Technology Becomes Detroit

March 4, 2024

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

Have you ever heard of technical debt? Technical debt is when an IT team prioritize speedy delivery of a product over creating a feasible, quality product. Technology history is full of technical debt. Some of the more famous cases are the E.T. videogame for the Atari, Windows Vista, and the Samsung Galaxy Gear. Technical debt is an ongoing issue for IT departments and tech companies. It’s apparently getting worse. ITPro details the current problems with technical debt in, “IT Leaders Need To Accept They’ll Never Escape Technical Debt, But That Doesn’t Mean They Should Down Tools.”

Gordon Haff is a senior leader at Red Hat and a technology evangelist. Haff told ITPro that tech experts will continue to remain hindered as they continue to deal with technical debt and shill shortages. Tech experts want to advance their field with transformative projects but they’re held back by the same aforementioned issues. Haff stressed that as soon as one project is complete, tech experts build the next project on existing architecture. It creates a technical debt infrastructure.

Haff provided an example using a band-aid metaphor:

“Haff pointed toward application modernization as a prime example of this rinse and repeat trend. Many enterprises, he said, deliberately choose to not tinker with certain applications due to the fact they still worked nominally.

Fast forward several years later, these applications are overhauled and modernized, then are left to their own devices – to some extent – and reassessed during the next transformation cycle.

‘If you go back 10 years, we had this sort of bimodal IT, or fast-slow IT, that was kind of the thing,” he explained. “The idea was ‘we’ll leave that old stuff, we’ll shove that off into the corner and not worry about it’ and the cool kids can work on all this greenfield, often new customer-facing applications.

‘But by and large, it’s then a case of ‘oh we actually need to deal with this core business stuff’ and these older applications.’”

Haff suggests that IT experts shouldn’t approach their work with a “one and done” mindset. They should realize their work is constantly evolving. These should be aware of how to go with the flow and program legacy systems that don’t transform into large messes. There’s a reason videogame companies have beta tests, restaurants have soft openings, and musicals have previews. They test things to deliver quality products. Technical debt leads to technical rot.

Whitney Grace, March 4, 2024


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