Introduction:

While many organizations start out naming their devices as Greek gods or fictional characters, it's not scalable in a large organization.

It's better to have a solid naming convention set up than it is to run out of Greek gods when your business starts to bloom.

In this design process, you'll create your own naming conventions for your IT assets that is scalable, readable, standardized and flexible.

To illustrate, here are some diagrams of example naming conventions.

Device42 Device Naming Convention:

Read on to create your own, or check out this introductory video for more information.

Creating your convention:

Every organization can have its own naming convention. The complexity and variability depends on the size of the organization and its number of devices.

In this section, you'll create a robust and scalable naming convention for an organization of any size.

Decide on the key for device location

Depending on your organization’s size, you might have offices and devices spread out through multiple cities, states, countries, and buildings in the same complex. First, decide on the first two letters of your naming convention. These can reference the city or office complex the device is located in. For example:

  • LA (Los Angeles)
  • AZ (Arizona)
  • IL (1, Infinite Loop)

The next step is to decide on the third letter. This will be code for the particular building where the device is located.

For each office with devices and multiple buildings, either use existing an existing key or label the buildings A-Z. For offices with single buildings, use just A as a placeholder in case of later expansion. For example:

  • A = block A
  • B = block B

So far, the prefix for any device located in your Los Angeles office in block A would be:

LAA

Add a type section to your device name (optional)

If necessary, you can also use a letter to define the type of device.

Virtualization Review recommends the following:

  • V: (Virtual)
  • C: (Cluster server)
  • P: (Physical)
  • O: (Outsourced or vendor supported system)

A physical device located in block A of the Los Angeles office would start with:

LAAP

Use a delimiter before the variable portion

To improve readability of the device name, use a delimiter to separate the device location from its other specifics.

The standard delimiter to separate the first half of the name (location, type, team) from the second half (purpose, user, unique ID) is a dash: -

In case your system doesn’t support a dash, you can use another standard character such as # or $.

Example name using the process so far:

LAAP- (A physical device in the A block of your Los Angeles office, with a delimiter in the name)

In the next step, you’ll add information to the 2nd half of the name to make the name unique and more descriptive.

Add the device’s primary purpose to the variable portion

Decide on the primary purpose of all named devices, and their abbreviations.

For example:

  • DC: Domain Controller
  • FS: File Server
  • PS: Print Server
  • ORA: Oracle database
  • SQL: SQL database
  • DB: other database(s)
  • EXH: Microsoft Exchange
  • CTX: Citrix Server
  • ESX: VMware ESX Server

For more ideas on efficient device purpose names, see this article from University of Waterloo.

LAAP-FS

Use a unique 2-digit ID as the last two characters

Office buildings could have multiple physical databases, so it’s important that they are all labelled with a unique ID number.

For example, there can’t be two physical database 01s in your Los Angeles block A (LAAP-FS01) — so you name the 2nd one LAAP-FS02.

Copy your new company device name from this task

Using the form fields in this process, you will have built out your company device name. Find it below:

{{form.Input_device_location_code_(ex:_LAA)}}{{form.Input_device_type_code_(ex:_V,_C,_P,_O,_etc.)}}-{{form.Input_device_purpose_code_(ex:_DB)}}{{form.Input_unique_2-digit_ID}}

Validating your convention:

Some systems have specific requirements for naming conventions. For example, Active Directory doesn't allow device names over 15 characters, and some systems have problems with special characters.

In this section, we'll make sure the name is valid with the system you use.

Check the name is unique

A naming convention that allows for duplicates is useless. Use a spreadsheet or text pad to identify duplicate lines in your device name list.

Check the name is alphanumeric, if required

In cases where your system doesn't support non alpha-numeric characters, you may have to remove delimiters and other special characters.

Check the name has no spaces

Spaces cause problems with most systems.

Adjusting your convention for personal devices:

Naming conventions can't be one-size-fits-all for every organization. In some cases, you might need to adjust the convention to allow for personal devices (like Joe Bloggs' mobile phone) as well as company devices (like Infinite Loop's C Block Server #43).

The following section will help you adapt your naming convention to allow for both devices.

Use a unique username

Instead of a device’s primary purpose after the delimiter, use the username of the device’s owner, then use the last two characters of the name to specify which kind of device is being named.

For example:

LAAP-BenB-LT

Where BenB is the username, and LT refers to the user’s laptop.

Suggestions for usernames include:

  • First name, last initial (BenB)
  • First initial, last name (BBrandall)
  • First initial, middle initial, last name (BenJBrandall)

Add a delimiter

After the username, another dash should be used to separate the user from the device:

LAAP-BBrandall-PC-02

     ^

Add a device type code

Since personal devices are assigned to users, not just physical locations, a username should be tied to the code of a specific device type. Multiple devices of the same type can be identified with a 2-digit suffix.

Suggestions for device codes include:

  • LT (Laptop)
  • PC (Desktop computer)
  • 3D (3D Printer)
  • MO (Mobile phone)
  • PJ (Projector)
  • DP (Desk phone)

For Benjamin Brandall's 2nd PC in the Los Angeles Office Block A, the name would be:

LAAP-BBrandall-LT02

Copy your new personal device name from this task

The name below is aggregated from the form fields so far in the process:

{{form.Input_device_location_code_(ex:_LAA)}}{{form.Input_device_type_code_(ex:_V,_C,_P,_O,_etc.)}}-{{form.Input_device_user's_username_(RogerSmith)}}-{{form.Add_personal_device_type_code_(ex._LT,_PJ,_etc.)}}{{form.Input_unique_2-digit_ID_for_the_personal_device}}

Sources:

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