Stanford NetDB About
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NetDB is a key element in the operation of the Stanford University network and has been for many years. NetDB consists of a database with web and command-line interfaces. The NetDB database contains information on the network's physical components, such as host computers, workstations, terminal servers, and routers. Users use the NetDB web and command-line interfaces to keep the data in NetDB up to date. The information in NetDB is used to generate configuration information for important network services.

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 IP address for each networked computer.

  • NetDB gives central networking staff and departmental network administrators 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 DNS and DHCP. It also has a whois interface for looking up node information.

NetDB Strengths

  • Because of NetDB's natural "human view" of the network, users can learn how to use NetDB in 15 minutes, with almost no followup support.

  • NetDB's granular access control allows users direct control of their hosts' DNS and DHCP setup and inventory data without affecting other administrators' hosts.

  • The extended information stored in NetDB along with NetDB's logging and search capabilities makes it a valuable configuration control system.

  • The NetDB database is highly normalized, allowing for flexible reporting.

  • NetDB can be had for no money. NetDB and most of the packages it depends on are free software. It does depend on an Oracle database, but you can still try NetDB without buying software using the free Oracle Express Edition. Also the paid versions of Oracle are free to download and use for "developing, testing, prototyping and demonstrating your application" according to the click-through license at the Oracle download site. That should be enough for a NetDB evaluation and, let's face it, if you decide to use NetDB you'll want to run it on a paid up, supported version of Oracle.

Is NetDB right for me?

  • NetDB is an enterprise-class system. At Stanford, hundreds of NetDB users manage thousands of subnets and over half a million IP addresses. Such a system can never be as simple as one would wish, so NetDB requires a non-trivial amount of work to set up (heck, setting up Oracle is non-trivial).

  • If you're using your favorite editor to manage 512 IP addresses, NetDB is probably overkill. If you manage more than a couple thousand computers or IP addresses or you have more than 4 or 5 people managing them, NetDB is for you. If you're somewhere in-between you still might benefit from NetDB.


  • Stanford is pleased to provide the NetDB source under the terms of the GNU General Public License version 2. Click here to go to the downloads page.

Updated: June 19, 2017