The University of Arizona

What is a virtual domain name?

A virtual domain name for a site on the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences main server is a site name that does not start with either  or  Although the site is in a folder on the main CALS server, the URL does not reflect the name of the college in the address.

There are two types of virtual domain names.

  1. One is an address that ends with, such as, or     This type of address does not require purchasing of a domain name, since the address is part of the University of Arizona system. However, it may require checking with other University units which work in the same area. The department head approving this virtual domain request would assume this responsibility.
  2. The second type of virtual domain is one that does not contain the phrase  For example, or or This type of address requires that a domain name be purchased on an annual basis, by contracting with one of the domain name registry services. Annual payment and maintenance of this domain name is the responsibility of the group or unit with the virtual domain. Although the domain name extension could be .org, it could also be .net, or .com or any other accepted website extension. Normally .org is preferred since that extension is associated with non-profit groups.

Conditions for getting a virtual domain

Any site housed on the server can get either type of virtual domain name providing:

  1. The request comes from a College staff or faculty member
  2. The request is approved by the appropriate department head, school director or Extension director of the person requesting the virtual domain. Extension programs require approval from the main Extension office. Requests will be forwarded to the correct person.
  3. There is clear identification on the front page of the site that the site is a program in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Arizona and is hosted by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. This identification can be done with images, text or a combination of text and images. At the time of the request for the virtual domain, the front page of the site needs to be posted showing what the front page will look like.
  4. The request needs to indicate the virtual domain name being requested, the specific folder on the CALS server to associate with the virtual domain, and the expected time this virtual domain name will be used or remain active.
  5. Only a single virtual domain name will be set up for a given folder.

Completing the approval steps

To initiate the request for a virtual domain name, complete this form. The information on the form will be sent to the indicated department head, school director, or Extension director. Until this request is approved by the appropriate administrator, by sending approval to the, the request will not be activated. Final registration of the virtual domain and association with the two University of Arizona domain name servers occurs after these steps have been completed and the requester has been notified by ECAT to continue with the virtual domain registration.

General background information

Domain name servers to associate with virtual domains which do not end with
When registering the domain name, the domain name servers to associate with the site are ( - for the primary - and ( or ( - for the secondary. These are the two domain name servers used for the University of Arizona. Once the site is registered, send an email to and the coding for the CALS server will be finalized.
As you consider using a virtual domain name, keep these points in mind
  • ECAT provides for CALS site managers who ask for reports statistical reports on site activity using Urchin release 5. If you set up either type of virtual domain, statistical reports are available, but using an older release of Urchin which does not provide as much report detail.
  • Although we will still point to sites which are part of College programs using our College site database at (if a site description has been submitted), because your site does not start with or, pages on your site will not appear when using a the Google search used on the College site.
  • The general University uses for its search system a Google search based on sites which end If you use a virtual domain which does not end with, your pages may not appear when the visitor searches the general University website system.
  • If you decide to use a virtual domain which does not end with, we advise you to set up ownership of the domain name through your unit, and stay abreast of name renewal. In the past some site managers have lost ownership of their domain name, which causes problems if a lot of literature has been distributed with the virtual domain name.
  • The URL for a site is part of its identity with the public. If a unit has too many different URLs for entities in its program, identification with the parent group is lost.
  • Although you may feel that having a unique virtual domain will bring more people to your site, our statistics show that most people find sites or specific pages on a site through use of search engines, like Google. Having a virtual domain name will not necessarily bring more activity to your site. Selective marketing of your site to your particular audience is more important. Also adding good description or keyword metatags to your main page will help people find your site.