Stop Talking About Keeping Eggs in a Basket


  • Service Provider

    We all know the old expression "Don't keep all of your eggs in one basket." It's a mantra, especially around IT circles. People use it when talking about only having a single server or any number of things, it seems like such a reliable adage that we rarely question its applicability or even its accuracy. The idea, of course, is that transporting many eggs in a single basket and if that basket falls or is stolen we will have zero eggs. So instead we use two baskets, presumably one in each hand, so that if we drop one or someone steals one from us that at least we will have half of our eggs when we get home.

    Of course the analogy is flawed as all are, but it gets the idea across. But is the idea even a good one? With eggs and baskets something that made you drop one basket would probably be likely to make you drop two as well, does having two baskets make you less likely to drop them? I'm not sure. If you are being robbed of eggs having to watch over two baskets likely makes you less able to watch over or protect the baskets. I'd say that if I really needed to get eggs home safely a single basket seems to be easier when taking into account the reality of carrying baskets.

    But I digress, the real issue is the theory behind the eggs and their baskets. The idea is feeding a family and in that scenario individual eggs are expendable, almost worthless. If you have a dozen eggs for your family, presumably that's plenty to eat and everyone will be full. We don't want our family to starve, and they need eggs. We fear that our basket of eggs won't make it home and everyone will starve. So we split up the eggs into two baskets knowing that the risk of losing some eggs is higher, but presumably the risk of losing all of the eggs is lower (debatable, but that's what the adage is meant to propose) and it is better to almost certainly not starve with just six eggs making it home than it is to risk a greater chance of getting none home and starving while attempting to have all dozen and have the family be full.

    Often this "avoid total loss" strategy is applied to retirement finances where total loss would be devastating but losing the ability to spend your golden years on luxury cruises and world tours would be sad but you could still have shelter and food. While logical there, even with finances the adage often runs afoul of intended goals as financial diversification more often a cause of financial ruin rather than a mitigating factor as financial research has shown that the most reliable strategies involve small diversification and heavy focus and that heavy diversification would increase risk.

    Taking this adage to IT is very dangerous. Remember that the fundamental idea behind the adage is that losing some or even a lot of our eggs doesn't really matter, as long as some amount survives. This does not apply to IT, not normally, anyway. Using the logic based around the idea that your systems or your data are expendable and getting "some" of them to survive is nearly as good as having "all" just does not apply. Our goal is to protect everything at a sensible cost, not to protect some at higher cost but risk much of it.

    In IT we would expect the very opposite to be true - don't risk your eggs in two baskets, put them in one and watch over it carefully. Splitting up the eggs doesn't lower your risk of getting all of the eggs home, it raises it. If we can only afford one basket of eggs, keeping all of the eggs in that basket is generally best. If we feel that the needs for the eggs is too high to risk on a single basket we would not spit up our basket of eggs but instead we would buy two full baskets of eggs and make the eggs redundant, not just the baskets. And we would probably get someone else to carry one of the baskets. And to take a different route home.

    Rethink the eggs in a basket strategy. It sounds quaint and few people step back to think about its applicability. But beware of handy sounding phrases replacing proper cost and risk analysis as the situation is more complex than a simple adage can address. Your company's systems and data are more important than eggs.



  • Even if you keep all your eggs in one basket, it might not be a bad idea to have a backup and buy a few chickens, just in case your eggs don't make it home. At least if you have 3 chickens, you'll get three eggs a day-ish.

    I also like your point abotu the "avoid total loss" in regards to the retirement years. At our current jobs, most of us should have some sort of retirement plan. If not we should find some way to set money aside for the long term. Even if it is a low and slow return, over a number of years, it can snowball into quite the amount.


  • Service Provider



  • Cant beat an egg for breakfast, especially poached :)



  • @StuartJordan said in Stop Talking About Keeping Eggs in a Basket:

    Cant beat an egg for breakfast, especially poached :)

    Scrambled with cheese and a side of bacon beats poached any day.



  • Great, now I'm hungry again. *eats pack of crackers*

    How did this topic go quiet, lol? Guess I killed it when talking about getting chickens, lol.


  • Service Provider

    @dafyre said in Stop Talking About Keeping Eggs in a Basket:

    Great, now I'm hungry again. *eats pack of crackers*

    How did this topic go quiet, lol? Guess I killed it when talking about getting chickens, lol.

    I was surprised when I looked back at it that people had never talked much on it.



  • In regards to getting two baskets home vs one... Wouldn't the smart thing be to give one basket to another family member to carry while you keep one as well?

    That way there's two baskets, a dozen eggs, and the likelihood of both of you tripping on the same tree root are slim.


  • Service Provider

    @dafyre said in Stop Talking About Keeping Eggs in a Basket:

    In regards to getting two baskets home vs one... Wouldn't the smart thing be to give one basket to another family member to carry while you keep one as well?

    That way there's two baskets, a dozen eggs, and the likelihood of both of you tripping on the same tree root are slim.

    That's true, if you have the people available and if you have eggs. Remember, though, IT doesn't have eggs under normal conditions.

    Think about your email server or your main database... it's a single egg. There is no way to split it up under normal conditions.


  • Service Provider

    Identifying what an egg would be in the conversation is critical. When talking IT in this way, your "eggs" are your workloads individually. Your email, sharepoint, active directory, SQL Server, web server, etc. are not all "eggs" in the basket. Each is a separate conversation. If we want to talk about a basket, then one is the egg, another is cheese, another is ham... they are not redundant with each other like eggs are. A dozen eggs is redundant because they are all equally eggs and all do the same task. Losing one egg reduces your food capacity by 1/12th. But losing your email server doesn't reduce your email capacity by 1/12th, it drops it by 100%.





  • @scottalanmiller said in Stop Talking About Keeping Eggs in a Basket:

    Identifying what an egg would be in the conversation is critical. When talking IT in this way, your "eggs" are your workloads individually. Your email, sharepoint, active directory, SQL Server, web server, etc. are not all "eggs" in the basket. Each is a separate conversation. If we want to talk about a basket, then one is the egg, another is cheese, another is ham... they are not redundant with each other like eggs are. A dozen eggs is redundant because they are all equally eggs and all do the same task. Losing one egg reduces your food capacity by 1/12th. But losing your email server doesn't reduce your email capacity by 1/12th, it drops it by 100%.

    True. But if you treat the Virtualization hosts as the baskets, that is a more likely paradigm.

    You can keep lots of stuff in the baskets... eggs, cheese, ham, alfalfa sprouts (eww!)... If you fall and crush the basket, the basket is ruined, but you might could transfer the ham and cheese and alfalfa sprouts to another basket and restore your other contents from backups (chickens, perhaps?).



  • @dafyre said in Stop Talking About Keeping Eggs in a Basket:

    @scottalanmiller said in Stop Talking About Keeping Eggs in a Basket:

    Identifying what an egg would be in the conversation is critical. When talking IT in this way, your "eggs" are your workloads individually. Your email, sharepoint, active directory, SQL Server, web server, etc. are not all "eggs" in the basket. Each is a separate conversation. If we want to talk about a basket, then one is the egg, another is cheese, another is ham... they are not redundant with each other like eggs are. A dozen eggs is redundant because they are all equally eggs and all do the same task. Losing one egg reduces your food capacity by 1/12th. But losing your email server doesn't reduce your email capacity by 1/12th, it drops it by 100%.

    True. But if you treat the Virtualization hosts as the baskets, that is a more likely paradigm.

    You can keep lots of stuff in the baskets... eggs, cheese, ham, alfalfa sprouts (eww!)... If you fall and crush the basket, the basket is ruined, but you might could transfer the ham and cheese and alfalfa sprouts to another basket and restore your other contents from backups (chickens, perhaps?).

    You're mixing up the egg carton, and the eggs.

    The hypervisor is the carton. It holds each individual egg. As discussed in numerous topics, sometimes you need hypervisor capabilities to transport your egg(s) from one another. Meaning you might have 2 or more egg cartons (hypervisors).

    Other times you need application capable HA, meaning your egg either needs to be able to replicate to a remote egg carton (with a waiting cloned egg) or to rapidly move/clone to another carton.


  • Service Provider

    @dafyre said in Stop Talking About Keeping Eggs in a Basket:

    @scottalanmiller said in Stop Talking About Keeping Eggs in a Basket:

    Identifying what an egg would be in the conversation is critical. When talking IT in this way, your "eggs" are your workloads individually. Your email, sharepoint, active directory, SQL Server, web server, etc. are not all "eggs" in the basket. Each is a separate conversation. If we want to talk about a basket, then one is the egg, another is cheese, another is ham... they are not redundant with each other like eggs are. A dozen eggs is redundant because they are all equally eggs and all do the same task. Losing one egg reduces your food capacity by 1/12th. But losing your email server doesn't reduce your email capacity by 1/12th, it drops it by 100%.

    True. But if you treat the Virtualization hosts as the baskets, that is a more likely paradigm.

    No, it doesn't change anything. Not one thing. That's key. That impression that your platform is a basket and therefore everything in it must be an egg is where the logic is missing. yes, you have one basket, but you also only have one egg.


  • Service Provider

    @dafyre said in Stop Talking About Keeping Eggs in a Basket:

    You can keep lots of stuff in the baskets... eggs, cheese, ham, alfalfa sprouts (eww!)... If you fall and crush the basket, the basket is ruined, but you might could transfer the ham and cheese and alfalfa sprouts to another basket and restore your other contents from backups (chickens, perhaps?).

    Right....

    Goal: Make a complete sandwich

    Tools: One basket
    Ingredients: eggs, cheese, toast, bacon

    If you lose any ingredient, your sandwich fails. Now, do you want one basket or five.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Stop Talking About Keeping Eggs in a Basket:

    @dafyre said in Stop Talking About Keeping Eggs in a Basket:

    You can keep lots of stuff in the baskets... eggs, cheese, ham, alfalfa sprouts (eww!)... If you fall and crush the basket, the basket is ruined, but you might could transfer the ham and cheese and alfalfa sprouts to another basket and restore your other contents from backups (chickens, perhaps?).

    Right....

    Goal: Make a complete sandwich

    Tools: One basket
    Ingredients: eggs, cheese, toast, bacon

    If you lose any ingredient, your sandwich fails. Now, do you want one basket or five.

    Well, everything is stored in one fridge.



  • @Grey said in Stop Talking About Keeping Eggs in a Basket:

    @scottalanmiller said in Stop Talking About Keeping Eggs in a Basket:

    @dafyre said in Stop Talking About Keeping Eggs in a Basket:

    You can keep lots of stuff in the baskets... eggs, cheese, ham, alfalfa sprouts (eww!)... If you fall and crush the basket, the basket is ruined, but you might could transfer the ham and cheese and alfalfa sprouts to another basket and restore your other contents from backups (chickens, perhaps?).

    Right....

    Goal: Make a complete sandwich

    Tools: One basket
    Ingredients: eggs, cheese, toast, bacon

    If you lose any ingredient, your sandwich fails. Now, do you want one basket or five.

    Well, everything is stored in one fridge.

    Except when transported in a basket...



  • This whole topic is now starting to sound like "A house is a house for me" lol.



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