Plan for Internet directory services
RFC 1107

Document Type RFC - Informational (July 1989; No errata)
Last updated 2013-03-02
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Network Working Group                                         K. Sollins
Request for Comments:  1107       M.I.T. Laboratory for Computer Science
                                                               July 1989

                 A Plan for Internet Directory Services

                           Table of Contents

   1. Introduction                                                  1
        1.1. The Issues                                             1
        1.2. Project Summary                                        3
   2. Goals and Requirements for a White Pages Service              6
   3. Pre-existing Services                                         9
   4. Proposed Approach                                            11
        4.1. Stage 1: The Field Test                               12
        4.2. Stage 2: Implementation                               17
        4.3. Stage 3: Deployment                                   17
   5. Conclusion                                                   18

Status of this Memo

   This memo proposes a program to develop a directory service for the
   Internet.  It reports the results of a meeting held in February 1989,
   which was convened to review requirements and options for such a
   service.  This proposal is offered for comment, and does not
   represent a committed research activity of the Internet community.
   Activity in this area is anticipated, and comments should be provided
   promptly.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

1. Introduction

1.1. The Issues

   As part of the planned growth of the Internet (in particular, in
   support of the full science research community in the U.S.), an
   increasing need is anticipated for various sorts of directory
   services.  The increase in the size of the community served by the
   Internet and the burgeoning demands for electronic mail lead to the
   need for a service to find people's computer mailboxes and other
   relevant facts, a so-called "White Pages" service.  At the user level
   to date, there have been no such national or international white
   pages services in general use.  As part of building the National
   Research Network (NRN), it is important that such a service exist,
   not only within the NRN community, but also crossing the boundaries
   from the NRN to the more global network community.  This will enhance
   communication not only among computer scientists, but also among

Sollins                                                         [Page 1]
RFC 1107         A Plan for Internet Directory Services        July 1989

   scientists and engineers in other fields as well.  Also important and
   related is a so-called "Yellow Pages" service, which permits the
   location of Internet resources based on their attributes.

   A "White Pages" service is one in which one can look up people in
   order to learn information about them for finding them.  In its
   simplest form, a white pages service provides what the white pages
   telephone book provides.  Based on a name, one can find an address
   and a telephone number.  In a network environment, there may be many
   other kinds of location information, such as electronic mailbox,
   electronic calendar, or file server, where one might leave a file for
   the recipient.  In addition, the electronic white pages may support a
   much more sophisticated set of mechanisms for lookup.  One might
   match on a more complex set of attributes than first and last name.
   In addition, the searching might span more than one local white pages
   service.  There are a number of naming and directory service
   specifications and implementations in the field.  They have differing
   functionality and mechanisms to address that functionality.

   Within the the world of networking today, there are a number of
   partial solutions to the directory service problem.  Examples of
   these are the Internet Domain Naming Service (DNS), Clearinghouse,
   DECnet Network Architecture Naming Service (DNANS), Profile, and
   X.500.  The Domain Naming Service provides a directory service most
   commonly used for host naming and mail delivery.  Clearinghouse and
   DNANS are respectively the Xerox and DEC corporate naming services,
   originally for mail delivery, although having other uses as well, in
   both cases.  Profile is part of the work of Larry Peterson to explore
   descriptive naming in a non-hierarchical structure.

   There is a CCITT recommendation X.500 (ISO DIS 9594), which defines a
   general directory service.  One of its primary goals is the naming
   service needed for message handling (X.400).  While X.500 is still
   developing, and would need further evolution to cover all the
   requirements of a service for the Internet, it will have an important
   impact on the Internet community.  It will form the basis of
   commercial products, and it will almost certainly be the directory
   service of many parts of the network world, which implies a need to
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