By Jared Ruckle
Metaphors are common in tech. They help explain new concepts to the masses in familiar terms. The most common cloud metaphor? Pets and cattle – often used to underscore how users should think differently about infrastructure and application design patterns in the cloud. The phrase was first publicized by Randy Bias (more good reading on the topic is here and here).
Cloud-native apps — in the enterprise and otherwise — are almost exclusively run on instances best described as cattle. Why the term cattle?
- Cattle are given numbers
- They are similar to other cattle
- When one gets sick, you get another one
Instances that are cattle can be quickly destroyed and replaced thanks to automation and modern application architecture.
Startups tend to use cattle for their flagship IP, with SaaS products to run their IT ops.
Go even further, and platform-as-a-service offerings like Cloud Foundry abstracts the management of cattle away altogether.
In contrast, VMs that are pets are given names, and cared for extensively in the hopes of a long and happy life. Pets are more common in the enterprise world, where there’s an incumbent application portfolio that’s broad, diverse, and highly fragmented.
- Pets are given names like pussinboots.cern.ch
- They are unique, lovingly hand raised and