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