In my Linkedin Profile, I write that I’m a fan of “elaborate IT Metaphors” yet, in a very literal way, I’ve never actually written a list of my favorites.
Listing out my favorite IT metaphors, sayings, aphorisms and such is risky. Too much pithiness, and I risk not being taken seriously. Too much cynicism and no one wants to talk to you.
And yet I must take that risk, because if you’re a practitioner of the IT arts as I am, then you’re used to engaging in these sorts of thoughtful/silly/humorous reflections.
Or maybe you don't but will find humor and value in them nonetheless. Enjoy and if you like, add your own!
|Metaphor||Meaning||Used in Sentence||Origin/Notes|
|Dark side of the moon||Waiting for a host or device to reply to pings after reload/reboot||Server's gone dark side of the moon, standby.||NASA obviously|
|Eat our own dogfood||Applying same policies/tech/experience to IT that apply to users||That dogfood tastes pretty nasty and we've been dishing it out to our users for years||Not sure but heard on TWiT|
|DNS is like a phonebook||Computers speak in numbers humans speak in words||Look, it works like a phonebook, alright? Do you remember those things?||My own metaphor to explain DNS problems|
|Fat finger||A stupid mistake in perhaps an otherwise solid plan (eg IP address keyed incorrectly)||Jeff totally fat fingered it||Former boss/Homer Simpson?|
|Go FQDN or Go Home||Admonishment to correct lazy IT tendency to code/build with IP addresses rather than FQDN||There are to be no IP addresses listed on the support page. Go FQDN or Go Home, son.||My own|
|Garbage in Garbage Out||You get out of a system that which you put in||I can't make beautiful pivots with a GIGOed set||Unknown but s/he was brilliant|
|Debutante in the Datacenter||A server or service that is high-profile/important but prone to failure and drama without constant attention||Hyperion is doing its debutante thing again||Heard it from someone somewhere in time|
|Cadillac Solution||A high-priced solution to a problem that may require only ingenuity/dilligence||Don't come to me with a Cadillac solution when a Kia will do||My own but really…Cadillac…I'm so old|
|The Sun Never Sets on Infrastructure||A reference to the 24/7 nature of Infrastructure stack demand by way of the British Empire||And the sun never sets on our XenApp farm, so schedule your maintenance||I used this metaphor extensively in last job|
|Infrastructure is Roads/Applications are cars/Users are drivers||Reference to the classic split in IT departments||See here||Former colleague|
|Two Houses Both Alike in Dignity||Another reference to AppDev & Infrastructure divide in IT||-||My own liberal abuse of Shakespeare's opening line in R&J|
|Child Partition/Parent Partition||Reference to me and my son in light of Hypervisor technology||Child partition is totally using up all my spare compute cycles||My own|
|Code is poetry||There is something more to technology than just making things work/be an aristan technologist||Just look at that script, this guy's a poet!||Google but adapted by me for scripting and configs|
|Going full Fibonacci||The joy & euphoria inherent in a well-designed subnetting or routing plan wherein octets and route summaries are harmonized & everything just fits||He went full Fibonacci to save memory on the router||My own abuse of the famedFibonacci Sequence which honestly has nothing to do with IP subnetting and more to do with Dan Brown. Also applies to MAC address pools because encoding your MAC address pools is fun|
|Dystopian IT||Dysfunctional IT departments||I thought I was going to work in the future, not some dystopian nightmare IT group!||Not sure|
|When I was a Child I thought as a Child||How I defend poor technical decisions that haunt me years later||-||A (perhaps blasphemous) homage to St. Paul|
|There are three ____ and the greatest of these is ____||Another St. Paul reference||And then there were three storage systems: file, block and object, and the greatest of these is file||Useful in IT Purchasing decisions|
|IT White Whale||Highly technical problems I haven't solved yet and obsess over||I've been hunting this white whale for what seems like forever||Borrowed from Herman Melville's Moby Dick|
|Servers are cattle, not pets||A pithy & memorable phrase to remind systems guys not to get attached to physical or virtual servers, to view them as cattle that are branded at birth, worked hard throughout life, then slaughtered without pomp or circumstance.||No more Star Wars references as server names, ok? It's a cow, not your pet labrador!||The guys who built Chef|
|Drawer of Tears||The drawer in your desk/lab where failed ideas -represented by working parts- go. My drawer of tears is filled with Raspberry Pis/Surface RTs etc||Yeah I tried that once, ended up in the drawer of tears||My own|