Servers Are Not Houseplants: Servers Are Wheat!

IStock_000022822759Small (1)Once upon a time, in the early evolution of computing, it was a time of great opulence, and all was well with the kingdom. This was a time when when every computer server had a title and they were loved and anthropomorphized by the humans. The elder humans would give them mawkish little names and take tender loving care of each and every one of them, talking to them, hugging them, feeding them individually and treating them with great care, understanding the uniqueness of each and every one.

Ah, history! It teaches us so many things! These primitives were not alone, even today the British Royalty have been known to talk to their house plants! Hands up how many of us have named our servers?  We come up with all sorts of names much inspiration has come from Starwars, names of planets, names of beverages and other popular motifs. Our friend Peter Cheslock started a lovely twitter thread, which also included replies from Pinterest. Think about it, Pinterest’s entire business is about being social! Even their catchphrase is “A few (million) of your favorite things!“, but still these folks don’t name their servers, a UUID is just dandy!

So why is this?  Why don’t we give cutesy names to our servers any more? Our answer here at cycle is:

Scale has changed everything!


The ubiquity of cloud computing and utility supercomputing clearly changes all of this. The amount of science we need to execute on a daily basis changes this. We don’t have time to nourish and look after individual computer servers, or houseplants for that matter! Accordingly:

Servers Are Wheat!

Now we metaphorically plough the fields, we sow the seeds, we reap the wheat, and then we consume it. When we are done, we start all over again. The emotional attachment to wheat is not the same as houseplants. Wheat; yeah it has a job to do, just like our servers! We don’t our “hug servers”, servers are wheat, why would you want to hug wheat?

So then, we are now all modern day computational farmers! We have had to move from the “hunting and gathering” stage of computing into a brave new era of advanced technologies, we have had to adapt.  Because we adapted (like our ancestors) we can now grow more, with higher capacity and increased yield with considerably less effort.  Our traditional scythes have been replaced with combine harvesters! 

We are clearly out of the stone age 🙂  

So, if you are an experienced farmer, why not come join us as we literally tend to fields packed with hundreds of thousands of awesome cereals! 



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  • dave gregoire

    Nice post! Makes perfect sense in a compute cluster, but accessing a particular database via tns or jdbc might be annoyingly difficult to humans who seem to have a less than perfect memory for constructs like UUID…
    Dave Gregoire

  • Hey Dave – LTNS! You do have a point on those there Oracle instances. Having said that, if you have 100,000 Oracle instances to worry about, what they are called is probably going to be the very least of your worries #dollars #cfo 😉