The Problem With "Technical Debt" And Other Agile Terms ...

Phil Murphy

I have a love/hate relationship with "technical debt". Having covered apps modernization, rationalization, and portfolio management at Forrester for more than a decade, I have a keen appreciation for the concept of technical debt - in all its permutations.

So I love the term for the sentiment it expresses about the need for change:

  • As we have modernized applications over the past 4 decades, we have "kicked the can" down the road far too many times - opting for expediant change over "refactoring to make it right"
  • Within any mature single app, technical debt spawned by years of compromise can accumulate to daunting levels
  • The debt eventually reaches the point of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy - today's debt is too big to tackle, so we kick it down the road and watch it grow out of control
  • Across the entire apps portfolio, the accrued debt cripples firms by gobbling up huge percentages of the available business technology (BT) spend
  • As we rush to build out customer facing and mobile apps to address the age of the customer, the technical debt within the systems of record act like an anchor on change velocity - at both the app AND portfolio levels

And I hate the term because well-intentioned techies wield it like a bludgeon to pound business leaders with an urgency to act. But imagine for a moment how it sounds to business leaders, how they react to the term:

  • "If it's technical, then its your problem Mr App Dev leader, not mine - I'm a business leader"
  • "This debt you want to hand me ... YOU created it, YOU made technology decisions - it's your problem, don't try to hand me a bill to clean up YOUR mess"
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Ignore Digital Experience Delivery Technologies At Your Own Peril

Stephen Powers
Ignore digital experience delivery platforms in 2015, and you’ll spend all of 2016 playing catch up.
 
Since 2013, no fewer than eight vendors announced enterprise-class solutions vying to offer integrated, business-centric tools to create, deliver, measure, and optimize digital experiences. Just this week, French advertising giant Publicis Groupe acquired Sapient for $3.7 billion, and the second bullet of its press release, announced Publicis.Sapient, a new platform “focused exclusively on digital transformation and the dynamics of an always-on world across marketing, omni-channel commerce, consulting and technology.”
 
In our new document, “Predictions 2015: Digital Experience Delivery Platforms Become Flexible Or Lose Momentum,”  we share why we think that 2015 is the year that application development and delivery (AD&D) and digital marketers’ worlds collide – shared platforms, customer data, budgets, and priorities will emerge within B2C and progressive B2B enterprises. Now is the time for progressive digital customer experience technology leadership — from all corners of the organization — to come together to end the patchwork strategies of the past.
 
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Lost in Service Catalog Taxonomy? Forrester’s Technology Management Service Catalog Taxonomy To The Rescue!

Eveline Oehrlich
When it comes to your Technology Management service catalog, are you lost in arguments on what to call certain categories of services? What are your service families and what is the next level of service elements?  What are the definitions of the service elements? These questions are just the tip of the iceberg of current projects within I&O organizations in defining the rich and complex world of a technology management service catalogs. I&O teams are struggling to architect foundational service catalogs which will support the standardization and optimization efforts of their service offerings. 
 
With that challenge in mind, Forrester created a I&O Technology Management Service Taxonomy - a collection of many service elements, organized by 13 service families. The research consists of a detailed spreadsheet based tool with a variety of service families, service taxonomies and definitions.  The next steps are to understand the business services and capabilities which are enabled through these technology management services.  Some business services and capabilities are similar from one vertical to another.  Our next endeavor is to capture these services as well.  
 
We'd like to make this a living and breathing Service Catalog Taxonomy and plan to publish updates soon. Please send all comments and suggestions to eoehrlich@forrester.com and cgallacher@forrester.com.

Without Transformation, Banks Risk Shifting Down To Low-Speed Banking In 2015

Jost Hoppermann
For several years, we have noted a shift in power from companies to customers. Customers call the shots; they can and do transfer their loyalty when they aren't catered to with engaging customer experiences. The age of the customer has reached the banking industry; as in other industries, banks must change the way they do business to move the customer center stage.
 
Thus, application development and delivery (AD&D) teams must work with their peers across the bank to develop and apply the technology, systems, and processes needed to win, serve, and retain customers, partnering with eBusiness executives leading digital banking initiatives to drive new digital innovations. And this is not just a minority movement: Forrester’s Financial Services Architecture Online Survey 2014 shows that close to 80 percent of financial services firms around the globe work on transforming their application landscape or plan to start doing so within the next two years.
 
To prepare for this transformation imperative, AD&D pros need to be aware of the key trends for banking applications; the emerging and accelerating architecture trends, products, and services; as well as their to-do lists for 2015, which you can learn more about in Peter Wannemacher's Predictions 2015 report. While some banks aren't yet ready to take full advantage of these trends, Forrester believes that AD&D teams must be aware of, learn from, and prepare for eight trends in 2015. Among them:
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BI-Self Service Will Close The Business And Technology Gap In 2015

Boris Evelson
Two epic battles have been going on for decades in the world of Business Intelligence and Analytics. Who has the ultimate control of these domains, Business or Technology? And which in the grand scheme of things has a higher priority, customer facing vs. back office analytics? Well, in what Forrester calls the age of the customer (AOC), the results are in. Customer facing priorities trump back office priorities and business users rule. Battle fought and won. Period. End of story.
 
It should be no surprise to our readers that the top five predictions we picked for BI by triangulating our AOC and Agile BI research with client interactions and survey results are all about empowering business users with tools and applications to be self-sufficient, effective and efficient in their unrelenting quest to win, serve and retain customers.
 
#1 Managed BI Self-Service Will Continue To Close The Business And Technology Gap. Traditionally, technology management-driven enterprise BI and business user-driven, self-service BI have gone their separate ways, wrestling each other for scalability, a single version of the truth, and reduced operational risk versus agility, flexibility, and faster time-to-market. Forrester predicts that these two camps slowly by surely will learn how to live happily ever after in 2015 by deploying technologies, architectures, and best practices that allow technology management to monitor business-user-generated BI content and selectively productionalize it.
 
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Leverage The Convergence Of BI And Big Data In 2015 - Or Miss Out

Martha Bennett

Big data – the Holy Grail of business intelligence (BI)? Big data technologies certainly hold the promise of closing the gap between the data that’s available in your organization, and the ability to make that data available to those who need it, when they need it. But it’s about more than just technology: you also need the skills and processes in place to ensure that those technologies are exploited to best effect. Most importantly, application development and delivery (AD&D) professionals must make sure that their BI and big data initiatives don’t move forward on parallel tracks, resulting in yet more data silos. The real value lies in combining existing BI and analytics capabilities with new big data technologies and techniques, and this is why AD&D pros involved with BI and analytics should focus on how these new capabilities can augment and extend the existing environment. Two key areas of focus for 2015 should be:

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Dell Introduces FX system - the Shape of Infrastructure to Come?

Richard Fichera

Dell today announced its new FX system architecture, and I am decidedly impressed.

Dell FX is a 2U flexible infrastructure building block that allows infrastructure architects to compose an application-appropriate server and storage infrastructure out of the following set of resources:

  • Multiple choices of server nodes, ranging from multi-core Atom to new Xeon E5 V3 servers. With configurations ranging from 2 to 16 server nodes per enclosure, there is pretty much a configuration point for most mainstream applications.
  • A novel flexible method of mapping disks from up to three optional disk modules, each with 16 drives - the mapping, controlled by the onboard management, allows each server to appear as if the disk is locally attached DASD, so no changes are needed in any software that thinks it is accessing local storage. A very slick evolution in storage provisioning.
  • A set of I/O aggregators for consolidating Ethernet and FC I/O from the enclosure.

All in all, an attractive and flexible packaging scheme for infrastructure that needs to be tailored to specific combinations of server, storage and network configurations. Probably an ideal platform to support the Nutanix software suite that Dell is reselling as well. My guess is that other system design groups are thinking along these lines, but this is now a pretty unique package, and merits attention from infrastructure architects.

Forrester clients, I've published a Quick Take report on this, Quick Take: Dell's FX Architecture Holds Promise To Power Modern Services

Introducing Forrester’s Infrastructure Transformation Playbook

Glenn O'Donnell

Forrester’s Infrastructure and Operations research team has been on the leading edge of infrastructure technology and its proper operational aspects for years. We pushed the industry on both the supply side (vendors) and the demand side (enterprises) toward new models and we pushed hard. I’m proud to say we’ve been instrumental in changing the world of infrastructure and we’re about to change it again!

As the entire technology management profession evolves into the Age of the Customer, the whole notion of infrastructure is morphing in dramatic ways. The long-criticized silos are finally collapsing, cloud computing quickly became mainstream, and you now face a dizzying variety of infrastructure options. Some are outside your traditional borders – like new outsourcing, hosting and colocation services as well as too many cloud forms to count. Some remain inside and will for years to come. More of these options will come from the outside though, and even those “legacy” technologies remaining inside will be created and managed differently.

Your future lies not in managing pockets of infrastructure, but in how you assemble the many options into the services your customers needs. Our profession has been locally brilliant, but globally stupid. We’re now helping you become globally brilliant. We call this service design, a much broader design philosophy rooted in systems thinking. The new approach packages technology into a finished “product” that is much more relevant and useful than any of the parts alone.

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2015 Will See The Rise Of Human Science And Technology Convergence

David Johnson
At the leading edge of every employee-led workplace technology revolution is usually a handful of motivated people who are constantly experimenting with tools and technologies to improve their work. In the early ‘90s, millions mastered the venerable PC and especially Microsoft Excel - partly because for the first time they could quickly collect and process thousands of data points, present it in ways that they could make sense of it, and make better decisions faster. The result: they could work in new ways that were previously impossible, and they could be more productive and valuable for their employers. In short, these employees were the leaders and innovators in their organizations. 
 
In 2014, these engaged employees' time and energy is going toward finding tools that will help them stay productive as they become more mobile, and their work and personal lives continue to blend. For example: Desktop computer usage as a percentage of the work day is declining, and for at least one hour each work day, 13% of global information workers now use a tablet for work - primarily so they can get work done from home. Forrester believes that investments in mobility technology will increase through 2015 and beyond.
 
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Forrester’s Hadoop Predictions 2015

Mike Gualtieri
Hadoop adoption and innovation is moving forward at a fast pace, playing a critical role in today's data economy. But, how fast and far will Hadoop go heading into 2015? 
 
Prediction 1: Hadooponomics makes enterprise adoption mandatory. The jury is in. Hadoop has been found not guilty of being an over-hyped open source platform. Hadoop has proven real enterprise value in any number of use cases including data lakes, traditional and advanced analytics, ETL-less ETL, active-archive, and even some transactional applications. All these use cases are powered by what Forrester calls “Hadooponomics” — its ability to linearly scale both data storage and data processing.
 
What it means: The remaining minority of dazed and confused CIOs will make Hadoop a priority for 2015.
 
Predictions 2 and 3: Forrester clients can read the full text of all 8 Hadoop Predictions.
 
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