Don't Ship an Architecture

Feb 22, 2022
I don't understand what we would do differently in light of cloud computing other than change the wording on some of our ads," — Larry Ellison (2009)

Ellison once waged an architectural war against Microsoft. He believed that client/server (fat, Windows-specific clients) were an “evolutionary dead-end” and that everything would be run through a web-browser on a “network computer” (throwback to Sun’s “the network is the computer”).

Ellison may have won the battle but not the war. The world still runs on Microsoft Office and expensive MacBooks – yet, the browser is the OS. Architecture can be a strategic distribution model, but don’t ship your architecture.

Ethereum, Bitcoin, and many other web3 systems are making similar mistakes. The architecture is not the product. With open source, it is easy to get wedded to not only shipping the architecture but shipping the code.  It’s hard to change things (even outside the official API or contract) when people depend on it (and they will).