Designing a Global Name Service

Butler W. Lampson


Citation: B. Lampson. Designing a global name service. Proc. 4th ACM Symposium on Principles of Distributed Computing, Minaki, Ontario, 1986, pp 1-10.

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This design was done jointly by the author, Andrew Birrell, Roger Needham and Michael Schroeder.



A name service maps a name of an individual, organization or facility into a set of labeled properties, each of which is a string. It is the basis for resource location, mail addressing, and authentication in a distributed computing system. The global name service described here is meant to do this for billions of names distributed throughout the world. It addresses the problems of high availability, large size, continuing evolution, fault isolation and lack of global trust. The non-deterministic behavior of the service is specified rather precisely to allow a wide range of client and server implementations.