Engineering the Future of Software
April 10–11, 2016: Training
April 11–13, 2016: Conference
New York, NY

Maneuverable architecture

Michael Nygard (Cognitect)
2:15pm–3:05pm Wednesday, 04/13/2016
Microservices, pros and cons
Location: Regent Parlor Level: Advanced
Average rating: ***..
(3.33, 6 ratings)

Prerequisite knowledge

Interest in the arrows between boxes on an architecture diagram is crucial.


What can a rogue fighter pilot from the 1960s teach us about software architecture? Quite a lot, as it turns out. In 1964, John Boyd developed energy-maneuverability theory, which showed that the fastest airplane didn’t always win the dogfight. Rather, the winner was the one that could accelerate or decelerate fastest.

Software architecture today is about gaining and shedding mass rapidly. One must scale up or scale down and be able to adapt quickly to changing situations. Sadly, enterprise integration destroys maneuverability more often than it helps.

Michael Nygard explores systems that can be recombined in novel ways to tackle changing business challenges. As architects, we can change the way we integrate systems to produce maneuverability, via different techniques and patterns. Some of these techniques may appear to contradict past notions of sound architecture. Our industry evolves rapidly, however, and last year’s sound practice might just be a drag this year.

Photo of Michael Nygard

Michael Nygard


Michael Nygard is an architect at Cognitect, the company behind Clojure, ClojureScript, Pedestal, and Datomic. Michael has been a professional programmer and architect for over 15 years. In that time, he has delivered systems to the US government, the military, and the banking, finance, agriculture, and retail industries, and his work has spanned domains as diverse as B2B exchanges, retail commerce sites, travel and leisure sites, an information brokerage, and applications for the military and intelligence communities. Along the way, Michael has shared his painfully won experience by mentoring, writing, and speaking. Michael contributed to the O’Reilly book 97 Things Every Software Architect Should Know and authored the best seller Release It! Design and Deploy Production-Ready Software.