Welcome!

@DevOpsSummit Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Mehdi Daoudi

Related Topics: @DevOpsSummit, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo

@DevOpsSummit: Blog Post

DevOps and Technical Debt – Are You Paying the Piper? By @PeWhouse | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps

DevOps is a journey of digital transformation, but this must involve clinically reviewing and paying down technical debt

DevOps and Technical Debt - Are You Paying the Piper?

Like me, you're probably familiar with the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. A cautionary tale about the consequences of reneging on debt - it sure scared the crap out of me as a kid.

In enterprise IT, we also accrue debt, but of the technical kind. While the results of non-payment aren't as severe as those suffered by the good folk of Hamelin, not ‘paying the piper' will have dire consequences for any businesses trying to compete on an economic playing field where the rules are determined by software.

DevOps of course is now being touted as a tune organizations must play if they're to digitally transform their businesses - and for good reason. Businesses in every vertical are showing that through effective cross-functional collaboration, automation, and the adoption of agile and lean practices, high quality software can be released more rapidly - the result, a high performance IT function that's inextricably linked to increased customer satisfaction, profitability and market share.

But in all the noise, many enterprises risk getting carried away on the hype wave accompanying every new trend. Forgetting that without paying down existing technical debt, any DevOps benefits will be like, well, the children of Hamelin - never to be seen. Worse still, many organizations may be introducing more debt because they've failed to elevate thinking beyond short-term tactical optimization.

Debt Can Move Right to Left - the traditional view of technical debt is that it originates in early code development and insidiously works its way into production (where it's more costly to fix). Very true of course, but DevOps practitioners should also consider that debt can also accumulate in operations and work the other way. For example, constrained access to production systems, performance patterns and data during testing may lead to sub-optimal practices and behaviors - such as development avoiding an essential refactoring exercise or piece of documentation because they know they have the time to get back to it later (which they never do).

It's a Tax You Have to Pay - Gene Kim is spot on when he strongly suggests organizations should reserve 20% of cycle times to paying down technical debt. Management may see this as an unnecessary overhead, so in addition to extolling the value of continuous delivery, DevOps also involves impressing the business benefit of baking quality across the software lifecycle. For example, tools like application performance monitoring are a great way to illustrate in clear business language how detecting response time issues in pre-production has increased customer conversations and helped avoid unnecessary capacity related procurements.

Small Isn't Necessarily Beautiful - Microservices are fast becoming a popular architectural design pattern for DevOps teams. With these architectures, development teams have more control over the technology-stack, choosing the best tool for the job and employing APIs for messaging and integration. In the short term there are advantages, like rapid code delivery, independent deployment, development scale and fault isolation, but there are drawbacks too. As more services are added, system testing, release co-ordination and support costs can increase. Additionally, discrete data stores introduce duplication, meaning more moving parts and greater operational complexity.

Dumb Incentives Will Increase the Burden - measuring the effectiveness of development folks using metrics like lines of code produced or function points delivered can actually increase the debt -for example, by maintaining a bloated ‘rats nest' code base. Similarly in Ops, being rewarded for holding back releases or slavishly monitoring every new cloud or infrastructure component with a plethora of diagnostic tools is no way to build the scale needed to future-proof the business. Smart organizations understand that in order to realize the benefits of a highly collaborative DevOps style operation, close attention should be given to the shared development and ownership of meaningful metrics that are outcome not output centric.

Your Technical Debt Is Never ‘Done' - any software service however brilliant will always accrue some technical debt until it's decommissioned. As such, members of a true DevOps team will never ‘pass the debt buck' - using the word ‘Done' to convey that their responsibility (or accountability) has ended. On the contrary, they collectively employ system style thinking to determine how each software and infrastructure element they code, test or operate increases business value and enhances the customer experience. For these teams, everyone's mindset is geared toward improvements that transcend functional boundaries - like reliability, performance, maintainability, scalability; collectively swarming any problem that introduces more debt and compromises these goals.

With any IT-related trend, it's easy to get lost in hype and spin. DevOps is a journey of digital transformation, yes, but never forget this must involve clinically reviewing and paying down technical debt. For the strategic minded and disciplined among us, the pragmatic application of DevOps will pay huge dividends - for those who renege, the benefits will be whisked away by a tune of good, but misguided intentions.

More Stories By Pete Waterhouse

Pete Waterhouse, Senior Strategist at CA Technologies, is a business technologist with 20+ years’ experience in development, strategy, marketing and executive management. He is a recognized thought leader, speaker and blogger – covering key trends such as DevOps, Mobility, Cloud and the Internet of Things.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@DevOpsSummit Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that DXWorldExpo has been named “Global Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation is the key issue driving the global enterprise IT business. Digital Transformation is most prominent among Global 2000 enterprises and government institutions.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Datera, that offers a radically new data management architecture, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Datera is transforming the traditional datacenter model through modern cloud simplicity. The technology industry is at another major inflection point. The rise of mobile, the Internet of Things, data storage and Big Data are challenging the existing design patterns of the Data Center. The increase in complexity of managing legacy systems alongside new systems is beyond the ability of most IT departments. This leads to multiple tiers of storage and high economic costs, during a time in which IT is expected to do more with less.
Kubernetes is an open source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Kubernetes was originally built by Google, leveraging years of experience with managing container workloads, and is now a Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF) project. Kubernetes has been widely adopted by the community, supported on all major public and private cloud providers, and is gaining rapid adoption in enterprises. However, Kubernetes may seem intimidating and complex to learn. This is because Kubernetes is more of a toolset than a ready solution. Hence it’s essential to know when and how to apply the appropriate Kubernetes constructs.
"I think DevOps is now a rambunctious teenager – it’s starting to get a mind of its own, wanting to get its own things but it still needs some adult supervision," explained Thomas Hooker, VP of marketing at CollabNet, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Your homes and cars can be automated and self-serviced. Why can't your storage? From simply asking questions to analyze and troubleshoot your infrastructure, to provisioning storage with snapshots, recovery and replication, your wildest sci-fi dream has come true. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, provided a ChatOps demo where you can talk to your storage and manage it from anywhere, through Slack and similar services with Tintri's web services architecture and APIs. Impress your DevOps team with smart and autonomous infrastructure.
"At the keynote this morning we spoke about the value proposition of Nutanix, of having a DevOps culture and a mindset, and the business outcomes of achieving agility and scale, which everybody here is trying to accomplish," noted Mark Lavi, DevOps Solution Architect at Nutanix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We are an IT services solution provider and we sell software to support those solutions. Our focus and key areas are around security, enterprise monitoring, and continuous delivery optimization," noted John Balsavage, President of A&I Solutions, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Calligo, an innovative cloud service provider offering mid-sized companies the highest levels of data privacy and security, has been named "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Calligo offers unparalleled application performance guarantees, commercial flexibility and a personalised support service from its globally located cloud platforms. Through its four pillars of focus, Calligo delivers a platform that businesses can trust to deliver the high level of service and protection they expect and is lacking in many cloud offerings.
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise...
"With Digital Experience Monitoring what used to be a simple visit to a web page has exploded into app on phones, data from social media feeds, competitive benchmarking - these are all components that are only available because of some type of digital asset," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
As enterprise cloud becomes the norm, businesses and government programs must address compounded regulatory compliance related to data privacy and information protection. The most recent, Controlled Unclassified Information and the EU’s GDPR have board level implications and companies still struggle with demonstrating due diligence. Developers and DevOps leaders, as part of the pre-planning process and the associated supply chain, could benefit from updating their code libraries and design by incorporating changes.
"I'm here to leverage my secret sauce, which is using outsourced development and the company that I utilize is delaPlex Software and they've basically allowed me to win Fortune 500 companies," noted Justin Witz, CTO of FRA and PlanTools, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
DX World EXPO, LLC., a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
SYS-CON Events announced today that DXWorldExpo has been named “Global Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation is the key issue driving the global enterprise IT business. Digital Transformation is most prominent among Global 2000 enterprises and government institutions.
In his opening keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Michael Maximilien, Research Scientist, Architect, and Engineer at IBM, discussed the full potential of the cloud and social data requires artificial intelligence. By mixing Cloud Foundry and the rich set of Watson services, IBM's Bluemix is the best cloud operating system for enterprises today, providing rapid development and deployment of applications that can take advantage of the rich catalog of Watson services to help drive insights from the vast trove of private and public data available to enterprises.
"I will be talking about ChatOps and ChatOps as a way to solve some problems in the DevOps space," explained Himanshu Chhetri, CTO of Addteq, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SYS-CON Events announced today that EnterpriseTech has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. EnterpriseTech is a professional resource for news and intelligence covering the migration of high-end technologies into the enterprise and business-IT industry, with a special focus on high-tech solutions in new product development, workload management, increased efficiency, and maximizing competitive edge.
"We began as LinuxAcademy.com about five years ago as a very small outfit. Since then we've transitioned into more of a DevOps training company - the technologies and the tooling around DevOps," explained Doug Vanderweide, an instructor at Linux Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm. In their Day 3 Keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, a Solutions Marketing Manager at Nutanix, and Mark Lavi, a Nutanix DevOps Solution Architect, explored the ways that Nutanix technologies empower teams to react faster than ever before and connect teams in ways that were either too complex or simply impossible with traditional infrastructures.
"NetApp's vision is how we help organizations manage data - delivering the right data in the right place, in the right time, to the people who need it, and doing it agnostic to what the platform is," explained Josh Atwell, Developer Advocate for NetApp, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of engineers can navigate the Carrier Ecosystem for your IT team acting as an extension of your business, producing a hassle-free experience.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy named "Bronze Sponsor" of 21st International Cloud Expo which will take place October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud computing technologies. Get certified, manage the full lifecycle of your cloud-based resources, and build your knowledge based using Cloud Academy’s expert-created content, comprehensive Learning Paths, and innovative Hands-on Labs.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloudistics delivers a complete public cloud experience with composable on-premises infrastructures to medium and large enterprises. Its software-defined technology natively converges network, storage, compute, virtualization, and management into a single platform to drive unprecedented simplicity in the data center. Customers can start with a base infrastructure and scale to multi-site and multi-geo infrastructures with predictable economics and performance.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CHEETAH Training & Innovation will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CHEETAH Training & Innovation is a cloud consulting and IT training firm specializing in improving clients cloud strategies and infrastructures for medium to large companies.