necessary. Our records include warranty status, mac addresses, specs, any extra internal cards ( some people needed extra monitors, so we added a low power GPU).
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
That's true.

What about the difference between LP or LT for laptop?

Nevermind about the above, I was thinking about something more like this:

Instead of using WS or LP for workstation and laptop, perhaps something less distinguishing to a potential hacker but easy to recognize within the infrastructure like this:

01 = Workstation
02 = Laptop
03 = Printer

etc.

so instead of:

NAUS01MSWS0001, it would be
NAUS01MS010001

Does this make more sense?

Theoretically this numbering system could also be used for continent, country, and operating system as well, so if it doesn't make sense to use it for the device, let me know. Cause I suppose it could look like: 05010101010001 but who is gonna get that?

I mean, is the point here to make it confusing for potential attackers or make it easier for those trying to identify systems?
Edited by xyeLz - 3/6/12 at 12:51pm
post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by xyeLz View Post

That's true.
What about the difference between LP or LT for laptop?
Nevermind about the above, I was thinking about something more like this:
Instead of using WS or LP for workstation and laptop, perhaps something less distinguishing to a potential hacker but easy to recognize within the infrastructure like this:
01 = Workstation
02 = Laptop
03 = Printer
etc.
so instead of:
NAUS01MSWS0001, it would be
NAUS01MS010001
Does this make more sense?
Theoretically this numbering system could also be used for continent, country, and operating system as well, so if it doesn't make sense to use it for the device, let me know. Cause I suppose it could look like: 05010101010001 but who is gonna get that?
I mean, is the point here to make it confusing for potential attackers or make it easier for those trying to identify systems?

If these are desktops and laptops, they should be behind your firewall, and no person would even know they exist unless they've been into your infrastructure. The only computers we've had issue with hackers, are those servers that are servicing external machines (EX: our webserver). The only crap that gets on our lappys and desktops are user generated crap, like bunches of internet game downloads, or viruses. No one would even know what your computer numbers are to begin with. Another way to make sure no one can find out, separate your internal, and external DNS. We have reverse lookup for IP's for our desktops, but it's in our AD structure, so only people inside the network can even query that. The only computers that absolutely anyone could do a reverse lookup on are publicly available. The other way to do it, generic barcodes with 9 digit tags. Another college IT group I've met with identifies their computers by number, and number alone. Said number is a 9 digit barcode label they slapped on the side.

Honestly it seems like you're trying too hard to hide something that really shouldn't be an issue. As long as your security officer, and security infrastructure is well planned, and you are not freely giving out the info of who has which computer number to the public, then this should be very simple to just start a naming convention and move on. One thing I learned from being an EMT for 2 years (professionally) is something that is useful in all jobs, is to use KISS.

Keep
It
Simple
Stupid
tongue.gif


Something else to keep in mind, your users will have to tell a support person what computer they have when creating support requests. The longer it is, the higher chance of human error ( misspeaking, miswriting, etc). It's better to give them as little to do, and like I had in my previous post, keep a very good database of computers. There are numerous asset tracking softwares out there, pick one and stick with it. The end user doesn't need to know too much about their computer, and frankly, they don't care. When their company computer isn't working, they just want it fixed, and if they have to repeat a 10 character alphanumeric code to the other side, and it screws up even once on the way, they will get more agitated( i work at a private girls college, they don't care how it works, just that it works). It doesn't sound horrible, until it's an executive that has an issue. When they get mad, your boss hears about it, and then the yelling goes downhill. I see your point for record keeping, but have you ever looked into a database structure? Usually there is a table for identification, and said table will have employee 234567, name, address, hire date, and about 13 other things about that employee. Any other place in the data base that has a reference to that page, will use that employee ID only, nothing else. It's all about simplicity.

I'm not saying that trying to manage the computers and know where they are by name is horrible, but how do you know that a computer in building A will never move to building B or C in it's lifetime. Are you going to rename computers every time they move as well? Which creates even more work for a desktop support worker. Whatever you choose now will effect work for your entire IT staff the next 5 years. Just keep that in mind.
Edited by herkalurk - 3/6/12 at 5:10pm
post #9 of 9
"Something else to keep in mind, your users will have to tell a support person what computer they have when creating support requests. The longer it is, the higher chance of human error ( misspeaking, miswriting, etc)." <---- I agree

We do our network equipment something like this...

[Type of device][Site code][Office or production][Unique identifier]

Here are some examples you could use. I don't have anything to do with the end devices, but this would still work.

Type of device:
WS - workstation
LP - laptop
PR - printer

Site Code:
This could be done by city, state, province, etc...

Office / Production:
Just designate O or P if needed

Unique Identifier:
How many numbers or letters you want but keep it standard.


WSNYO0001 - Office Workstation in New York City asset #1

I would start out your naming with the type of device. If management ever asks you how many devices you have by type, this will be easy to identify. I seem to get more questions about how many access layer switches or access points we have verses devices per site. You can also use a Linux box to either grep by type of device or site code.

Whatever you decide on, always keep it the same amount of characters in case you ever have someone develop monitoring or asset management tools for you. We have thousands of pieces of network equipment globally, and this works for us.
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