NetDB is a key element in the operation of the Stanford University Network (SUNet). NetDB consists of a database, a web front-end and a command-line front-end. The NetDB database contains information on SUNet's physical components, such as host computers, workstations, terminal servers, and routers. The NetDB web and command-line interfaces are used by Local Network Administrators (LNAs) to update the NetDB database. The information in NetDB is used to generate configuration information for several important network support functions.

NetDB Functions

  • NetDB is a model of the network. The database contains information about all the components and their relationships.

  • NetDB provides a way of registering a unique name and Internet Protocol (IP) address for each networked computer. Entering these unique elements is required before a computer can operate on SUNet.

  • NetDB gives LNAs and Networking staff a way to keep track of networked computers, providing for the storage of a wide range of information. NetDB includes search and reporting capabilities for extracting this information.

  • NetDB provides input to various network software services, such as the Domain Name System (DNS), the SUNet DHCP service, and the SUNet Whois service.

    • Domain Name System (DNS)

      DNS is used throughout the Internet to allow network users to look up information about named objects. In order to initiate a connection to a computer using its name, a record listing that computer's name and IP address needs to be present in the DNS database.

      The DNS database for Stanford is generated from NetDB periodically. Each time it's generated, the DNS database is distributed to the campus name servers. In general, changes made in NetDB will be usable by network programs within 10 minutes after the next scheduled DNS generation.

    • SUNet DHCP Service

      DHCP specifies a method for computers to download their basic network configuration information from a server rather than storing the information themselves. This allows LNAs to maintain configuration information in a central place and change this information without visiting user's computers.

      A DHCP configuration database is created from NetDB information and is loaded on several DHCP servers. A client computer sends out a DHCP request containing its DHCP client identifier, usually its Ethernet hardware address. A server sees the request, looks up the hardware address in its database, and responds with the computer's IP address and other configuration data.

      When an entry that specifies the use of DHCP is added to NetDB, the DHCP configuration database is updated within 15 minutes. This allows new computers to be attached to SUNet without ever needing local configuration.

    • Whois Service

      The Whois database service provides an online directory of Stanford faculty, students, staff, and networked computers. This service can be accessed from any computer connected to the Internet. NetDB records provide input to the Whois database on networks and networked computers.

NetDB is Free Software NetDB documentation