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vFunction 2023 Predictions: Creating application and business resilience against technical debt headwinds


Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2023.  Read them in this 15th annual series exclusive.

Creating application and business resilience against technical debt headwinds

By Bob Quillin, Chief Ecosystem Officer for vFunction

As the new year sets in, resolutions and positive hopes for 2023 are mixing with new economic realities, job market instabilities, and budget set-backs. Lessons learned from the last few years will have enterprises investing in the resilience of their business and thus the resilience of their core applications that drive the business. Resilience requires a sharper focus on application modernization to move  beyond simple cloud migration to drive real business change, future agility, and sustainability. Application modernization has moved to the forefront as a 2023 CIO imperative, so here's what we can expect to see when it comes to major IT trends in 2023:

The End of Ready-Fire-Aim IT

Over the last few years, application development and IT teams have gotten a little sloppy, relying too much on a ready-fire-aim methodology built on gut feel and growing budgets. As budgets tighten and higher scrutiny on projects becomes the norm, decisions must be made on where, and how to focus modernization spending based on data and analytics, rather than best guesses. Technical debt continues to spiral out of control bogging down innovation, so the need to accurately target what applications to modernize and how exactly to do that will move to the forefront.

"Hero-Ball" Out, Data-Driven Pragmatism In

The concept of "hero-ball" originated in basketball but is prevalent in a wide range of sports and unfortunately also in development and DevOps teams as well. Wiktionay defines "Hero-Ball" as "a style of play where a single player tries to be the team's hero by taking and missing many low percentage shots." This issue is part of the reason why application modernization projects have been failing at a rate of 79%. Developers and architects had to play hero-ball as they lacked the tools that helped them know where to start, how to accurately set expectations, and to understand the complexity, risk, and potential ROI - before the modernization project begins.

Monoliths in the Cloud Start to Crack

2022 made it ok to consider monolithic application architectures again. Hey, it's not all about microservices. Monoliths can be a viable pattern for many situations and have been for a long time. Which brings us to the many Gen-1 cloud companies or deployments that either launched as monoliths many years ago (back in those early cloud days) or lifted-and-shifted-and-stopped, meaning they migrated their monolith to the cloud and kinda forgot about it or celebrated for awhile (yay cloud!) and then lost focus. The bill for those in-the-cloud monoliths comes due in 2023 as they are showing their age and that long-delayed modernization or refactoring project can no longer be ignored.

Rise of AI-Assisted Refactoring: Working Smarter, More with Less

Software architects don't have a lot of tools designed for their needs. Sure, there are a plethora of lower-level developer tools, IDEs, graphing, and profilers that most architects grew up on, but purpose-built tooling that truly helps an architect, well "architect," really doesn't exist - to do things like help identify architectural dependencies, recognize natural domain service clusters, define service boundaries and entry points, split services, build commons libraries, and recognize architectural drift. That's where AI-assistance comes in, much like robot-assisted surgery, to help the expert do their actual job faster, smarter, with lower risk, more efficiently, and much more precisely.

Iteration Replaces Big-Bang

For large-scale modernization projects with high complexity, business leaders might be looking for the "easy button" but CTOs and software architects know that the reality is much different. Carving out microservices from a monolith is an iterative process often requiring refactoring and replatforming. Unless your application is fairly simple, the "one-at-a-time" approach is the recommended path to ensure success and manage risk - and actually increase project velocity. Trying to do too much at once or attempt a "big-bang" modernization or re-write is why most app modernization projects fail, sputter, or just fizzle out. This is not necessarily as slow-and-steady as it seems, as iteration builds velocity that will outpace any massive undertaking in short order.

To keep up with the heightened need for market innovation, scalability and increased engineering velocity, it's critical that IT leaders take a bigger bite out of their technical debt backlog to jump start modernization efforts that actually create application and business resilience The leaders that prioritize modernizing existing applications in the year ahead will accelerate digital expansion and see higher returns.




Bob Quillin is the Chief Ecosystem Officer for vFunction, responsible for developer advocacy, marketing, and cloud ecosystem engagement. Bob was previously Vice President of Developer Relations for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). Bob joined Oracle as part of the StackEngine acquisition by Oracle in December 2015, where he was co-founder and CEO. StackEngine was an early cloud native pioneer with a platform for developers and devops teams to build, orchestrate, and scale enterprise-grade container apps. Bob is a serial entrepreneur and was previously CEO of Austin-based cloud monitoring SaaS startup CopperEgg (acquired by IDERA in 2013) and has held executive and startup leadership roles at Hyper9, nLayers, EMC, and VMware.

Published Tuesday, December 13, 2022 7:42 AM by David Marshall
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