What garden weeds can teach us about system resilience

I’ve been wondering about how it can be that garden weeds are so hard to get rid of considering they only grow at the rate of 1 cm a day. I realised that they apply lots of principles which are pretty useful in making a resilient system of any kind (including computer systems) – here are some cross-links:

1. When you pick the biggest and most obvious ones, the tiny ones you hadn’t noticed suddenly grow big in no time at all. I.e. they have a load-balanced cluster model with auto-scaling built in. When one machine goes down, the others jump in and take up the slack.
2. They stash away resources so that if you only pick the top and don’t uproot them, they can grow again, and again and again. I.e. they are smartly over-provisioned so that in high-demand conditions, they can recover. This might also tell us something about market economics – they must have a pretty tried-and-tested model about how much resources to stash away (invest) depending on the risk climate.
3. They metastasize – i.e. you can cut them up into little pieces but this will just make more of them grow. I.e. they are built in loosely coupled components which are able to operate and recover when the others stop working.
4. Even if you kill them all off, there are still the seeds – i.e. they are resilient to reboot and relaunch.
5. They dump seeds everywhere: i.e. they are opportunistic – ready to boot wherever there is an opportunity – e.g. in a crack in the concrete.

One Response to “What garden weeds can teach us about system resilience”

  1. Fotios says:

    very good observations

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