Don Box on Pragmatics vs Religion in web services technology

I see that Don Box is getting some pushback  from various folks on his post on Pragmatics.  Maybe this will make it a bit clearer 🙂

The following equipment purchase decisions are orthogonal, even though people often conflate two or more of them:


  1. Whether one uses big trucks or economy cars

  2. Whether or not one prefers to buy from American or European/Asian manufacturers.

  3. Whether or not one buys fuel at retail or enters long-term wholesale contracts.

  4. The degree to which one relies on the specific details of a particular truck or car to make long term planning decisions.

  5. Whether one adopts a hub and spoke or point to point distribution network


Some of the decisions (specifically 5) are architectural and sometimes philosophical.


Some of the decisions are simple business decisions that are determined by what your business is.


  1. If you want to haul a lot of heavy stuff securely and reliably, use a truck

  2. If you want a to move people or light objects around quickly and cheaply, use an economy car.

  3. If you want to do both, buy both trucks and economy cars

  4. If you want to make money, you will not listen to dudes who think diesel trucks are the only macho way to get around, or to environmental geeks who think they are evil because they smell bad.



Comments (9)
  1. It’s been quite some time, so it was to be expected that this particular permathread had to come up again … Don Box started it with this post, which was later elaborated through analogy quite nicely by Mike Champion. Mark Baker has

  2. MCChampion says:

    Stefan (and Mark Baker) push back that the Web is just fine for secure, reliable heavy lifiting; Mark cites Amazon, Google, eBay, etc.  Here’s my understanding, and maybe others can push back with better facts:

    – Google uses a private former dark fiber network rather than the internet / Web for the "heavy lifting" of keeping its data centers in sync.

    – Amazon (and eBay) uses  web services technologies for critical communications with its many partners; it does a relatively good job of making ordinary customer interactions reliable and secure, but does so with immense amounts of custom code built on top of and around HTTP

    – Typical enterprise IT shops tend see the Web as a necessary evil to communicate with customers, and must invest heavily in tools and expertise to get acceptable security / reliability; they generally use databases or enterprise message oriented middleware (e.g. MQ) to handle internal communications securely and reliably.  

  3. For some reason I don’t really understand, Don Box’s appeal for Pragmatics has had exactly the opposite…

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