Cloud Servers Are Not Our Pets

This post is inspired by a recent conversation with a fellow cloud computing enthusiast from the West coast.

We were engaged in a spirited discussion comparing IT trends pre and post cloud adoption. My friend jogged a memory about “naming servers.” Strangely I remembered most of the names for the “important” servers in my life. Every company I was involved with had a server naming scheme. Planets, cartoon characters, cities, sometimes funny names and sometimes purely functional.

Before the cloud we treated servers like pets. In the cloud we treat servers like cattle.

Before “the cloud” we treated our servers like pets. We named them, cared for them, upgraded them with kit gloves, and “fixed” them when they broke. We projected personalities onto the machines that served files, email, firewall and other crucial enterprise IT services.  Some servers always seemed to be troublesome, and others problem-free. An impromptu midnight scramble coaxing a failed email server back to life was always drama filled. Would the server past POST? Would the SCSI RAID subsystem mount? Fingers-crossed and sighs of relief  when clients could finally log back in.

In “the cloud” we treat our servers like cattle.  Numbers instead of names. When cloud servers get sick, we “kill them” (no offense to PETA). We don’t fix or upgrade. We bootstrap new and replace. There is no sentimental bond between us humans and our inanimate cloud servers. Instead we experience transference  by naming and projecting personalities onto our software components and the clusters of cloud servers that run the software. Indeed our software contains developer DNA, so why shouldn’t a server cluster exude the personalities of the principle contributors? Or morph into something totally unexpected because our genes intermingle with cloud DNA.

What were some of your favorite server names?