guideline for name-based web hosting justification

Ted Pavlic tpavlic at
Thu Sep 14 23:51:04 EDT 2000

> My tiny business caters almost exclusively to small businesses; in my
> case all those services (with the exception of SSL), are part of the
> standard package.  In other words, people don't pay anything at all
> extra for them.  They pay $10/month to get it all.  Frequently there are
> services that are part of the package that they don't use, at least not
> initially.

I think many providers have very similar packages; many offer FrontPage
Server Extension support to their users as well. FPSE requires more than a
bit more extra work to get them to work with name-based hosts.

> A great many small ISPs offer essentially the same kind of a package --
> own host on the internet.

This is true... And large ISPs require a great deal of automation as well.
In order for a large ISP to manage virtual hosts that are combinations of
name-based and IP-based causes a lot of extra stress.

Before I could create a database of virtual hosts and dump them to a
configuration file regularly...

Now some of my virtual hosts have to be IP based and, currently, those have
been entered into a configuration file manually. I'll have to add extra
logic to account for:

* Those virtual hosts that do not require anything unique
* Those virtual hosts which can be name-based, but cannot be mass virtual
* Those virtual hosts which have SSL or some other service which requires
IP-based hosting

While all of this can be done... It's a great deal of work to setup a clean
system which works for everyone -- plus deal with converting FrontPage SE, a
horrible package in general. The time it takes me to deal with this takes a
great deal of time away from other projects which require my almost
immediate attention.

Now if all the technology was already in place, things would be a lot

Also note that even the largest ISPs aren't using close to one quarter of
the IPs that the largest cable providers are. I really don't think it was a
good idea to throw this on the ISPs first. It just seems like the big
problem has been overlooked.

> By default, I assign an IP address to every such customer.  To do
> otherwise would be simply stupid -- converting someone from a name-based
> web site to an IP based web site is not much work, but it is the same
> amount of work as setting up the site in the first place, and the real
> cost is the human intervention of making the change.

And changing from name-based to IP-based (or vice-versa) requires a certain
amount of downtime. While all the DNS changes are easily made at the
provider, all of the DNS servers on the Internet have to wait a certain time
period in order for their records to timeout. A site has to be both IP-based
and name-based during this (usually 24 hour) period or the site will be down
for a good deal of the users.

> What I think is fundamentally flawed with the new policy, from the point
> address, or of maintaining.

I have a problem with the policy regulating explicitly "webhosters." To me,
the web is made up of a lot more than just HTTP. I think it would have been
a better idea to regulate HTTP hosters... People who just provide simple
HTTP services could make the easy change and not worry much about it.
Regulating the entire web causes this great deal of argument about exactly
what is an exception and what is not. It's ridiculous.

> I may not be expressing this well, but to back up a level, it seems to
> changes at another level.

Personally, I would worry that these changes would decrease the QoS at each
webhoster causing its clients to spread out among much smaller webhosters
around the Internet that are still allowed to do IP-based webhosting because
they have a /24 or less. Eventually, all of the IPs that were saved will
just be allocated again -- just among a great deal more providers.

To me a few things have to happen...

*) The cable providers **NEED** to be regulated! @Home's 2.3 million IPs are
ridiculous -- they do not need that many IPs. Even if they were to give back
HALF of those IPs, that'd be TWICE the amount of IPs Verio has TOTAL.

*) IP needs to be changed... Either IPv6 needs to be pushed into place (ha
ha)... Or IPv4 needs to be changed. PERHAPS a decent idea would be to create
a second set of 4 (or 6 even) byte addresses and a new name-server
configuration. That is, all websites given to a particular webhost would
lookup to one IP which would go to that webhost. Each browser would then
lookup the name at another name registry that would give each specific
webhost its own identifier. That identifier (some numeric value again -- 4
or 6 bytes) could be stored as another word in the IP header. Different
servers could then use that information to route name-based sites to the
appropriate place... This is just one idea off the top of my head -- perhaps
it's not too viable -- but changes need to be put in place. Right now we
have the ability to work with the amount of IPs we have, we just need the
technology to actually do it.

*) xDSL providers need to be looked at. Most of the DSL providers I know of
are providing static IPs to each of their customers by default.

*) ARIN (and IANA) needs to improve their communication. I really think that
only certain interests were represented in this decision... (i.e. cable
Internet providers)

At least that's what I think, I could be wrong.

All the best --

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