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How technical debt affects innovation and potential remedies

How technical debt affects innovation and potential remedies


New research reveals that technical debt, especially from software architecture issues, has a staggering impact on corporate innovation and the economy as a whole.

vFunction surveyed over 1,000 architecture, development, and engineering leaders across industries about technical debt in software architecture. The report, titled “Microservices, Monoliths, and Fighting $1.52 Trillion in Technical Debt,” states that architectural technical debt caused by structural flaws, lack of modularity, and violations of design principles , was found to rank as the most harmful and impactful type of debt. Loan for application.

Key findings include:

Technical debt costs the U.S. economy $1.52 trillion annually. 51% of organizations allocate more than 25% of their IT budget to improving technical debt. Architectural technical debt ranks as the most harmful type impacting applications. Monolithic architectures face more speed, scalability, and resiliency issues than microservices. 40% believe a “left shift” through architectural observability is key to improving resiliency.Difference between monolith and microservices

This study revealed architectural differences, with organizations using monolithic software architectures facing more pronounced challenges compared to organizations using microservices architectures.

Companies with monolithic architectures were 2.1 times more likely to experience problems such as slow engineering speed, limited scalability, and low resiliency.

57% of monolithic architecture organizations allocated 25% or more of their IT budget to improving technical debt, compared to just 49% of microservices-based companies.

Lack of clear ownership is a challenge

The study found that organizations lack clear ownership and processes to address technical debt, contributing to the problem. Multiple roles and teams are listed as responsible for the remediation effort, including the enterprise architect, engineering lead, product owner, and more.

“Everyone is aware of the impact of accumulated technical debt, and the majority have company-wide efforts to improve it, but there is no clear understanding of who owns it within the organization. There is no consensus,” Moti Rafalin, CEO and co-founder of vFunction, told ITPro Today.

Rufferin noted that responsibility depends on who you ask and is handled differently by different organizations.

“Personally, I think the CIO and other people in charge of the IT organization need to address technical debt. If they don't, they won't be able to properly address it,” he said.

Alamy Why technical debt continues to be misunderstood

Rufferin said companies are facing what he calls “boiled frog syndrome” when it comes to technical debt.

“We all know this is a problem, and as time passes, organizations continue to prioritize releasing new features over maintaining a robust architecture.” he said. “With the rise of AI, developers are becoming more and more productive, but this also means creating more technical debt. That's inevitable.”

In Rufferin's view, addressing technical debt requires a strategic vision. A quick patch may save your company in the short term, but ultimately technical debt will manifest itself in more outages and vulnerabilities. Technical debt needs to be addressed continuously and proactively as part of the software development lifecycle, he said.

Want to solve your technical debt easily? Not so fast

For organizations looking to quickly address technical debt, where should they start and what should they do?

According to Rufferin, the reality is that long-accumulated technical debt, especially architectural technical debt, does not have a quick fix. These architectural problems he cannot solve with a one-line code fix or framework upgrade.

He said it's important to continually review technical debt. Especially in the case of software architecture, teams need to be able to consistently observe it and understand changes to address technical debt in the architecture, as new features are sacrificed over time as they are delivered. there is.

We also recommend adopting a domain-based approach. Rufferin explained that a business domain-based prioritization approach allows organizations to align their technical debt management efforts with their most important business and application modernization goals. Categorizing tasks based on domain importance allows teams to tackle the most pressing problems first.

Not coincidentally, Rafalin's company vFunction also takes this approach to address technical debt in its architecture. He said vFunction applies machine learning and AI to understand the architecture, identify areas for improvement, and focus on making the architecture more resilient, resulting in fewer outages for organizations and application We explained that the scalability of is improved and shifted to the left to effectively increase resiliency.

“By leveraging architectural observability and shifting left to improve architecture, organizations can reduce outages, alleviate scalability issues, and accelerate engineering velocity.” he says. “Addressing the root causes and improving the architecture will pay dividends in the long run.”

About the author

Sean Michael Kerner is an IT consultant, technology enthusiast, and tinkerer. He consults with industry and media organizations on technology issues.




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