I am currently thinking of rules for the ontology in data center designs. Translated, I am trying to figure out the principles, components, and relationships for the Open Source Data Center Initiative.
This is a complex topic to try and explain, but I found an interesting project the Long Now started by a bunch of really smart people, Jeff Bezos, Esther Dyson, Mitch Kapor, Peter Schwartz, and Steward Brand. Here is a video discussing the idea of a 10,000 year clock.
But, what I found interesting was their long term approach and transparency that we will be using in the Open Source Data Center Initiative. And, now thinking a Long View is part of what we have as principles.
Here are the principles of the Long Now Clock that make a lot of sense to use data center design.
These are the principles that Danny Hillis used in the initial stages of designing a 10,000 Year Clock. We have found these are generally good principles for designing anything to last a long time.
With occasional maintenance, the clock should reasonably be expected to display the correct time for the next 10,000 years.
The clock should be maintainable with bronze-age technology.
TransparencyIt should be possible to determine operational principles of the clock by close inspection.
EvolvabilityIt should be possible to improve the clock with time.
ScalabilityIt should be possible to build working models of the clock from table-top to monumental size using the same design.
Some rules that follow from the design principles:
- Go slow
- Avoid sliding friction (gears)
- Avoid ticking
- Stay clean
- Stay dry
- Expect bad weather
- Expect earthquakes
- Expect non-malicious human interaction
- Dont tempt thieves
- Maintainability and transparency:
- Use familiar materials
- Allow inspection
- Rehearse motions
- Make it easy to build spare parts
- Expect restarts
- Include the manual
- Scalability and Evolvabilty:
- Make all parts similar size
- Separate functions
- Provide simple interfaces
Why think about a 10,000 year clock, because thinking about slowness teaches us things we don't have time when think only of speed.
Hurry Up and Wait
We asked some of the world’s most prominent futurists to explain why slowness might be as important to the future as speed.
Julian Bleecker, a designer, technologist, and co-founder of the Near Future Laboratory, devises “design-to-think experiments” that focus on interactions away from conventional computer settings. “When sitting at a screen and keyboard, everything is tuned to be as fast as possible,” he says. “It’s about diminishing time to nothing.”
So he asks, “Can we make design where time is inescapable and not be brought to zero? Would it be interesting if time were stretched, or had weight?” To test this idea, Bleeker built a Slow Messaging Device, which automatically delayed electronic (as in, e-mail) messages. Especially meaningful messages took an especially long time to arrive.
The biggest unknown problems in data centers are those things that we didn't think were going to happen in the future. And, this leaves the door open to over-engineering, increasing cost, brittleness of systems, and delays. Taking a Long View what will the future possibly look like can help you see things you normally wouldn't.