Best practices for network interface naming conventions

For Windows Servers admins, it's extremely annoying when you cannot determine which interface is which based on network names. Rick Vanover presents strategies for network naming practices.

There is nothing more frustrating than logging into a Windows Server and seeing interfaces named Local Area Connection, Local Area Connection 2, and Local Area Connection 3 and not knowing which is which. Since Windows 2000 Server, we've been able to give names to interfaces. This has enabled us to do a few things, including using an icon to identify the Active Directory domain connection (only Windows 2008) within Group Policy and using clear names for interfaces. The best way to name a network interface is to make something that is self-documenting, repeatable, and easy to understand.

Figure A identifies a server with two interfaces: one on a production Ethernet network and another on an iSCSI storage network. Figure A

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This example is right out of my personal lab, which is a small environment; larger environments may have trouble using such simple names, but there are other network interface naming strategies.

Here is a simple approach that can work for almost any environment for operating system names: role, network, media, and node. So, let's take an example of an interface that is on a production network, addressed as VLAN 33 ( network for example), used copper and is the first node. That example would be represented as PROD-33-COPPER-1. For this example, let's change it to be a virtual machine: PROD-33-VM-1. For a storage network, similar strategies can apply, such as: SAN-33-COPPER-1. Figure B shows how I can represent the two networks from Figure A a little more clearly. Figure B

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In these simple steps, the network interfaces are much more clearly named and intuitively laid out. Other strategies, such as denoting a crossover, cluster, 10 GB, or other configuration, can easily be rolled into the nomenclature standard that is used.

What strategies do you employ to name Windows server network interfaces? Let us know in the discussion.

About Rick Vanover

Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.

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