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MWS DNS management

Administrators of MWS servers can set up the hostnames (a.k.a. DNS names, domains, or domain names) associated with the web sites hosted on their servers using the MWS Control Panel. To take effect, these hostnames also need to appear in the DNS.

For hostnames ending something other than '.cam.ac.uk', or with endings corresponding to institutions who manage their own DNS (Maths, Engineering, Computer Laboratory, and some others), the MWS just provides generic instructions for what the site owner needs to do.

For other hostnames ending '.cam.ac.uk' the MWS will, where possible, make the necessary changes using a direct interface to IP Register Database. This is consistent with the manual process used by the previous version of the MWS, and on Falcon.

When a new hostname ending '.cam.ac.uk' is requested (without the 'special' flag set, see below) the following happens:

  • Names that don't have an existing '.<something>.cam.ac.uk suffix are rejected.
  • Otherwise an email is sent to the contact address for the IP Register Management Zone (mzone) containing the proposed hostname. The email includes a link that can be used to approve or reject the request. In all cases, if the request is rejected no changes are made to the DNS.
    • If the request is approved and the proposed hostname doesn't already exist then an appropriate CNAME record is created. If no response is received in three days the request is assumed to be approved.
    • If the request is approved and the proposed hostname exists and is a CNAME then the CNAME record is automatically amended. If no response is received in three days the request is assumed to be approved.
    • If the proposed hostname exists and is something other than a CNAME the request cannot be approved as it stands. To approve the request, mzone administrators must first either delete the existing record or convert it to a CNAME. If no response is received in three days the request is assumed to be rejected.

Each hostnames in the MWS has an associated 'special' flag. When set, the MWS makes no attempt to update the DNS and assumes that this will happen separately. This can be useful in advanced configurations such as putting a MWS site behind a proxy server or arranging for a site to respond to a name that can't correspond to a CNAME record (e.g. where it also corresponds to a MX or NS record).

In all cases the MWS administrator who made the original request will be notified of the outcome.

When a hostname ending '. cam.ac.uk' is removed from a Managed Web Server site the corresponding CNAME record will be deleted providing it does actually point to a MWS site. No notification is sent when this happens.

Following any update it can take up to an hour for changes to appear on the authoritative servers and up to a further hour to propagate to other caching servers.