[AusNOG] "Simple Systems Have Less Downtime"

Terry Sweetser Terry.Sweetser at ix.asn.au
Fri Mar 6 10:23:18 EST 2020

Several good references …

Normal Accident Theory
Perrow, 1984; Wolf, 2001; Tamuz & Harrison, 2006
(Tom’s Wikipedia link is Perrow.)

High Reliability Theory
LaPorte & Consolini, 1998; Weick & Sutcliffe, 2005

“Managing the unexpected” (Weick & Sutcliffe) can apply to lots of contexts, not just ICT.

Terry Sweetser
General Manager, IX Australia
Terry.Sweetser at ix.asn.au<mailto:tim at ix.asn.au>
Mobile/WhatsApp: +61455067119
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From: AusNOG <ausnog-bounces at lists.ausnog.net> On Behalf Of Tom Paseka
Sent: Thursday, 5 March 2020 4:33 PM
To: Mark Smith <markzzzsmith at gmail.com>
Cc: AusNOG Mailing List <ausnog at ausnog.net>
Subject: Re: [AusNOG] "Simple Systems Have Less Downtime"

recommended reading: Normal Accidents<https://www.amazon.com/Normal-Accidents-Living-High-Risk-Technologies/dp/0691004129> / https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normal_Accidents

On Wed, Mar 4, 2020 at 7:59 PM Mark Smith <markzzzsmith at gmail.com<mailto:markzzzsmith at gmail.com>> wrote:

On Thu, 5 Mar 2020, 14:07 Bevan Slattery, <bevan at slattery.net.au<mailto:bevan at slattery.net.au>> wrote:
There was a whole PhD paper demonstrating why planes with two engines were safer than planes with four due to risk of catastrophic failure having four engines/and complexity that outweighed the additional redundancy it provided.

Having realised that "unnecessary complexity is the enemy", after working on both simple and complex networks and systems, I've been "collecting" simplicity idioms:

"Less is more." - Bauhaus Movement.

"Complex equals more things that can break." - Anonymous on Slashdot.

"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” (in the context of aircraft design coincidentally) - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Airman's Odyssey.

"As simple as possible but no simpler."

"In protocol design, perfection has been reached not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." - RFC1925.

Somewhere along the line I came across a theory that the Roman Empire collapsed because of its complexity, and that continuing adding complexity will unavoidably result in catastrophic collapse.

Looking that up, I came across this paper that suggests persistent, determined and voluntary simplicity is the way to gain resilience and avoid complexity collapse.

"Resilience through Simplification: Revisiting Tainter’s Theory of Collapse"



From: AusNOG <ausnog-bounces at lists.ausnog.net<mailto:ausnog-bounces at lists.ausnog.net>> on behalf of Mark Smith <markzzzsmith at gmail.com<mailto:markzzzsmith at gmail.com>>
Date: Thursday, 5 March 2020 at 1:05 pm
To: AusNOG Mailing List <ausnog at ausnog.net<mailto:ausnog at ausnog.net>>
Subject: [AusNOG] "Simple Systems Have Less Downtime"

This is excellent. About startups, however lots of parallels in network and network protocol architecture and design.

Simple Systems Have Less Downtime

Also cross over with RFC1925, "The Twelve Networking Truths", for those that may not be aware if it.


(RFC1925 might be the best RFC ever.)
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