Theodore Y. Ts'o
tytso at mit.edu
Mon Jun 18 03:33:41 AEST 2018
On Sat, Jun 16, 2018 at 09:37:16AM -0400, Noel Chiappa wrote:
> I can't speak to the motivations of everyone who repeats these stories, but my
> professional career has been littered with examples of poor vision from
> technical colleagues (some of whom should have known better), against which I
> (in my role as an architect, which is necessarily somewhere where long-range
> thinking is - or should be - a requirement) have struggled again and again -
> sometimes successfully, more often, not....
> Examples of poor vision are legion - and more importantly, often/usually seen
> to be such _at the time_ by some people - who were not listened to.
To be fair, it's really easy to be wise to after the fact. Let's
start with Unix; Unix is very bare-bones, when other OS architects
wanted to add lots of features that were spurned for simplicity's
sake. Or we could compare X.500 versus LDAP, and X.400 and SMTP.
It's easy to mock decisions that weren't forward-thinking enough; but
it's also really easy to mock failed protocols and designs that
collapsed of their own weight because architects added too much "maybe
it will be useful in the future".
The architects that designed the original (never shipped) Microsoft
Vista thought they had great "vision". Unfortunately they added way
too much complexity and overhead to an operating system just in time
to watch the failure of Moore's law to be able to support all of that
overhead. Adding a database into the kernel and making it a
fundamental part of the file system? OK, stupid? How about adding
all sorts of complexity in VMS and network protocols to support
Sometimes having architects being successful to add their "vision" to
a product can be worst thing that ever happened to a operating sytsem
or, say, the entire OSI networking protocol suite.
> So, is poor vision common? All too common.
Definitely. The problem is it's hard to figure out in advance which
is poor vision versus brilliant engineering to cut down the design so
that it is "as simple as possible", but nevertheless, "as complex as
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