Introduction

If you are a professional working in the Information Technology Domain you might have set up virtual machines to test different software versions, do Proofs of Concept or just use them for the ease of backup and restore.
But what name do you give those virtual machines?
As long as it are only a few, it doesn’t really matter.

Challenge

It becomes a bit of a challenge when you are have different virtual machines all with a specific setup, e.g. different versions of the same software.
Recognizable?

Solution

I want to share my naming convention that I use for virtual machines and my home network.
It is pulled together from different sources in the internet, as well as my own insight, so don’t be surprised if you see parts of other standards.

My device names consist of the following parts:
1. Device type
2. Operating System Line
3. Operating System Version
4. Separator
5. Purpose of the device
6. Sequence number

A naming convention for virtual machines and home networks

1. Device type

Minimum and maximum length

Device type is a single character.

Domain values

NAMEPARTDESCRIPTION
VVirtual Machine
SPhysical Server
LPhysical Laptop
DPhysical Desktop
CCloud Computer
PPrinter
TTablet Computer
MMobile Phone

2. Operating System Line

Minimum and maximum length

Operating System Line consists of exactly two characters.

Domain values

NAMEPARTDESCRIPTION
WSWindows Server
WCWindows Desktop/Client
LSLinux Server
LCLinux Client
OXOS X

3. Operating System Version

Minimum and maximum length

Operating System Line consists of 1 to 4 characters.

Domain values

For Windows devices use the internal version number:

NAMEPARTDESCRIPTION
51Windows Server 2003
52Windows Server 2003 R2
60Windows Server 2008
61Windows Server 2008 R2
62Windows Server 2012
63Windows Server 2012 R2
100Windows Server 2016
A “C” can be added to server versions, if the “Core” version is installed. E.g. 63C
51Windows XP
52Windows XP Professional x64
60Windows Vista
61Windows 7
62Windows 8
63Windows 8.1
100Windows 10

Get other/older versions from wikipedia.

4. Separator

Minimum and maximum length

The separator is a single character: a hyphen (-).

Domain values

Must be a hyphen (-).

5. Purpose of the device

Minimum and maximum length

Purpose of the device consists of 1 to 4 characters.

Domain values

For Servers:

NAMEPARTDESCRIPTION
DCDomain Controller
FSFile Server
PSPrint Server
WEBWeb Server
ORAOracle database
SQLSQL Server database
DBother database(s)
EXHMicrosoft Exchange
SHPMicrosoft Sharepoint
CTXCitrix Server
ESXVMware ESX Server
HVWindows Hyper-V Host

This part is optional for desktop devices.
If implemented, you could use:

NAMEPARTDESCRIPTION
STD or SStandard
DEV or DUsed for software development
GRD or GUsed for graphical design

6. Sequence number

Minimum and maximum length

The sequence number consists of 1 to 6 characters.

WIN-S01E03-image3Picture credits: © Yan Zommer | Dreamstime Stock Photos
Numbering your Windows instances.

Domain values

A sequence number making the name unique.
You can decide to make it unique based on purpose only, so you could have:
DWC61-STD001 and LWC61-STD002 (so you do not use 001 for the latter).
If you have a limited number of devices, you could put some intelligence in the number so you know which version of the ‘purpose delivering’ software is running.

Example names

EXAMPLE NAMEEXPLANATION
DWS63C-HV01Physical desktop running Windows Server 2012R2 Core, being a Hyper V Host with sequence number 01.
VWS63-SQL141Hyper V Virtual machine running Windows Server 2012R2 with SQL Server, sequence number 141 (intelligent number, indicates that it is my first virtual machine with SQL Server 2014 installed, I would use 08x for SQL 2008, 09x for SQL 2008R2, 12x for SQL 2012, you get the idea). You could use this if the number of virtual machines per SQL version is less than 10.
VWC100-DEV151Hyper V Virtual machine running Windows 10, used for development, with sequence number 151 (intelligent number, 15 indicates it’s my Visual Studio 2015 virtual machine, as I have only one of those, 151 is an excellent number).
LWC61-STD0554Physical Laptop with Windows 7, with software for a ‘standard workspace’, sequence number 0554.

WIN-S01E03-image1A real life example.

Warning/disclaimer

Do NOT use this naming convention for enterprise networks! Problems that could arise if you use it include:

  • A physical location is not part of this naming convention. In enterprise networks servers often have a physical location reference in their name.
  • The operating system is in the name. This if fine for your own lab virtual machines and home computers, but can be very inconvenient in company networks where the device name is in an inventory system. Enterprises typically do not want devices to be renamed when the Operating System is upgraded.

So.. use this naming convention only for the intended purpose, and take advantage of it.

Conclusion / Wrap up

I posted my own naming convention for virtual and physical computer devices I use “AS IS”.
I do not say it is perfect or useful in all cases.
Use the parts you think are convenient and adjust further to meet your requirements.
I would be thankful if you would like to share your adjustments with me, so I can update this post.
I discourage to use this standard in enterprise networks. For more details see the warning/disclaimer above.