How DevOps helps Business to address technical debt
What is Technical Debt?
Enterprises and organizations tend to accept solutions that are faster when faced with business problems. Shorter and easy solutions may help you for the time being, but they can drag you back to the same pain or present to you a way bigger problem. Technical debt is a word coined by Ward Cunningham and it correlates the software to the financial debt.
Technical debts have different sources like redundant and obsolete architecture, inappropriate and substandard code, substandard tools used for development, etc. Substandard code can be from the design point of view, execution point of view, or both. It can hamper your compilation, debugging, execution, etc.
As per Martin Fowler, the effort taken to add new features to the software is the interest paid on the financial debt. In addition to the debt and associated financial crunch, technical debts and their associated causes can adversely affect your development and release process. Technical debts can eventually get harder and you may find yourself in a vicious circle.
Technical debt can also be due to your operations process apart from the development process like running an outdated Operating System (OS). Technical debt can also be due to servers that aren’t updated. This can expose you to threats like cyber-attacks and other malware.
How does DevOps address Technical Debt?
1. Teams for Product Development
Creating and organizing teams in itself is a part of DevOps culture. The team as a whole along with each member is accountable for the development process. This accountability can make each and every member of the team answerable regarding the product or service. If the product is a success, each and every team member has the right to rejoice. If it is the other way round, each and everyone has their own share of responsibility. The level of technical debt needs to be assessed by organizing sprints to rework the debt. Assessing technical debts can enable you to identify some indicators like rating which could be on the downside, it can also be due to your development cycle taking longer than the estimated time. The management in general and the team manager, in particular, needs to motivate the team as it is the team that can do their best to eliminate debt.
Automation is a part and parcel of DevOps culture. You cannot separate DevOps and automation. According to DevOps Group many of the models including the most commonly used Culture-Automation-Lean-Measurement-Sharing (CALMS) model has automation as an inalienable part. Getting your time-consuming and error-prone processes to be automated can solve the problem of technical debt to an extent. Leverage the best advantages of DevOps automation to offset technical debts.
3. API Centric Models
Application Programming Interfaces (API) is a software interface that can enable it to communicate with other software. Technical debts can be eliminated to an extent by using well-structured interfaces. API-centric models enable the teams to make the overall development cycle faster as APIs enable the DevOps team to modify the existing implementation without impacting the overall structure.
Containers are lightweight entities that wrap up the code and all the associated dependencies that enable them to run on any environment. The portability and platform-independent nature speed up the whole development life cycle. Containers can be effectively used to run anything from microservices to large applications. This enables the team to focus on the development process and also gives them the flexibility to redesign the development life cycle.
Technical debts need to be duly acknowledged and addressed, otherwise, it can hamper your business operations. Technical debts need to be monitored and tracked properly and they should be treated with utmost importance. Technical debts can be offset to some extend by strictly implementing and following the DevOps model. The multifaceted features and benefits of DevOps can indeed enable it to address the many concerns posed by technical debts simultaneously.