Pets vs. Cattle

A core concepts in DevOps that describes the evolution of operational service models. The point is to show the old way and the new way of IT operation and demonstrate the two paradigms that don’t seem to fit together in reality.

In the old way of IT operations, servers were treated like pets: they were cared for and given names. When such a server went down, all priorities and resources were allocated to getting that infrastructure up and running again.

A growing trend in IT is to move away from managing such individual servers. This trend is reinforced by the »Pets vs. Cattle« analogy, which contrasts the individual attention to cats and dogs with the commercial handling of herds by agricultural companies.

Thus, nowadays, servers don’t have pet names, they simply have identifiers like web01/web02/web03 as known from farm animals. When a single server fails, it’s removed and replaced by a new one. No worries, no efforts, and no emotions – problem solved.