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6.1.2. Database Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
6.1.2. Database

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6.1.2. Database

6.1.2. Database

While name server implementations are free to use any internal data structures they choose, the suggested structure consists of three major parts:

  • A "catalog" data structure which lists the zones available to this server, and a "pointer" to the zone data structure. The main purpose of this structure is to find the nearest ancestor zone, if any, for arriving standard queries.

  • Separate data structures for each of the zones held by the name server.

  • A data structure for cached data. (or perhaps separate caches for different classes)

All of these data structures can be implemented an identical tree structure format, with different data chained off the nodes in different parts: in the catalog the data is pointers to zones, while in the zone and cache data structures, the data will be RRs. In designing the tree framework the designer should recognize that query processing will need to traverse the tree using case-insensitive label comparisons; and that in real data, a few nodes have a very high branching factor (100-1000 or more), but the vast majority have a very low branching factor (0-1).

One way to solve the case problem is to store the labels for each node in two pieces: a standardized-case representation of the label where all ASCII characters are in a single case, together with a bit mask that denotes which characters are actually of a different case. The branching factor diversity can be handled using a simple linked list for a node until the branching factor exceeds some threshold, and transitioning to a hash structure after the threshold is exceeded. In any case, hash structures used to store tree sections must insure that hash functions and procedures preserve the casing conventions of the DNS.

The use of separate structures for the different parts of the database is motivated by several factors:

  • The catalog structure can be an almost static structure that need change only when the system administrator changes the zones supported by the server. This structure can also be used to store parameters used to control refreshing activities.

  • The individual data structures for zones allow a zone to be replaced simply by changing a pointer in the catalog. Zone refresh operations can build a new structure and, when complete, splice it into the database via a simple pointer replacement. It is very important that when a zone is refreshed, queries should not use old and new data simultaneously.

  • With the proper search procedures, authoritative data in zones will always "hide", and hence take precedence over, cached data.

  • Errors in zone definitions that cause overlapping zones, etc., may cause erroneous responses to queries, but problem determination is simplified, and the contents of one "bad" zone can't corrupt another.

  • Since the cache is most frequently updated, it is most vulnerable to corruption during system restarts. It can also become full of expired RR data. In either case, it can easily be discarded without disturbing zone data.

A major aspect of database design is selecting a structure which allows the name server to deal with crashes of the name server's host. State information which a name server should save across system crashes includes the catalog structure (including the state of refreshing for each zone) and the zone data itself.


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Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
6.1.2. Database

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