MILNET name domain transition
RFC 1031

Document Type RFC - Unknown (November 1987; No errata)
Last updated 2013-03-02
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Networking Working Group                                       W. Lazear
Request for Comments: 1031                                         MITRE
                                                           November 1987



   This RFC consolidates information necessary for the implementation of
   domain style names throughout the DDN/MILNET Internet community.
   Although no official policy has been published, the introduction of
   domain style names will impact all hosts in the DDN/MILNET Internet.
   The RFC is designed as an aid to implementors and administrators by
   providing 1) an overview of the transition process from host tables
   to domains, 2) a potential timetable for the transition, and 3)
   references to documentation and software relating to the DDN/ARPANET
   domain system.  Distribution of this RFC is unlimited.


   All MILNET hosts are expected to have a way of translating the name
   of any other host into its Internet address.  Although the current
   method of name resolution is to look up the information in a table of
   all hosts, this method of operation is cumbersome and relies on a
   central point of information.  The Network Information Center (NIC)
   maintains a table of hosts registered in the MILNET Internet and
   their addresses.  The size of this table and the frequency of updates
   has reached the limits of manageability.  The central host table is
   FTP'd by a host on a timely basis from the NIC, processed locally (to
   pare or reformat the table), and used in name resolution.

   The domain system uses a distributed database and software to perform
   the same functions as the host table.  In this system, host resolvers
   query domain servers for name resolution.  They may cache answers for
   performance improvement.  The domain servers each maintain a portion
   of the hierarchical database under separate administrative authority
   and control.  Redundancy is obtained by transferring data between
   cooperating servers.

   The domain system has been operating successfully on the ARPANET for
   over a year.  One indication of success is that the NIC's central
   host table is no longer a complete list (i.e., ARPANET does not
   depend primarily on the host table).  The domain system is being
   implemented on the MILNET with DoD military standard protocols.  The
   first step in changing to the domain system has been taken, as
   required by DDN Management Bulletin #32 (22 Jan 1987).  All host

Lazear                                                          [Page 1]
RFC 1031                MILNET DOMAIN TRANSITION           November 1987

   names were converted from a simple, flat namespace to a structured
   name consistent with domains.  In the second step, servers acting as
   the root of the database hierarchy were put in place.  In the next
   step, hosts are moving away from host table usage.


   All hosts will not change from host table to domain server usage at
   one time.  Accordingly, three stages of conversion to the domain
   system are envisaged.  These stages roughly correspond to 1)
   continuing to use the host table for all applications, 2) using the
   domain system for only some applications, and 3) using the domain
   system for all applications.  These stages will exist simultaneously
   as various hosts convert their application software according to
   available resources.  The following paragraphs discuss these stages
   in more detail.

   Host Table Only

      In the first stage, a host depends entirely on the host table for
      name resolution.  The table is obtained from the NIC's central
      copy and the resolution is done by local table scanning.  Most
      hosts are in this stage.

      Certain hosts may find it infeasible ever to convert to the domain
      system, owing to older architectures, unchangeable software, or
      other considerations.  At the end of the conversion period, the
      NIC will stop maintaining an internet host table.  To continue
      operations, hosts that do not convert will need to obtain an
      equivalent of the host table from some source.  This source may be
      another host with which a bilateral agreement has been negotiated
      offline, a community-of-interest host acting as central repository
      for that community, or a locally-maintained table of host names
      and addresses.  Transfer of the table from the source is a matter
      of local implementation and bilateral agreements.

   Domain System and Host Table

      In the second stage, a host will use both the host table and the
      domain system.  A likely scenario is that applications like TELNET
      and FTP will use the domain system and that MAIL will continue to
      use the host table for name resolution.  An alternate scenario is
      that batchstyle applications like MAIL would use the domain system
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