Are your servers PETS or CATTLE?

Cloudy metaphor separates the sheep from the goats


Update The word “cloud” has become horribly over-used. Your correspondent has even heard hosted PABXs referred to as “cloud telephony”.

There's far worse abuse of the language going on among those attempting to describe highly virtualised and/or abstracted server fleets straddling on-premises servers and servers resident in third-party data centres where they enjoy varying degrees of management.

Whether such rigs represent “federated”, “public/private” or “hybrid” clouds is the subject of much discussion in certain circles, little of it pretty.

Hence our desire to bring you the slide below, as we feel it offers a more elegant metaphor.

Are your servers pets or cattle?

Are your servers cattle? Pets? Vermin?

The slide comes from a presentation titled “CERN Data Centre Evolution” that details the scientific organisation's 12,000-odd servers and plans to manage them more efficiently.

The pets and cattle metaphor has come up in a few conversations lately and we mention it because it seems a useful way to think about IT operations. We'll even have a go at extending it by saying cattle get to live in a far-off bit barn.

The presentation is also worth a look as it details that CERN is a KVM and Hyper-V shop, with OpenStack employed to manage its pets and a herd of about 15,000 virtual machines. That it has chosen OpenStack for that server-wrangling job, on top of IBM's recent declaration of large-scale affection for the project, is surely not happy news for outfits like VMware that consider themselves ideal carers for large numbers of pets.

Update

Readers, commentards and CERN have pointed out that the "pets and cattle" metaphor is not CERN's work. Randy Bias of CloudScaling used the metaphor in this presentation in which he attributes former Microsoft employee Bill Baker as the source.

A slide from Cloudscaling's Randy Bias showing the Pets and Cattle metaphor

That leaves CERN - and The Reg - following the herd, albeit in the good cause of sharing a useful metaphor. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Oracle shrinks on-prem cloud offering in both size and cost
    Now we can squeeze required boxes into a smaller datacenter footprint, says Big Red

    Oracle has slimmed down its on-prem fully managed cloud offer to a smaller datacenter footprint for a sixth of the budget.

    Snappily dubbed OCI Dedicated Region Cloud@Customer, the service was launched in 2020 and promised to run a private cloud inside a customer's datacenter, or one run by a third party. Paid for "as-a-service," the concept promised customers the flexibility of moving workloads seamlessly between the on-prem system and Oracle's public cloud for a $6 million annual fee and a minimum commitment of three years.

    Big Red has now slashed the fee for a scaled-down version of its on-prem cloud to $1 million a year for a minimum period of four years.

    Continue reading
  • Mega's unbreakable encryption proves to be anything but
    Boffins devise five attacks to expose private files

    Mega, the New Zealand-based file-sharing biz co-founded a decade ago by Kim Dotcom, promotes its "privacy by design" and user-controlled encryption keys to claim that data stored on Mega's servers can only be accessed by customers, even if its main system is taken over by law enforcement or others.

    The design of the service, however, falls short of that promise thanks to poorly implemented encryption. Cryptography experts at ETH Zurich in Switzerland on Tuesday published a paper describing five possible attacks that can compromise the confidentiality of users' files.

    The paper [PDF], titled "Mega: Malleable Encryption Goes Awry," by ETH cryptography researchers Matilda Backendal and Miro Haller, and computer science professor Kenneth Paterson, identifies "significant shortcomings in Mega’s cryptographic architecture" that allow Mega, or those able to mount a TLS MITM attack on Mega's client software, to access user files.

    Continue reading
  • HashiCorp tool sniffs out configuration drift
    OK, which of those engineers tweaked the settings? When infrastructure shifts away from state defined by original code

    HashiConf HashiCorp has kicked off its Amsterdam conference with a raft of product announcements, including a worthwhile look into infrastructure drift and a private beta for HCP Waypoint.

    The first, currently in public beta, is called Drift Detection for Terraform Cloud, and is designed to keep an eye on the state of an organization's infrastructure and notify when changes occur.

    Drift Detection is a useful thing, although an organization would be forgiven for thinking that buying into the infrastructure-as-code world of Terraform should mean everything should remain in the state it was when defined.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022