Referral Whois (RWhois) Protocol V1.5
RFC 2167

Document Type RFC - Informational (June 1997; No errata)
Obsoletes RFC 1714
Last updated 2013-03-02
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Network Working Group                                      S. Williamson
Request for Comments: 2167                                    M. Kosters
Obsoletes: RFC 1714                                            D. Blacka
Category: Informational                                         J. Singh
                                                             K. Zeilstra
                                                 Network Solutions, Inc.
                                                               June 1997

                 Referral Whois (RWhois) Protocol V1.5

Status of this Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  This memo
   does not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of
   this memo is unlimited.

Abstract

   This memo describes Version 1.5 of the client/server interaction of
   RWhois.  RWhois provides a distributed system for the discovery,
   retrieval, and maintenance of directory information. This system is
   primarily hierarchical by design. It allows for the deterministic
   routing of a query based on hierarchical tags, referring the user
   closer to the maintainer of the information. While RWhois can be
   considered a generic directory services protocol, it distinguishes
   itself from other protocols by providing an integrated, hierarchical
   architecture and query routing mechanism.

1. Introduction

   Early in the development of the ARPANET, the SRI-NIC established a
   centralized Whois database that provided host and network information
   about the systems connected to the network and the electronic mail
   (email) addresses of the users on those systems [RFC 954]. The
   ARPANET experiment evolved into a global network, the Internet, with
   countless people and hundreds of thousands of end systems. The sheer
   size and effort needed to maintain a centralized database
   necessitates an alternate, decentralized approach to storing and
   retrieving this information.

Williamson, et. al.          Informational                      [Page 1]
RFC 2167                    RWhois Protocol                    June 1997

   The original Whois function was to be a central directory of
   resources and people on ARPANET. However, it could not adequately
   meet the needs of the expanded Internet. RWhois extends and enhances
   the Whois concept in a hierarchical and scaleable fashion. In
   accordance with this, RWhois focuses primarily on the distribution of
   "network objects", or the data representing Internet resources or
   people, and uses the inherently hierarchical nature of these network
   objects (domain names, Internet Protocol (IP) networks, email
   addresses) to more accurately discover the requested information.

   RWhois synthesizes concepts from other, established Internet
   protocols. The RWhois protocol and architecture derive a great deal
   of structure from the Domain Name System (DNS) [RFC 1034] and borrow
   directory service concepts from other directory service efforts,
   primarily [X.500]. The protocol is also influenced by earlier
   established Internet protocols, such as the Simple Mail Transport
   Protocol (SMTP) [RFC 821].

   This RWhois specification defines both a directory access protocol
   and a directory architecture. The directory access protocol
   specifically describes the syntax of the client/server interaction.
   It describes how an RWhois client can search for data on an RWhois
   server, or how the client can modify data on the server. It also
   describes how the server is to interpret input from the client, and
   how the client should interpret the results returned by the server.
   The architecture portion of this document describes the conceptual
   framework behind the RWhois protocol. It details the concepts upon
   which the protocol is based and describes its structural elements.
   The protocol implements the architecture.

   This document uses language like SHOULD and SHALL that have special
   meaning as specified in "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
   Requirement Levels". [RFC2119]

Williamson, et. al.          Informational                      [Page 2]
RFC 2167                    RWhois Protocol                    June 1997

2. Architecture

2.1 Overview

   As a directory service, RWhois is a distributed database, where data
   is split across multiple servers to keep database sizes manageable.
   The architecture portion of this document details the concepts upon
   which the protocol is based and describes its structural elements.
   Specifically, the architecture is concerned with how the data is
   split across the different servers. The basis of this splitting is
   the lexically hierarchical label (or tag), which is a text string
   whose position in a hierarchy can be determined from the structure of
   the string itself.

   All data can follow some sort of hierarchy, even if the hierarchy
   seems somewhat arbitrary. For example, person names can be arranged
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